We’ve had to get used to working remotely, often at very short notice, and while no doubt your practice has been able to adapt to the changing work environment over the past year, what hasn’t changed is the myriad of channels you and your clients receive important ATO communications through.
Today alone, you’ve likely received notices from the ATO in multiple ways:
- posted to your physical office address or post office box, which is not always easy to clear quickly when you're working from the office one day and then confined to working from home the next;
- sent directly to a client’s myGov inbox or emailed to a potentially outdated email address, bypassing you, the accountant, completely; or
- delivered electronically to your practice's central mailbox via the evolving tax agent digital communication stream, which your team may not yet be in the habit of monitoring.
Keeping across important client communications from the ATO is difficult enough already, particularly as many documents are time sensitive or require action on your client’s behalf, let alone when you’re working in a distributed workforce with little oversight on who is monitoring each channel.
Here, we’ve highlighted our top three tips to help your team manage ATO correspondence remotely:
- Have a documented, standardised process in place
It’s important that you have a clear, well documented process in place that steps through how your practice handles different types of ATO correspondence and who is involved. Clear instructions that are regularly reviewed and updated as things change will secure your knowledge capital, provide security should you lose any key team members, and help you understand where you might have slipped up if things go wrong. You should include considerations such as your tolerance level for any variances / discrepancies between your estimates and the ATO calculations, including how to handle errors, and what documents you want to send to the client or simply keep on file.
- Automate the repetitive steps
If there is one thing for certain about processing ATO correspondence, it’s that it is repetitive. Combined with the need to crosscheck data between various systems, manually generate correspondence, and potentially having multiple people involved in your review process, makes ATO document processing a prime candidate for automation. A platform like ATOmate that integrates directly with the ATO to help you seamlessly manage all the ATO’s correspondence distribution channels can automate your ATO document processing from start to finish. The cloud-based platform automatically connects to the ATO to download all client correspondence into one place, cross-checks the data against estimates in your practice management system, flags discrepancies for review, generates client communication via email, letter and portal, and archives complete records of all files and communications back into your document management or filing system.
- Offer communication options that make life easy for your clients
We know there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to how your clients like to communicate with you, which adds another layer of complexity to managing standardised processes. Particularly in the current environment it’s important that your clients feel like you’re making things easier for them by communicating through channels they feel comfortable with. Utilising an automation platform like ATOmate to streamline your ATO document handling processes allows you to customise correspondence and delivery options to suit individual client needs in the click of a button. Automating your processes shouldn’t mean you have to compromise on customisation, which is why, unlike other providers on the market that only offer one delivery method, ATOmate lets you choose from multiple correspondence channels including email, letter generation, or sending documents to the client via your client portal.
ATO correspondence is time sensitive, so it’s critical you’re able to monitor, review, make changes as needed, and communicate those important ATO updates and notices to your clients efficiently and effectively regardless of where your team find themselves working. Standardising and documenting your process, and automating as many repetitive elements as possible while not losing sight of your client’s communication preferences will go a long way to helping you maintain confidence in your ATO document management processes and maintaining positive client relationships in times of uncertainty.
With direct integration to the ATO and leading practice and document management platforms, and customisable automation workflows, a platform like ATOmate can help you keep on top of the constant stream of ATO communication, from anywhere, at any time.