Before getting started with this lesson, we recommend taking some time to:
Collect existing documentation on the tax preparation and filing process
Identify key stakeholders (who is doing the work) and their role on the client service team (ie. the “advisor”, “financial planner”, “tax associate”, etc)
Moving away from a single long, multi-step tax preparation checklist with dozens of steps will allow you to:
Create visibility into individual client progress and overall team workload
Standardize the experience for your tax clients
Increase compliance through pre-assignment of tasks and automated reminders
Reduce operational burden by leveraging service teams and user roles, and configuring next workflows and automation
Streamline and create efficiency over time by iterating and optimizing steps as you go
Managing Tax Preparation before Hubly
Many of the workflows that we see new users import today are long and complex. These often take the form of single, run-on task lists with over a dozen steps, that we know you dread to use.
When loaded up with numerous clients, traditional workflow tools get really busy, making it impossible to see an overview of what needs your attention at a glance.
Despite establishing a repeatable experience, by and large, dreadfully long and complex workflows do more harm than good:
Providing little visibility over a “funnel” of clients — requiring time-consuming client-by-client reviews and making it difficult, if not impossible, to spot bottlenecks in your Tax Preparation process.
Making it more difficult to customize an individual client’s experience — often requiring clunky external tasks, activities, and notes, instead of simply being able to re-order or edit individual steps to match a client’s unique needs and immediate priorities.
Requiring you and your team to constantly check in on where things are at — with specific missing tax forms and other needs being tracked using calendar reminders, whiteboards, and time-consuming meetings to stay in sync.
Here at Hubly, we recommend taking a simple 3-step approach to planning key processes based on best practices that we’ve seen work time and time again for hundreds of users.
Plan the stages — These are your Workflows. Think of them as gates that break up the larger Tax Preparation Process, giving you visibility as you move your clients through.
Plan the tasks — Getting the level of detail right is tricky, and we recommend starting simple and taking the time to drive at least one real client through a Workflow prior to layering on complexity.
Introduce automation — There are many ways to automate away time-consuming and manual steps in Hubly, but the only helpful automation is the one that actually saves you time.
Plan the stages
You can get started by selecting the Tax Preparation Process template in Hubly:
We think of a Process as a funnel or a Kanban board, with each Workflow acting as a stage in the Process:
Clients usually start in the Tax Organizer Workflow where documents get collected and their return assembled, and then get moved through scheduling, review, and filing:
You do not have to move every client through every Workflow in the order that they appear on your screen, stages can be skipped or even worked through at the same time:
Well planned Workflows represent stages in your Tax Preparation process and provide a high-level overview — making it easy to see where your team is at with every filing, making it easier to identify bottlenecks and spot what needs attention:
Plan the tasks
Long, run-on lists of tasks make it difficult to understand progress at a glance and often make those using these task lists feel micromanaged instead of empowered.
The best practice is to always keep things simple. We recommend keeping your Task lists concise and to the point. Not only is it easier to get started this way, but you will also end up creating a Workflow that will actually be used to drive work and see next steps with ease.
Double-click on any templated Workflow to review its default list of Tasks:
You will see that Hubly templates are designed in such a way that makes it easy to bookmark the progress being made — allowing anyone on your team to see exactly where things left off, at a glance:
Start by reviewing this templated list of Tasks and adjusting it to work for your team. You can select the text of any Task to edit it:
You can re-order Tasks by using the grip lines along the left:
Tasks can be deleted through their in-line menu:
Select Add Task to create a new Task:
Document the details
Tasks should help you standardize the experience that you want your clients to receive, without micromanaging the person working through them.
We often see long Task lists (or sub Tasks) used to capture all of the nuances that ensure your I’s are dotted and T’s crossed. But checking off these steps every single time, for every single client can quickly become time-consuming and clunky.
To avoid creating cluttered, long task lists, we recommend capturing additional details or instructions as Descriptions within those tasks:
Select the Task Details icon to add a description or select Edit Task Details to edit an existing description:
Descriptions can also be used to keep important “bookmarks" such as document upload links within reach:
Or to provide a template for meeting notes to be recorded into for consistency across team members:
Tip: Hubly is built to be flexible, and Task Descriptions are no different. These can be edited and customized for every Client that you add to this Workflow. We recommend setting up the Description field to outline all document types to be collected for the preparation of a tax return and paring that list down by whoever manages that Workflow for a client, allowing them to capture client-specific needs.
As your team grows, different responsibilities will be shared between team members — in Hubly we refer to these as User Roles.
Hubly makes it easy to pre-assign Tasks directly to specific Users, or to Roles that can be shared between multiple users:
Tasks that are assigned to Roles can be routed based on workload balancing rules (such as capacity, or round-robin) — configurable from the Settings page:
Users can also be pre-assigned to Roles for specific clients, forming that client’s Service Team. Service Teams can be reviewed and updated from the Client Card:
User Roles can be configured by using the Settings menu from the Service Team section on the Client Card:
From here you can configure User Roles for different specialized types of tasks to assign team members to:
Existing User assignments can also be synced in from the Roles assigned to contacts in your CRM:
Automating Task delegation and prioritization
Hubly makes it easier than ever before to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks without requiring time-consuming, manual review, prioritization, and delegation of work.
That’s why when planning your Workflow Tasks, we recommend always ensuring that every Task is pre-assigned and that a Reminder is set for follow-up Tasks and Tasks that pass the Workflow from one user to another:
You can assign Tasks to a user or Role by selecting the user icon to the left of a Task's name and selecting the desired user or Role name:
You can configure automatic Reminders to keep work flowing by clicking the bell icon to the right of a Task’s name:
Reminders can be set to come due relative to when a Client was added to the Workflow, or when the Task immediately before it was completed:
This way, when you add a Client to the Workflow, every Task will automatically be delegated to the right person on your team — ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks:
Tasks with Reminders will be summarized for every user in the HubFeed, making it easy to see a short list of Tasks that need their attention:
This makes it easy to see exactly who is working on every Client, and what needs to be prioritized at a glance:
Tip: Use the Filter menu to quickly filter your dashboard by assigned User or Role, and by status to create a focused view of urgent and upcoming to-dos.
By and large, you will move your clients through Tax Preparation Workflows in the order that they appear. Configuring the Next Workflow makes it easy to map out exactly where the client will need to be added to next:
The list of pre-configured Next Workflows can be customized for every Client that you add to a Workflow, right from within the Client Card:
This means that Next Workflows can be used to personalize each Client’s journey, while also providing context to the rest of your team:
Tip: You can schedule a start date for any Next Workflow. Simply Add a Start Date and that Scheduled Workflow will continue to appear in that Client Card until they’re started automatically on the scheduled date.
The Tax Preparation process can often involve many manual, error-prone data rekeying steps. Hubly can help you eliminate these steps by configuring Workflow Rules and connecting your account to Zapier.
We recommend using Streams to quickly and visually categorize your contacts as Active Clients:
Located in the client card, Streams make it quick and easy for everyone on your team to know exactly who they are working on and what's important to them at a glance:
Add/Remove Stream or Tag Rule
We recommend setting up an Add/Remove Stream or Tag Rule to automatically add a “Tax Preparation” Stream (or Tag) when a client completes the Tax Organizer Workflow.
To start with a Rule already in the template, simply double-click on an existing Rule, or select the in-line menu to edit an existing Rule:
You can create a new rule by selecting “Add Rule”:
Simply configure this rule to add the appropriate stream or tag for this tax season when this Workflow is completed for a client:
This way Hubly will ensure that the appropriate Stream or Tag is attributed to every Client for who this Workflow is completed.
We recommend using the Repeating Rule to add clients to your Tax Organizer Workflow in January to kick off tax season for your team:
This way, Clients that you have pre-categorized as needing tax preparation throughout the year will be added all at once in January.
Tip: You can continue to add additional Clients and household members manually to this Workflow — the Add or Remove Stream/Tag rule from earlier will ensure that the right Stream or Tag is attributed to them as well!
Important Client Date Rule
We recommend utilizing the Meeting Date section in Hubly’s Client Card to track the date and time of the tax return review meeting that you have with your clients.
From there you can select an existing client meeting type, or start typing to configure a custom name:
Now that the review meeting is being tracked in Hubly, we recommend creating an Important Client Date Rule to add clients to your Review Meeting Workflow on the day of their upcoming meeting:
You can leverage Zapier to set client meeting dates and types in Hubly. If you use Calendly, Accuity, or ScheduleOnce, you can leverage Zapier to trigger when a new meeting gets booked — saving this information to Hubly.
Too much time is lost doing simplistic data rekey/update actions manually and with this type of automation, you can ensure that your workflows don't wait on anyone to do these manual steps.
For this new Zap, we’ll use Calendly as the triggering app, with the trigger event being that a meeting event is created:
Tip: Depending on the meeting scheduling tool you use, you may need to add a Zapier filter step to ensure only specific Calendly event types allow the Zap to proceed.
For your first action step, select Hubly as the app and Find a Client as the action.
Use the Email Address submitted via Calendly in the triggering step to locate the corresponding contact record in Hubly. :
Quick Tip: In this case, we assume that the contact record already exists. If that is not the case, you will want to select the "Create Hubly Client..." option.
Now that this Zap has located the client in Hubly, we’ll need to set up our second action event to save the date of their next meeting.
To do this, start by selecting your Hub and taking the ID of the client that we found in the previous step under the Client field:
Then select "Meeting" as the Hubly Client Date Type and the type of meeting date as "Tax Return Review" under the Meeting Date Type:
Finally, you will set the New Client Date field from the date and time provided by the Calendly event:
Quick Tip: You'll be looking for the date called Event Start Time in the drop-down, it's the one that looks the ugliest and most complicated!
Your Workflows will continue to evolve and change as you improve your processes, add additional services or options for more complex tax situations, and revise the composition of your software stack and team.
Investing the time to document and create structure for your Tax Preparation processes today will give you a starting point to iterate and improve upon these structures, introduce new software to streamline bottlenecks, and grow with confidence that Clients aren't slipping through the cracks during this very busy time of year.
Whether you’re working alone or with a team, breaking your existing Tax Preparation checklist into short, well-defined stages will give you visibility over the entire funnel of tax returns your team is preparing — making it easier to manage this busy surge period and spot clients/filings that are falling behind.
Pre-assignment and smart reminders on Tasks will help your team reduce the operational burden by automatically routing Tasks to the right team member for every return being prepared.
Short, well-planned Task lists will empower your team to work independently while helping to ensure compliance, giving you the confidence to oversee all filings and introduce new technology that will help tax season run even smoother and scale even further as your firm grows.
Most importantly, all of the work that you continue to do for every client throughout their journey with your firm will be available in one single source of truth, on their Hubly Client Card — making it simple to see exactly what has been done, by who, and when.
Getting the team into Hubly
Now that you’ve built these Workflows, tested them, and applied the finishing touches by automating away repetitive time-consuming steps, it’s time to get your team in.
Getting a team to form new, collaborative habits all the whilst learning an entirely new piece of software will take time, collective effort, and persistence. Having everyone aligned on the goals that they’re working towards, and with a clear understanding of the challenges that they’re aligned to overcome is an important first step.
Prior to getting your team into Hubly, it’s important to facilitate an honest conversation around the challenges that they face with their existing work structures today and the goals that they are committed to working towards together. We’ve prepared this helpful facilitation guide: Creating Alignment Amongst Your Team.
We’ve also prepared a facilitation guide for when it’s time to get your team up and running with their new dashboard of client onboarding Workflows in Hubly: Getting Started Check-List For Teams.
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