3 Insider Tips on Managing a Remote Team

It’s all about People, Technology & Process

Before Summit CPA became a distributed company, we were a traditional brick-and-mortar firm. We made the decision to transition to a distributed company because we didn’t want to be limited to our physical location. We wanted to be able to serve clients and hire staff regardless of their location. We learned a lot during that transition, and we believe that effectively managing a remote team comes down to three key areas: People, Technology and Process.

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The Summit CPA team at Top Golf at our retreat in Indianapolis.

People

People are the biggest asset a company can have. Hiring the right people is essential for the success of your business. A company’s core values are the cornerstone of its culture. We believe core values are so important that we specifically hire for our core values.

At Summit CPA, we have six core values:

1. Humor — Humor is our number one core value. We like to have fun and we enjoy working with people.

2. Empowerment — In order for us to grow, our team members need to be empowered. We trust the people on our team to do their jobs independently.

3. Adaptability — Lack of adaptability can be a huge limitation for accounting firms. Change is inevitable and in order to stay ahead in the industry, we need our team members to embrace (and aggressively pursue) change.

4. Collaboration — We have to be able to work together effectively in order to develop our team and serve our clients.

5. Curiosity — We want people to ask “Why are we doing it this way? Can we do it better?” rather than doing the same thing over and over again just because that’s the way it’s always been done.

6. Candor — We believe that speaking the truth makes our team better. We don’t sugar coat thing. Instead, our goal is to develop the trust and transparency that makes our team stronger in the long run.

We believe that defining our core values and hiring people for these values has helped us develop the best team in the world!

Our interview process also involves screening for Emotional Intelligence (EQi), looking for true potential in people and considering diversity. We want people with grit. We want to make sure we have the right people on the bus and that those people are in the right seats (as Jim Collins would say).

Technology

With team members working remotely with and for our clients, it’s important that we utilize the best communication and collaboration tools that are out there. Here are a few of the tools that we use:

Sococo — As a virtual office space, Sococo looks just like the floor plan of an office where each person is an emoji. Employees can physically see what other people are up to throughout the day — whether they’re in their office or meeting with someone else in another office. There are also meeting rooms and even a break room. Need something from Sue? Simply knock on her door, enter her office and start a quick video session and even a screenshare.

Slack — Slack is a well-known tool for distributed companies. We use Slack for our internal chat where we can have private one-on-one conversations, team channels and larger company-wide channels. We can share announcements and have fun conversations that keep us connected on more than just a business level every day.

Trello — We use Trello to collaborate and keep ourselves on top of things. We can organize all of our projects and easily see tasks in their various stages (to do, in progress and completed) as well as who’s working on what.

GoToMeeting and Zoom — Who needs a phone anymore? We use these video tools to connect with each other and with our clients. Although we aren’t physically meeting face-to-face, we are seeing each other regularly through video connection and I strongly believe that these interactions are essential for building strong relationships with our clients.

Ultimately, technology is always changing. At Summit CPA, in order to stay ahead of the game, we believe it’s important to always be willing to adapt to the newest technology that comes along. This allows us to continue to provide the best service possible to our clients.

Process

With the right people in place, empowered to work independently, and proper access to the tools that are necessary to get the work done, next comes process. Creating process is important in any business if you want to scale, but it is imperative when it comes to remote work. Process helps streamline things, reduces confusion and makes your team more efficient and productive.

At Summit CPA, in addition to Trello, we use Jetpack Workflow which is an accounting and workflow management program built for accountants, CPA Firms and Bookkeepers. For companies outside of the accounting industry, there are lots of other project and workflow management programs out there. These programs can be game-changers within the company to keep team members connected and working together smoothly.

For more on the tools we use at Summit CPA to work together remotely, download our Tech Stack.

Summit CPA is a distributed accounting firm with a non-traditional approach to accounting. Our mission is: Changing the way people think about accounting. We have an amazing team of CPAs and accountants who provide professional Virtual CFO Services and 401(k) Audits for companies all over the United States — many of which are remote companies as well. We fully understand the accounting, bookkeeping, cash flow management, and business tax nuances that come with being distributed, and we love helping our clients overcome these challenges through our own experience and expertise.

CEO & Co-Founder of Virtual CFO firm, Summit CPA Group, author of Digital Dollars and Cents, and contributing member of the Forbes Finance Council.

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