In this week’s episode we talk to Tim Parris, a tax and bookkeeping professional in Ottawa, ON, Canada. He is self-employed, with a temporary assistant during certain peak volumes.
Tim started working with Canadian taxes back in 1989. He serves clients around the world helping both resident and non-resident taxpayers save money in their dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Quebec. He has knowledge of Personal, Estate and other taxes for people in a Canadian context.
Most importantly, Tim uses Podio to maximise his efficiency. Tim talks about how he came to Podio, how he has custom built workflow management using GlobiFlow and ProcFu, and how he’s continuing to increase his communication integration through GlobiMail and smrtPhone.
If you need some help with you taxes, check out Tim’s website at: http://taxtim.ca/
Speaker 1: 0:00
Welcome to powered by Podio. Automation is everything. Supercharge your business with podio. Get ready for another episode of supercharged with Jordan Samuel Flemming , your weekly dive into the awesome impact workflow and automation can have on your business when it’s powered by podio. Join US each week as we learn from the top podio partners in the world as we investigate system integrations and add ons and hear from real business owners who have implemented podio into their business. Now join your host, Jordan, Samuel Fleming , CEO of game changers for this week’s episode.
Hey everybody. Welcome to this episode of Supercharged. I’m your host Jordan Samuel Fleming, here to talk all about the power of workflow and automation when your business powered by Podio. Today’s guest is Tim Parris. Tim’s a tax and bookkeeping professional from my native Canada. Tim, welcome to the podcast. Why don’t you introduce yourself?
Hey, so I have been working on taxes since 1989. Uh, but a couple of years ago I realized my volumes were getting to the point where I needed to track the workflows going in and the documents going in and my determination was Podio, you’ll meet my needs. So.
Excellent. So you’ve been with Podio , uh , I mean, how did you, just out of curiosity, how did you find, or how did you find Podio? Because Podio is not one of those ones that everybody finds. So how did you get in there ?
I actually made an inquiry on a , a a tax board , uh, that has about client service management and was curious as to various different forms of client service managers that people were using. And Podio was one of those that came up. And I like the fact that it was so flexible, whereas the other ones were very much geared to accounting and accountant practices, which is not primarily my need.
So the off the shelf, kind of the , the one we’ve got a, you know, my own business has a couple of accountancy clients right now. Um, accounting and tax clients, mainly in the USA. Um, but they have very specific bits of software they use that are very much aimed at that kind of tax at the accountancy law area. Is that, is that the difference here?
That is the difference because generally when you buy a product it is geared to one country’s tax laws and their accounting laws. I am very much international and what I deal with , uh , it’s not just Canada though it is my main bread and butter. I also have to look out for interactions with the USA and surprisingly enough, Mongolia and Singapore. So those are some very different characteristics that I have to watch out for. And you can do that on an off the shelf product.
Yeah, sure. No, I can understand that. So your ability to be able to take and tailor it and make sure that for each customer of yours you can very much track the things you want to track and uh, you know, regardless of anything else that’s, that was really a big driver for , uh, for you to move to Podio then.
That’s correct. The other aspect of my degree is actually in computing and information science. So for me to customize it, it was not a fearful thing. Whereas a lot of the accountants, no they, they just want to go in and do the thing themselves, get it ready and they want to go back and do the accounting.
So you’re , you, you, you’ve done a lot of the work on your Podio system yourself, then you’ve gotten into all of the little bits of customization you’ve gotten into the workflow through things like Globiflow yourself?
That’s correct. So I have a fairly extensive GlobiFlow library that I built up over the past couple of years and they are linked in some cases to ProcFu, which a as you know, is very advanced. Uh, I have been trying to build in some aspects where if the flow does not immediately trigger in the background that can recover later on in the next couple hours when Podio, GlobiFlow comes back up. Surprisingly enough with my nature, I have to make sure that certain things are done. I can’t let them sit because there are significant penalties if work doesn’t get completed on time.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And uh , I mean obviously then the, the, you know, Podio like let’s just say occasionally goes through hiccups is not as responsive as we’d like. So for things like that, then you know, obviously the flows do tend to fire. They may take a while, but they do tend to fire , um, which, which is, which is great, but you’ve also have you built in some sanity checks to make sure
there are some sanity checks. And the other thing that I’ve started doing is using views to select things and the Globiflow will fire every so often. So on the sanity , on these views and pick up work that needs to be processed so that I know that they will actually process where whereas if the GlobiFlow completely fails to trigger this way, the view will always trigger.
So , so you’ve got a backup, in essence, a , you’ve done a, a flow based on a view to provide you with a backup or a sanity check assurance, which says, you know, at the very least we’re all , we’ve got an hourly flow, the checks, the view to pick up anything that may have kept itself out of , uh, out of
you know , the proper order. That’s correct. And also some of my overnight jobs are based on views as opposed to just triggering at certain times. So that I know, even if they didn’t occur that night, they will occur the next night.
Okay. Now when you talking about sort of bookkeeping and, and those kinds of records , uh , you know, obviously there’s a lot of, of , uh , data that passes through the, your , uh, your office, your computer, you know, the workflow you do for clients. How does, you know, some of which that data could be highly confidential. U m, so what’s the structure for you as a, as a, you know, in that p rofession of dealing with the, the data. What do you keep in Podio? What d o you keep elsewhere? U m, you know, how have you,
so they did the client data is actually not stored in Podio, Podio tracks , communications and work flow. That’s all it’s responsible for. I don’t consider it secure enough to handle say, taxpayer data. So there is no tax payer data inside Podio or financial data. I cannot prevent a client from emailing me this, but it’s, that is not the design of Podio. If they choose to email, then it’s considered acceptable to go into Podio because they put it out through an email which is unsecured. It’s unsecured. I mean I can’t stop them from doing that, but I am responsible for keeping the data I do receive secure. So there is a separate server which has its own passwords that is handling that information. But if the Podio handles the emails, it handles the telephone calls. it handles was the communications and what needs to get done. What I’m looking for, what I have to do.
And do you like the two things that we’ll take upon that? Um, obviously number one , uh, you know, I know because I know , um , my other company is , smrtphone , and you are a smrtphone customer, so, correct. I know, I know, I know this. So it’s not a secret. So you’ve been , you’ve integrated smrtphone into this business, into your business to track those calls, etc . How’s that been working?
That has been working fairly well, but uh , the issue I’ve got is where a client would actually go beyond the normal quantity of calls for one work product. Uh, for instance, over the last year I’ve had six and a half thousand telephone calls and that is over 569 tax return records. So that’s a huge amount I have to be able to match these calls and what information that it pertains to as to what I have to deal with. And some cases I have going back umpteen phone calls. Now in the current returns I only keep, I think it’s 17 telephone calls being display, but for the older ones I go up to 45 calls at once and it’s very useful. It’s like you’re, you’re speaking to the client now after the returns done. And it’s like, okay, you told me this. And I had a conversation with the tax department and they told me this and they’re working on this. And uh , last year it was a terrible time with the tax department. Their processing was in such terrible shape that I actually had to write client complaints. And so I actually would just snapshot my telephone call log and throw it into the client complaint and say, this is every phone call I dealt with, who I called when I called, what we talked about. All my notes were there. And it’s just simply a snapshot that I had to , all I had to do is take a picture, boom, boom. And it’s into the complaint and the, see the tax department could not dispute my conversations because they’re all locked. And when they’d go and track against their logs, they’re supposed to get the same conversations in their log system. So it was clear that I was being truthful in my complaint. You took six months to process a tax return. This is not acceptable business.
Okay. So, so being able to track those conversations, having that record is a really, really valuable thing then for you. Um , so, but, but then where you’re dealing with a client that has multiple , um, years for instance, or returns that you’re dealing with you’re manually linking a call to that specific project?
That’s correct. So the phone call a if they are, if I’m dealing with a say four or five returns at once, I have to link that call to every four or five returns. So I’ve tried to do an automation that if they call back, I then copy those links to the new phone call. Doesn’t always work but it happens and so fair amount.
That’s interesting feedback cause I’ve been looking at upgrading the dialer. You’ll hear some new smrtphone upgrades coming in the new in the next week. There’s some things that we’re announcing. Uh , so spoiler alert , uh , for yourself. Um, but one of the things that I’ve been , uh , we put into the roadmap to upgrade over the next quarter. It was not going to be the first priority cause it’s not as high a priority as some of the other things people ask for. But one of the things that I’ve put in the roadmap for the next quarter is upgrading the dialer for smrtphone. The like the, the, the dial is the black box that, that uh , that drops down where you can see who’s calling or who you’re calling, you know, whatever. And write your notes in . I were thinking of upgrading that to allow you to select certain apps, which would, which would you, you’d be able to select in your settings, like what apps do you want to connect calls to. And then when you’re on the call you could like a drop down, you could search for the item and, and , and, and click it so that you could be like, it relates to this project, this project, this project in this project. Um, you know , uh , that’s something we’ve been, I’ve been toying with and that sounds like it may be something that would help.
It would help accepting that. I have about four main apps that I tie the phone calls to. So I’m not sure that if you were really thinking about doing more than one app at once, because this would be quite a collection.
Well, we’re gonna play around some ideas, so I may get some feedback from you on that. Uh , anyway. Sure . Um, you know , but , uh, but the , do you use SMS with your clients as well or?
I do do SMS , uh , the clients, a few clients have been trying to do MMS, which doesn’t work. So it’s, I get this a SMS message and it says item deleted, and that’s usually an indication to me. Okay, you tried to email me a photograph of your letter. I can’t see it, email it, that will work or upload it. I don’t care which.
Okay. Now, now let me ask, going back to something you said earlier about the, about the , uh , confidential information. Um, I only am, I , I’m interested in your take on us because we’ve been doing some work for some accountancy firms. Um, so most of them like yourself use Podio, field work flow and maybe the like , uh , the certain bits of client data, like top level bits, not, not super confidential bits. Um, and then then they’ll use something like sharefile or, or , or whatever to have those secure folders where clients can upload the sensitive documents, et cetera. Um , so that’s the structure that
that is, that is similar to the structure I’m working on. The problem I’ve got is for the client interface to the documents. I’ve had to separate it from the actual document management system because the client , uh , access, I need to have it bilingual and because I work in multiple languages, so, but the internal document management software package, which handles all the documents, it unilingual one language and is very comprehensive. I really like it. So I really don’t want to move away from that. It , it does the job, but the clients need something a lot more flexible.
Sure. Well, that’s one of the great things about working. Anything in Canada you’ve got to you , you know, hello/ Bonjour uh , for, for, for everything. Um, I certainly , uh , I remember, I remember that. Um,
I’ve got sign language, I’ve got Spanish, I’ve got German as well as the common English and French, so , uh , and American products they only take English, I’m sorry.
Absolutely. Well , Canadian products always will give you the bilingual option. Uh , I think mandated by law. Um, certainly in the English part of Canada we have to do the French. I’m not entirely sure if the French they have to do the English didn’t use when I was a kid.
Uh , I actually deal with Quebec for taxes. Uh, I am functionally bilingual, but generally at the level that I’m dealing with , uh, the people can speak English and they recognize that I’m actually not located in Quebec, so they do provide English, but I’m flexible enough that if they want to speak French, they can speak French. And if they can understand English, I’ll speak English. Otherwise I’ll speak French for them “c’est pas un problem”.
Well, it’s, it’s funny where live, I live in Poland right now and there’s a, a , um, there’s a Spanish shop in town , uh, where I go and buy a lot. Most of my wine. And the , uh, the guy who owns it is a Spanish dude who speaks Spanish and French and I obviously grew up in Canada and I went to a French school. Um, so I , uh, I am, you know, I’m not bad. I , I it’s been a long time, but you slipped back into it very quickly when you, when you speak a bit more regularly. So we , we pop in between languages when I go into his shop and just sort of take a language depending on the sentence at times. Um, so now come back to your Podio in terms of the workflows that you do , um, like give us , uh , give us some examples of, of automation workflows that have really helped save some time. Uh, you know, that you’ve developed.
Um , well let’s take a recent example in the phone calls because I’m actually getting a lot of spam phone calls and these people use different phone numbers each time. So in my phone calls as they come in, I automated a Google Search Link that tells me where these calls are coming from and I can, if I don’t have this client and I, the Google search turns up that it is perhaps a telemarketer or they just don’t have anything. I’ve actually created a little trigger button which says mark this to an unknown caller and close the record just one click as well . I can process these phone calls very quickly and unfortunately I’m getting three or four a day.
Uh , that’s annoying. Um,
it’s very annoying and I think they’re either trying to see is this a valid phone number? Because even on the Google searches, they’re saying that people are , uh, they’re calling and they hang up as soon as the call is answered. Oh . Or I mean in my case it got the tail end of an automated message saying we are going to come to your door with the police because you haven’t filed your taxes. I mean, these thing happen all the time and obviously they don’t know what I do.
Yeah. That’s, I get people occasionally on Linkedin spamming me about like, you know, hey, have you ever considered a voip phone system? And I’m like, Oh yeah, yeah, I’m okay. Thanks. So you’ve not done your homework on this one. Um, yeah. And in terms of like, so workflow for you, for a client in terms of automation that that Podio is and GlobiFlow probably ProcFu, those, the holy trinity of automation. If you’re working, you know , if you’re not working by the API directly, then you’re using Podio globiflow and ProcFu. So can you give us an example in terms of like client workflow, you know, is it sort of, is it like monthly tasks you do for clients that it lays things out for you? How have you found that this studio ,
the majority of my work is tax return . Saying you’ve got to understand that the tax returns come in over a space of two months and it really doesn’t matter what part of the world you’re in. It’s a two month window to file these things. So I have a structure for how the tax return has to flow through from initiate, received and process ready for signature signed, filed, invoiced, initiated. And as I click through them, if I were to accidentally click to a step that it’s not approved yet, I have to force myself through a series of steps. It will force me back and stop me because I have not gone through the correct process. Every time I go through to the next step it will lay out a couple of extra tasks that I have to perform. So there’ll be a task record created at the end of certain steps. It clears all the completed tasks so that I don’t have these uncompleted tasks floating around. What is really nice is after tax returns filed the, I have an invoice in that initiated, it creates another record to bill the client if I have not already done so. So that I never forget to bill somebody.
That’s a critical, critical part . I did you automate the billing as well or?
I have not automated the billing. Um, it is one of the things I am looking at it because I am trying to transition to a much more formalized billing structure for the invoices. Uh, the issue I’ve got is that the , uh , I’ve got currently an external price quotation system. So is to do that. And what I like to do is move that particular aspect into Podio, but the external system does this quite nicely. So until I’m ready to take that step, that piece will not happen. Uh, the invoicing system is kept external. It has an API. I’ve looked at it, I’m not ready to touch that aspect yet.
Yeah, that’s a , yeah . API work is suddenly , I mean it’s , that’s, it’s , it’s way beyond my capabilities. I’m not a developer anymore. Like I don’t do any really Podio building anymore. Um , we’ve got a team of developers in the company that, that manages at and , and obviously API to, you know, API work is , is phenomenal. And I, I think probably once you’ll , you know, I know from watching the developers and reading the updates and learning a little bit, you know, once you understand the function, the basics, you know, most API APIs , uh , are pretty easy to work with. Uh , but it does require a, a , it does require a certain , uh, knowledge base to begin with.
Yeah. And I’m not there yet, so let’s break off the steps that I can handle and go with them . The pieces that are most valuable in my process, I’ve learned that if I start noticing I’m doing something the same thing every time, then it’s probably something that needs to be automated. Or if it’s something that’s annoying, it’s something that needs to be automated. So then I have to look at what it is. The other aspect is I cannot do automation work during my peak period. You’ve got to acknowledge, I mean, 569 tax return orders in two months. That’s a huge amount of money of work. Just their tracking that I can’t go and change my system at that point. There is no opportunity to test.
Sure. No, I , I mean, and, and the volume you , you’re having to do a , obviously the more automation the better, but you’ve got to balance that with actually having the resource to do that automation. So you’re in a bit of a sticky situation for that one. You know, which clearly you’ve, you’ve developed a good enough workflow that you’re just continuing to chip away at and , and yes, which is excellent, which is excellent. Um, let’s see. So , um , I mean , so then in terms just a , you know, kind of , uh , if you , when you are , when you’re thinking about , um, just as we round this off, when you’re thinking about , uh, you know, maybe your next steps for integration , uh, and things you’re doing, what’s on your hot list right now?
The hotlist rate now as you know, is the email system. Currently I’m using globimail, but I am noticing that when I deal with a globimail, it’s stocked in the work order that it is originally attached to. And really it needs to be in some cases, flexible enough that it goes across multiple work orders or for matter, a work order that is from one year to the next. So at somebody we’ll discuss by email, but it , it requires a three year tax plan. So I have to be able to carry that message in that work over three years, some of which have not yet been created, but I need to know about them when it comes time.
Sure. And , and I know , um, you know, we , obviously we’ve discussed this , uh , you know, the , the challenge , um, the challenge with Globimail , uh , the way that I think it was originally intended and originally set up by attaching the comments on certain specific items is that the challenge of that is, is that you can’t filter, you can’t sort , you can’t, you know, you can’t link across. And then of course we’re , we’re going to be, you know, my company is actually gonna build our own email solution that we’ve done for you. Um, uh, which, which I know and, and that really is going to give you the opportunity to see all those emails as individual chains of emails that can be linked to anything else you can filter. Show me all the emails between this client on this one, but not this one or all the ones between this, these time periods. All those bits make it a very useful , uh, email integration.
Yes. So that is one of the things that needs to be chipped at. Uh, there are a few other pieces. As I said, the quotation system, I’d like to integrate that in and then that can be integrated to the invoices, but I’m not there yet. Well, it sounds like you’re going to get there. I’m going to get there and when I get there I’m going to think of something else. It’s just that way.
Excellent. Well, I know from personal experience that the, the sort of accountancy in tax rates , uh, you know, area we weirdly started working with more of them lately. Uh , those types of businesses. So I know how powerful it could be. I think this is a great tool to be able to people who are maybe in those industries to be able to listen to the ways you’ve integrated Podio and how it’s helped you. Um, just as a closing kind of thought, I mean tell us a little, I mean, are you, are you looking at , you know, you , you open from new clients, what sort of work you doing? How can people reach you and we’ll make sure we put it into the podcast.
That’s good. I am looking for new clients, but I am going to comment that I am not necessarily someone who’s looking for basic tax returns. I’m looking for somethings which are a little bit more involved. I deal with personal taxes and specifically I am enjoy non-resident Canadians. So those are unique things, scenarios. Also places with such as , uh, estates and trusts where there are deceased and that’s the basic line that I’m looking for for taxes or is there’s always bookkeeping?
No, I’ve just used the way you say that. I realizing I’m a nonresident Canadian citizen and a , I don’t think I’ve ever filed a tax return in Canada.
Well you have no Canadian sourced income so you don’t need to file my extra home. I could go to jail now. But if you’re a US citizen, it’s completely different picture
but if you were having to earn income encounter dot , you have a tax requirement. So I just did it suddenly made me think, oh Jesus Christ I hope I’m not suddenly, you know, 15, 20 years behind on my taxes. Cause that would be a listen , take this podcast to a different area than I was hoping to .
I’m sorry to bring that up. Well, what we’ll do is I’ll embed your website onto the , um , onto the podcast home page and to the podcast description. Um, you know, obviously you, you primarily your basic Canada, but you do work for people all over the world. Um, and uh, you know, people can find you. Your website is what text him, text him. Dot. Ca. Now be aware that there is a tax tim.com that is based in South Africa and they deal with South African taxes, but they use an AI interface to do an English language interpretation of your tax return. Very interesting technology, but that’s not what I do. I do personal service.
Okay, so text him. Dot. Ca uh , I’ll put it up on the podcast. Tim, thanks so much for coming on today. I appreciate that . Being able to hear how someone in your industry, in the financial services, bookkeeping tax can use Podio to track the communications, how it can help you with the communications, how it can help you with , uh , you know, making sure the workflow is, is done. It, I really like your , um, your backup workflow management with the views. I think that’s really clever of a puzzle. And I think people who are listening to this who maybe are , are wondering, you know, can it work for the financial services? You know, can it work for that? This is a very good , uh, uh, you know, conversation for them to see how we can, so thanks so much for joining us today.
Speaker 1: 31:39
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