Workstream Pools: Have you Found Your Waterslide?

Sometime this summer, my CCH Axcess updated.

You know how this works. When you’re in the cloud, you wake up one day, log in and it updates on the fly.

Well, I went into the system’s Workstream to see where some of my summer extensions were and everything was in “The Pool.”

Obviously, the returns as well as myself, were in for a much needed vacation. So I decided to go swimming.

I dived in and realized with this new Axcess update, CCH came up with a rebrand of how to work out of a drawer. For whatever reason, CCH decided it was not a drawer but a Pool. I’m a swimmer from way back, so I was into it!

I have yet to find the waterslide, but the water temperature is perfect!

Here’s what I’ve learned so far (I share this from a float in The Pool).

Working the Strokes in the Project Pool

There are a few basics you need to know.

A project is designated as Working from the Pool when anyone is allowed to work on the project and if the file holder is In the Pool, then the project is waiting for someone to pick up the project and become the file holder. Anyone in the firm can assign themselves as the file holder.

There are three ways to assign yourself as the file holder: when working on a return that is linked to a Working from The Pool project, from the The Pools pane, or from the project profile in Workstream.

Our firm is small enough that we don’t use The Pool; returns are specifically assigned as we only have a handful of preparers.

However, I can see how The Pool could be helpful. I haven’t figured out yet how to find the return in The Pool with the right size folder, i.e. amount of documents. We all know that sometimes depending on the mood you are in you want to pick an easy, medium or complex return. Sometimes, you just don’t want to deal with customers who send in so much extra stuff. Partners really know that staff pick tax returns to prepare based on the width of an old school file folder and how they are feeling at that particular moment. Am I right?

Aside from my Pool update, I’ve finally got my extreme navigation project folders in a way that I can see the location of everything. I love this! My office manager mocks me because I have so many different views saved and she always tells me, “You know you can just filter down on one.”

No not me.

I need it saved in a special place.

You should see my desktop!

Mock me all you want but I can get a macro view of everything that is going on throughout the office with only a few clicks. I have my Project

Folders sorted by forms, by prep tabs, by review tabs and by specific people.

Workstream Projects

Since there are no stacks of paper on anyone’s desk, I keep an eye on the work by creating tabs for each employee.

Now you may ask why specific people have tabs. I’m sure you have one of those specific people in your firm. You know who they are. Hoarders…the ones who can’t let go of a return because they are just waiting for one last thing that may or may not be important. Well, as partners we have to keep a close eye on those employees whose attention to detail is awesome but sometime needs a nudge to keep it all moving.

In the old days, you could walk around the office and see who had the biggest pile of returns on their desk or floor. Thankfully, today, this tab gives me the exact same insight without being a helicoptering managing partner.

Now, I can do it just as discreetly like when you used to snoop around after your staff went home. I can see exactly where the piles are collecting and the bottlenecks are happening. And I can follow up appropriately – especially when this person is a remote worker.

So I have to say, my swim was pretty productive. My workflow is smooth and clear, even if I haven’t found my waterslide yet. I invite you to dive in and take a dip, the water’s fine!

To learn more about how to be more efficient using digital workflows, download “Digital Workflow Tracking: A Better Way to Work.


Jody Padar, CPA, MST

CEO & Principal, New Vision CPA Group

All stories by: Jody Padar, CPA, MST

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