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finding the capacity to offer advisory services

Finding the Capacity to Offer Advisory Services

Jul 13, 2021 | By Geni Whitehouse | 0 Comments

Topics: Firm Management, Accounting, BQE CORE

The pandemic exposed a problem that was already a challenge for accountants: limited capacity. Faced with increasing complexity around tax and financial statement reporting requirements, numerous government relief programs that changed almost daily, and a difficult hiring market, many accounting professionals are exhausted and overwhelmed.

Add to that: the frustration of working remotely on disconnected internal tools and increasing client demands, and it’s clear we need to rethink the way we work – from who we serve to how we deliver service and how we price and bill.

The extra capacity many firms seek is often hidden in plain sight, held captive in systems with inadequate reporting, limited data fields, or stand-alone databases. The secrets to finding your missing capacity is buried in your uncollected AR aging, their poor utilization statistics, or in their low realization. So where to start?

Review Your Internal Processes

It all starts with the tools that support your firm in delivering the kind of timely, proactive service that results in higher value and more capacity. By reviewing your current processes and the flow of data between people and systems, you will be able to find opportunities to eliminate waste and free up valuable resource time.

Start with each step in acquiring a new client, and then consider the scheduling of work. Is each step of the process recorded? How do you track the status of activities throughout the project?

Optimize Client Acquisition

Consider these steps:

Step 

Questions to Consider

Owner Assigned?

Process Documented? 

Initial Inquiry

  • Source – phone? Web? Email?
  • How handled?
  • Typical response time?
  • Who receives?
 

First Meeting – phone or in person

  • Is there a standard process? Do you have a pre-meeting questionnaire?
  • What does your ideal client look like?
  • What are indicators that your firm might not be the right fit?
  • Who handles in your firm?
 

Proposal
Generation

  • Do you have standard templates?
  • How is pricing determined?
  • Can documents be electronically signed?
  • Who creates and monitors the status of these?
  • Who determines the pricing and project plan?
 

Follow Up

  • Do you have a standard email template for outstanding proposals? Do you track the close rates? If so, where?
  • Who is responsible for follow up?
 

Engagement Letter Sent

  • Do you have a standard template for engagement letters? Can they be signed electronically?
  • Who creates these? How long does it take after proposal acceptance to send the engagement letter?
 

Client Acceptance

  • What steps are required to add a new client to your internal tools?
  • How many different tools must you update?
  • Who owns this process?
 

 

Scheduling the Work & Managing Resources

Review project management to identify opportunities to eliminate delays and waste. 

Step 

Questions to Consider

Owner Assigned?

Process Documented? 

Project Scope

  • Is the Scope of the project clearly defined in the engagement letter? Who determines it?
  • Who owns the scope definition? Are they always optimistic in their planning?
 

Project Planning 

  • What activities are required to complete a project?
  • Who assigns resources?
  • What information can the project planner review to determine project estimates?
  • Who is in charge of resource scheduling?
  • Is it by skill or by function?
 

Budgets

  • Who determines the expected budget for a given project?
  • How are prices determined? Fixed fee or hourly?


Who reviews the budget and fee estimate?

 

Deadline 

  • Who determines the deadline date?
  • Does it include contingencies?
  • How accurate are most project budgets?
  • Can you run a report of project variances?
   

Once you have the steps documented, look for gaps:

  • Where do unnecessary time delays happen?
  • How does the experience feel from the prospective client’s position?
  • Are you spending too much time on manual processes? If so, automation can free up capacity at each point.

How Automation Can Help

By reviewing and documenting these first two steps in generating and managing your work, you will be able to uncover opportunities for applying automation to provide more timely insights, increased use of your teams, and ultimately better client service. BQE Core can help you tie your data together in one seamless application, giving you back countless hours in acquiring clients, managing the work, and ultimately understanding which clients are best served by your firm. You will find increased capacity by doing the right work for fewer clients. Once you focus your efforts on fewer clients, you can provide higher value service and increase your revenues.

The Author

Geni Whitehouse

Geni Whitehouse, CPA.CITP is a renowned keynote presenter at CPA and Technology conferences around the world. Named a Top 100 Influencer by Accounting Today, one of 25 Thought Leaders in Accounting, and one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Accounting by CPA Practice Advisor, Geni is the author of “How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 ways even a nerd can be heard”. Geni lives in the beautiful Napa Valley where she serves as a winery consultant at Brotemarkle, Davis & Co.

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