I’m delighted to have been asked to kick off a discussion for the new AFCPE website about I use technology in my work, and I invite fellow members to share what they’ve come upon that is working for them. There’s so much good stuff out there — don’t keep it a secret! How are you using technology in your practice?
Aside from the financial number-crunching software and internet-based applications, I find there are a few areas of any practice that can benefit from a bit of automation here and there. But since we all have different levels of comfort with electronic tools, there may be a little learning curve to climb before it really adds value rather than takes time. But stick with it – with proficiency comes efficiency!
First, meeting face to face when we’re all so busy and pressed for time, gas money, and demands from others, I’ve found that virtual meetings are a great alternative. Using internet based platforms such as Webex and GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar can help you reach out one-to-one or one-to-many without ever leaving your computer. Lounging in your shorts and a t-shirt while conducting business meetings – what could be better! With screen sharing while you’re on a phone call, you can show the client everything you want to share with them on your computer screen. They can see what you’re highlighting and referencing. It’s almost like being right there without the commute, carbon footprint, or traffic.
Next, keeping in touch: sure, e-mail works. And sometimes it can be tweaked a bit to look nice. But using applications such as Constant Contact for newsletters and Evite for event announcements or EventBrite for event and attendee management makes it easy to create templates and copy them for those things which recur. Postage going to 44 cents in May? Faf!
Finally, filling the pipeline. While it’s great to be working with clients and communicating with them using technology, you can also have them schedule appointments without involving you. There’s an internet applications called Appointment Quest and GenBook which provide a way to easily manage your scheduling online. See Appointment Quest and Genbook for more information.
Again, I’m sure there are many other things out there. Please share them and reply to this posting so we all may learn about them.
– Steven Shagrin