Your second step to improving efficiency
Improve Efficiency by Providing Staff with Standardised Electronic Workpapers, Tax Checklists and Template Letters
Another common ‘efficiency killer’ in accounting firms is a lack of standardisation. If a firm lacks a culture that values the benefits of standardisation and lacks an effective tool to ensure all staff are working off standardised, centrally stored master versions of procedures, electronic workpapers, checklists, letters and other templates, the unseen cost to the firm is enormous.
You might be staggered to know the cost to your firm of repeated ‘reinvention of the wheel’ where your staff or particular workgroups create their own versions of documents, workpapers and templates, unaware that what they are creating has already been created by someone else in the firm a number of times. Standardisation is an important issue to manage for any growing firm and is particularly pertinent to multi-partner firms.
There’s a facetious saying that multi-partner accounting firms are merely a collection of sole practitioners sharing office space. This refers to the operational silo effect where different areas of the firm operate independently in relation to their processes and standards. It is a very common scenario where each area of a firm is ‘doing their own thing’ in relation to procedures (if there are in fact any documented), templates and precedents. There is a lack of standardisation across the firm and therefore a lack of agreed best practice that defines ‘this is the way we do it here’ across the firm. The efficiencies achievable through standardisation are foregone.
Standardisation must start at the top with the principal or a key partner championing standardisation and systemisation in the firm. At every opportunity staff need to be reminded of the benefits to them, to the firm and to clients of standardisation. These benefits include:
– Saving time: Avoiding ‘reinvention of the wheel’ in relation to templates and standards
– Efficient completion of work because well designed templates ensure all relevant issues are considered in the completion of the job, and in doing so
– Job turnaround times are minimised
– WIP levels are reduced
– High quality levels are maintained
– Consistent presentation of documents to reviewers and to clients, which leads to
– Dramatically reduced review times
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