If you could build your Karbon database over again, what would you differently?

  • 16 February 2023
  • 6 replies

Userlevel 2
Badge +1

Hi! We are still testing Karbon and loving it so far. I am interested in what you as current users would have done differently in establishing your database now that you are living in it every day? Any feedback is greatly appreciated!


6 replies

Userlevel 4
Badge +5

If we had a do-over I would have created all the templates for the work instead of thinking that we would “eventually” get to them. When we finally made it a priority we had to go back and change everyone’s work and re-added the customization to the new work items because the original templates were so far off from the new templates that we created. I would also make sure to added the role to each task so when you assign the work the tasks get assigned and it shows properly in MyWeek.

Userlevel 2
Badge +1

@Julie Wiesensee 

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

Don’t get lazy and think I will add the rest of the details later.  Later usually never comes.


Userlevel 7
Badge +13

Have a set plan for how you will set up the clients in writing and give it to everyone who will be creating contacts.  List exactly what you want to be included when a new client is set up.

We work very similarly to Max.  A husband and wife are created as an organization and all work is assigned to this contact.  If the couple gets divorced, you can stop using the organization and move to the individual clients without losing any details and work.

We use the Group feature for clients with 1040 returns and business returns.  This gives us a place to see all their work items in one place and which entity they are associated with.

Here is the basic set up:

Client - Jim and Jane Smith

We create  individual contacts for Jim Smith and Jane Smith

  • This contact will have their email address, cell phone number, and address as a contact card
  • The accounting details will contain their date of birth and social security number

Then we create an organization for Smith, Jim & Jane.  We add both their email and cell phone numbers to the contact details.  We also add their address.  In the account details, we leave a note with their SS#s and DOB.

If they own a business, it becomes another organization.  We then create a group using their last name and the name of the business. Smith/ Acme Group.  If they have multiple businesses, we usually use the largest as the second part of the name.

Don’t get lazy and think I will add the rest of the details later.  Later usually never comes. Then you spend a lot of time with an Excel spreadsheet adding missing date points so Karbon can do a bulk update.

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

Great question @Megan Roberts 

I would make a plan for contact types, client groups, client owners and client managers - all of these have become unruly in our organization.  This plan then needs to be communicated and understood by the whole team.  Deviations from the plan reduce the effectiveness of the filters for reporting. 

I would also spend time on creating the Workflow settings.  Statuses and Work/Task Types are so effective but can also get very messy.  If you know your main processes these tools keep everything in line.  The character count is limited, so clarity is key and beware of similar language for sub-statuses - that has caused confusion in my world.

Any chance you get to attend a webinar with Ian Vacin on processes is well worth your time!  I am a big fan of all of the Karbon content that comes my way but if you have to pick and choose...

I agree with @max everything you can do to ensure repeating work survives work resets is worth the effort at the start.

And finally, this community is an amazing place to get ideas and tips on how Karbon can be utilized.

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

Hi @Megan Roberts, welcome to the Karbon community!

I love that you are testing. We tested Karbon with one small department before bringing it on board completely, and I highly recommend the approach.

The biggest thing that I would do differently is take time to add ALL the contact detail information for anyone you bring in. There’s a lot of detail you can add and we only put in email addresses when we got started.

I’m curious how other firms handle this, but we used client groups for joint returns, which turned out to be an unwise choice for multiple reasons. We are still working through some of the kinks of switching over to organizations. I don’t know if this is the best, but here’s how we have it now:

  • One organization for the couple “Jane and James Smith”
    • Address
    • Primary and/or home phone number
    • Billing email address (might be a duplicate of one of the person contacts
    • Joint return work item
  • Jane Smith
    • Business card with role “Spouse” to couple org
    • Email address
    • Mobile phone
    • Work phone
  • James Smith
    • Business card with role “Spouse” to couple org
    • Email address
    • Mobile phone
    • Work phone

Another thing we are doing now is adding custom client requests and work tasks to the description field of repeating work because it survives if the work is reset to the template. This will allow you to pull in updated templates and still maintain specific client customizations, albeit at a rudimentary level.

If you use a GL software for invoicing, use Zapier to sync client data over so it mirrors your Karbon data.

We use client groups to keep track of certain kinds of clients. This may help with group actions like sending marketing emails to a certain subset of your clients. Client groups act like tags and a single client can be in multiple groups. We also use client groups to gather multiple organizations together who share the same ownership, like “Smith Companies” and then put every org and individual related to the companies in the group.

If you plan to use URL parameters for things like prefilled Typeform or DocuSign links in client request emails using the placeholder tags, make sure none of your names have the “&” symbol as that breaks the parameter string in the URL.

That’s all I can think of right now. I’m sure others have lots of good ideas. 😊