Emails are messy and often unsecure. We all know this and as a group Accountants, Tax professionals and bookkeepers, are forever having to deal with means to obtain information from or for their clients that precludes using emails.
Several years ago, we instituted Slack within our company. Since that first set up of one channel we have maximized and continue to maximize this communication method. Slack is texting on steroids. Emails have become secondary and we utilize them at a minimum. However, we do have an integration with our slack to push emails to different channels automatically. For example, anything that comes into our website as a lead automatically gets pushed to the #marketing channel. We can also direct emails from specific clients to go direct to their channel on our slack. Nothing unique there as some of the cloud-based workflows, we use for clients, also have this neat feature of pushing emails to workflows. (see Karbon)
Internally we communicate exclusively with Slack. Having a virtual workforce Slack has become the hub for texting, calling and video conferencing. We quickly integrated our Zoom to slack so anyone with permissions can open a meeting right from within a slack channel and the link to the recording is then saved to the slack channel. /zoom and viola the meeting is ready.
Although, we are all on the same cloud server internally, slack is a quick way to share any local files that are need fast and may even have to be uploaded from a mobile phone or table with a client securely. The files are in the slack channel in seconds and can be viewed from within the slack channel, downloaded or sent to our linked dropbox or google drive. Later we delete those that are not necessary. Having a good deletion and cleanup policy is important. We really do not encourage this for internal use but our clients that often have something local we need right away have found it very handy. As to client yes, each client has their own personal slack channel. Our level of communication and response from clients has increased immeasurably. The transparency is helpful to the client and as well the admins of the slack have a 60000 foot view of all work and can in seconds click into a conversation and supply feedback or support.
Since we perform back office work for many accounting firms, we are often on their workflows for our tasking but internally we also needed a simple means of tasking. Another easily integrated app with Slack provided this, Teamline. With Teamline we just type /teamline into any channel and can create a new task on the fly or use a premade template, assign it to a team member, set a due date, attach a file and even add a checklist of items. Teamline notifies both the assignee and the creator as to the progress of the task automatically. Integration to our google calendar puts the Teamline task into the calendar. We never leave Slack while doing this as the integration between Slack and Teamline is seamless.
Another challenge has been security to cloud app logins. Many sites require secondary authentication codes, or MFA (multi Factor Authorization) to obtain access. Since we do not allow mobile devices in the workroom our accountants were having problems with time outs to obtain codes that were being relayed by the person whose mobile phone received the access code. Searching the app directory on Slack APPS we found Yodel.io. Yodel provided us with a phone number. This is not a google # but an actual phone number that can receive voice and SMS messages. The security preferences of our cloud apps have the yodel.io phone number listed as the receiver of the two-factor code. We connected Yodel.io to slack and now we have a dedicated phone channel for these codes. Anyone on our secure slack with the correct user permissions can request a code.
We use RDP to access client servers. RDP is not secure by itself, but you can place an MFA requirement within the login policy. Both Google and Microsoft have these authentication protocols available. Last week an accounting client instituted this on their RDP that we access. I asked him why he finally added this new MFA policy. Turns out he was at a peer group meeting in Chicago and met a CPA firm that had had their RDP access breeched. I was quite happy that we had the capability to log in that very night the MFA was established, without a hiccup. Thanks to Yodel.io and Slack. Caveat, this only works with newer log codes and not older short code technology. So, when it doesn’t work on an app, we can seriously think about how well that app is keeping up with new security. Yodel.io also allows for voice messages and auto responses that can be texted of voiced back to the sender.
Penny Breslin is the founder of MoneyPenny, a consulting firm specializing in helping accounting firms and other businesses embrace the power of technology to simplify their operations and increase their profit margins.
Penny has been recognized by Worldwide Who’s Who for showing dedication, leadership, and excellence in providing quality consulting services to an international clientele made up of CPA firms and other businesses.
Penny holds a Master of Business Administration in Global Management and is a member of the Intuit Pro-Advisor Group, is a Xero Certified Advisor, a member of the Wave Pro Network, and a FreshBooks consultant. A firm believer in being able to work from anywhere, you’ll often find Penny running her business on the beach after a morning surf session.