SmartPractice is a South African-developed online suite of tools that will drag your practice out of the stone age and into the cloud. It was launched by SA Institute of Business Accountants (Saiba) member Ettean Smit and his team, based in the Western Cape, as a solution to the most common problems faced by accountants.
“Talk to accountants and you will find the same complaints,” says SmartPractice co-founder Ettean Smit. “Clients don’t really know what they’re paying for and accountants are not very good at communicating what their services are.”
This can create some tension between accountants and clients, who often have very little idea of the value that the accountant brings to their business.
“We set out five years ago to solve the typical problems that face all accountants in practice,” says Smit. “We were trying to solve accounting practice problems for our benefit, but then realised that this could help other accountants realign their practices and become far more efficient – and therefore profitable.”
SAIBA in partnership with SmartPractice has also launched the Garden Route Practice Support Network (PSN) as a forum for accountants to raise issues of concern and to raise the quality of accounting services in the region. “The purpose in setting up this regional network is to raise the standard of accounting services in this region of the country, which has several benefits: it allows accountants to better service their clients, and also to charge higher levels of fees commensurate with the higher quality of services,” says Smit. Click here to join the Garden Route WhatsApp group
The PSN allows accountants to pose questions related to issues such as UIF funding, business relief packages, business turnaround, amendments to tax legislation. “Those of us in accounting practice are dealing with these issues on a daily basis, and through this forum we can get other accountants’ questions answered more or less immediately. and help them build a better and more successful practice.”
The SmartPractice suite
The product has been available to the market for about two and a half years, and 150 accounting practices are now using it (the system is being offered to Saiba members at a discount to the normal rate).
There’s good reason to incorporate SmartPractice into your practice. Accountants have battled in thousands of different ways to overcome the data and admin burden of meeting clients’ accounting needs: financial reporting, tax submissions, company filings and the dozen or more chores that go into keep clients satisfied.
SmartPractice does not replace your existing accounting software such as Intuit QuickBooks or Zero, but will streamline your entire practice through better organisation of client data, deadlines and billing.
Here are some of the modules that are offered:
PlanSmart: this is a planning module specifically designed for the accountant in practice that lets you know when clients need a specific service, and who should deliver it. It also gives monthly reports on completed (and incomplete) projects, which reduces the admin burden and translates into more revenue. PlanSmart allows you to have a bird’s eye view of what needs to be done, when it must be done and who within your practice is responsible for rendering the service.
DocShareSmart is really like a tidy, online filing cabinet that can be accessed by clients and their staff at any time. for uploading documents, including key documents such as title deeds, wills and rental contracts and the like. Many of these may be confidential documents which will not be available to the accountant but can be accessed, in the case of death, by the executor of the estate.
It tells you whether predetermined services (VAT201, EMP201 and so on) have been completed and whether the required documentation was uploaded or not.
DocShareSmart also reduces mundane and time-consuming correspondence with your clients by standardising communication, ensuring that a professional and accurate system generated-message reaches your clients. This saves time and money and prevents your clients feeling neglected.
TimeShare – Capturing accurate time spent on projects and ad-hoc items is critical for accurate and timely billing of clients, and important to making informed strategic decisions. Implementing a single, intuitive time management tool that captures time and progress on any work item, including non-project or operational work, is essential for more accurate business results.
This tool allows you to create projects, budgets and allocate staff. Time management systems should not only capture time, but also track progress so project managers can gauge the overall effect that actual time has on their initiatives. A unique function is the ability to “create multiple client projects”, this enables you to set up a project with multiple clients that share a common task like VAT, PAYE and EMP 201 submissions, amongst others.
Reporting: this is vital in any practice and eliminates administrative oversights and errors (such as late VAT submissions).
The reporting tool allows users to compile reports showing:
- All SARS submissions not filed
- Tax clearance applications not performed
- Annual Financial Statements not signed off
- CIPC annual reports not filed
- Payroll, UIF and Workmen’s compensation not filed
- Engagement letters not issued
- Budget vs Actual
- Staff Productivity
ClientSmart – unique tool that allows you communicate with specific group of clients, for example, it can isolate only those who are VAT payers in a certain industry, or another group that are not VAT payers. When it comes to communicating with clients, it is important to get the precise communication to the right client, perhaps for EMP 501 deadlines, or EMP 201, or VAT. You can easily segment these clients and push out communications that are relevant to them only.
TaxSmart – direct SARS eFiling integration, with bulk submissions and CRM options. IPR6 14 and 12 to come later this year. www.taxsmart.online
SecSmart: This module is an easy to use cloud-based Company Secretarial System. You can keep all company records up to date. It allows all authorised stakeholders to view the company status, anytime, anywhere through an access controlled online portal. It has all the functionality you will need in a secretarial system, from issuing Share Certificates, transfers, allotments to buy backs. You will be able to track all activity and all information pertaining to the share register and report on it when and where needed.
You can now manage all company meetings with this easy to use module, select a time and date and all invitees will automatically be notified of the particulars via an SMS and/or email. If you don’t currently keep company records for your clients, why not use this system to create an extra income stream and keep your clients compliant.
“The set-up is everything,” says Smit. “Once this is done, only add new people and remove old people. It can take time to set up but once this is done there are big savings. The system is browser-based so you can access your information from everywhere.”
For more information check out www.smartpractice.co.za.