Scheduling has always been a complicated and time-consuming process for CPA firms, but it’s also crucial for getting the work done.
Part of the problem stems from trying to schedule hours. While some project resources are easy to control (technology, supplies, etc.), people are a little more challenging. That’s because every hour of a person’s time isn’t equal. Some people work faster or slower. Some are more skilled in certain areas than others. If assigning people to engagements was as easy as assigning laptops, scheduling would be a breeze. But people aren’t interchangeable. So it’s crucial not to treat them as such when assigning work. That’s where resource management comes in.
What is resource management?
Resource management is the process of planning and allocating resources to maximize efficiency.
In a CPA firm, we tend to think of resources as staff hours and technology. But it also includes the skill sets of the people performing the work. In some industries, utilizing resources in the most efficient way is so important that companies hire people solely devoted to resource management.
The benefits of resource management include:
- Avoiding problems. By understanding the resources needed to complete a project upfront and making a plan for getting them, you can troubleshoot problems before they happen.
- Prevents burnout. Effective resource management allows you to avoid over-allocating certain resources (i.e., people), which can lead to burnout.
- Builds transparency. You’ll have greater visibility into your staff members’ bandwidth. This will allow you to plan accordingly if your team members are at maximum capacity or available to take on new projects.
- Measures results. With a better understanding of the resources needed to execute an engagement, you can better measure results and look for opportunities to improve.
When you know how to match people with the projects and engagements they’re best suited for, you can increase efficiency without pushing your best people to their limits, and out the door.
5 Steps to Better Resource Management
If you’re ready to stop scheduling hours and start managing your firm’s resources, here are the next steps:
1. Break down tasks within an engagement
Any engagement – from a tax return or audit to advisory services and client on-boarding – has multiple steps and tasks within the engagement. Look at each engagement or project as a whole. Then break them down into individual tasks. Once the task list is complete, you can start to estimate the right resources, based on experience and skill level needed to check off each task.
2. Evaluate resource capabilities
Who is available to take on each task? This goes beyond who has space on their calendar for the engagement. You need to ensure the people with space on their calendar have the skills needed to complete the task. Otherwise, you could have first-year staff accountants drowning in a consolidated tax return and managers performing data entry.
3. Assign tasks to individuals based on their ability
Now that you know which tasks need to be completed and who has the knowledge, experience and capacity to do the work, you can assign tasks to team members.
Having an estimate of the time needed to complete these tasks is helpful. However, hours aren’t the only resource your people bring to the table.
4. Manage and monitor resources
Managing resources is never a “set it and forget it” project. You may need to tweak your allocation as new work comes in, the scope of a project changes and people take time off.
Collecting data, such as utilization, realization, staff to partner ratio, average job turnaround and others can help you course-correct along the way.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Amelio can help increase transparency, reporting and resource constraints, schedule a demo with our Director of Product Development.