Now that the dust has settled on tax season 2021 (at least for now), how did it go this year? Most accountants we’ve spoken to in the past few months are feeling the stress and burnout of two seemingly neverending tax seasons, a whirlwind of economic stimulus legislation, and a dire backlog at the IRS.
If the past 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that much is out of our control. This is why it’s more crucial than ever to focus on what we can control — namely, our firm’s processes. Without efficient and effective business process management, your firm can quickly crumble into the chaos and conflict of paper, loops and long cycle times. Inevitably leading to poor cash flow, lower profits and a less than optimal experience for both internal and external clients.
But where to start? Let’s explore seven areas of opportunity that may open the door to process improvement at your CPA firm
Amelio Power Index
After over a decade of helping firms with workflow and business process management, we’ve identified seven areas of value that consistently affect our clients and the accounting industry. Check out the following areas and ask yourself whether your firm is fully powered in each of these seven areas.
1. Tracking and Visibility
Every accounting firm leader needs to know where the firm’s engagements are in the workflow without micromanaging their team. That requires an automated system for assigning and tracking work that allows everyone in the firm to know what work they need to get done.
2. Workflow and Assignment
Defining, communicating and managing your firm’s processes isn’t always easy. That’s why all of your firm’s processes, from compliance services to billing and client onboarding, need to be documented and capture how the work is completed. Not how things are supposed to be done, but how they’re actually happening in your firm.
When everyone knows what they need to do to get a task done, it’s easier to delegate, freeing up more time for firm leaders and managers to train their team, focus on client relationships and grow the firm.
How well can your firm rely on the data it collects to identify bottlenecks and refine processes? People need real-time access to the necessary data to see where they are now and improve the status quo.
4. Integration and Redundancy
When the different systems you use in your firm don’t communicate, your team can’t communicate, and you lose efficiency.
Identify and weed out areas in which the same information is being entered into several systems. Look for opportunities to integrate these systems to ensure your team has the right information when they need it, and different teams and departments are working in tandem, not silos.
Audits are a challenging workflow area. The nature of these engagements often requires concurrent processes to meet up at key milestones. Without an effective workflow solution, it’s not unusual for the audit team to arrive at a key milestone (like drafting the financial statements), only to realize that another key milestone (like getting a signed engagement letter) was overlooked.
Are your firm’s unique audit methodology and processes fully captured in your workflow? Is your current workflow solution tailored to your firm’s needs? If not, you might be struggling in this area.
Tax is a deadline-driven area, and the penalties for missing a deadline can be stiff — not just in terms of IRS or DOL penalties but in terms of client satisfaction and retention as well. Being able to track tax returns is critical to your firm’s success.
Are your deadlines always met? Or do tax returns get lost and overlooked? Is the handoff between audit and tax smooth and efficient? Even seemingly small improvements in this area can have a major impact.
7. Engagement Letters
Engagement letters serve as your statement of work. They establish client expectations and outline the value you provide.
Is drafting and sending engagement letters a highly manual and error-prone chore? Does your team send engagement letters out (and get them signed) on time? If not, this can be a huge liability for your team.
To help firms get a handle on each of these seven areas, we recently released our Amelio Power Index, a self-assessment tool to help you identify areas of opportunity in which your firm might be underpowered and discover opportunities for improvement. The assessment takes just a few minutes, but it provides some crucial insights into the state of business process management in the profession and your firm.
We hope you find the Power Index useful. If you’re interested in learning more about these seven areas of opportunity and how Amelio can help, please schedule a demo with our Director of Business Development.