We asked our General Manager – the most productive person we know – how we could be more like her. Here are some top tips on accounting-firm efficiency:
Step back and do a task that’s not yours for once. Often, in doing this, you’ll uncover a whole heap of inefficiencies that you couldn’t have known about before, and this can lead to a reinvention of the way this task is completed by staff.
Don’t have time to test it out yourself? Encourage staff to put forward better ways of undertaking tasks, and test new ways of tackling a task. Have one team trial a new process first and iron out any issues before implementing it as the new way.
Finally, be sure that your standard templates and workpapers are up-to-date and consistent firm-wide. This is essential for accuracy, efficiency and professionalism.
Explore new technology
Online accounting, portals for signing and sharing documents, document and email management: the list is endless. However, technology doesn’t always help efficiency and could end up both slowing you down and costing you unnecessary dollars. You need to integrate and/or adjust your process to incorporate new technology and do what works best for your firm.
Measure results quantifiably. If something doesn’t work, ditch it. No matter how sexy the dashboard is.
One thing we can’t stress enough is to go paperless. With a paperless system, everything is available remotely or internally with a simple keyword search.
Set a timeframe for job turnaround and meet that deadline no matter what. Avoid job put-down and pick-up, which adds unnecessary time and effort to the process, and definitely avoid bottlenecks: ensure that once a job has started, it can progress through the various stages without delay.
Delegate whatever you can so that partners and directors can spend more of their (expensive!) time building relationships with clients and sourcing additional work.
One very effective way to save time higher up the ladder is to encourage accountants to self-review an assignment before submitting for review by a manager. This can save a bunch of time (and money – seniors are expensive) in rework.
Program clients’ work for a particular time and let your clients know exactly when you’ll need their records and how they should get them to you. We recommend communicating via a secure, speedy client portal.