Time for some New Year’s resolutions? By David Smith on Jul 6, 2023
Happy New Year! I hope that your year has been a great success and that you’re not getting lapped. Hopefully your 2022 work is cleared away and ready for the 2023 work to start. If you’ve been on holiday with the kids I hope you haven’t been caught up in the airport chaos.
Whether or not you’ve been on holiday, I hope you can find the time to take a break and reflect on the year that was. What has gone well and what needs to be improved? Now is the time to put a plan in place, and set some new year’s resolutions to improve your business and your client service. Here are a few things to consider:
- Do you have sufficient free capacity (the excess of available time over predicted work)? Aim for well north of 10%. Growth focussed firms aim for 20%. If you do have free capacity do you have a plan for senior people to delegate more of their work? The objective should be to try to ensure that most of the free capacity resides with senior people. These are the people who can then engage with clients and develop new work opportunities.
- Should you be considering different sources of labour? Many firms have taken the leap to offshoring with varying degrees of success. It needs to be considered. Are there opportunities to employ retirees, many of whom would like to work for a couple of days a week? Their IT skills are not as bad as you think! Longer term have you pondered a cadet program to employ school leavers on a part-time basis as they do their studies? Many tend to stick around and can have senior skills at a younger age due to the experience they receive from starting early.
- Do you have a plan to regularly conduct client needs reviews? Regular readers would be aware that we have long advocated that practitioners should be having a broad-ranging, open-ended discussion with every client every year to discover the issues that are concerning them and opportunities to help. It’s a fishing expedition. We have developed a Needs Review document that outlines up to 100 issues that could be discussed with a client. If you don’t have this document, you can download it here. By doing these needs reviews you are showing clients that you care and are changing perceptions that you can assist them well beyond tax compliance.
- Have you implemented a resource plan? A resource plan outlines when each compliance job will be done, who will do it, and how many hours it should take. You plan your work this way to 80% of capacity leaving 20% for unexpected work. Client agreement is obtained as to the month their work will be done, and that information will be submitted six weeks before the month the work is due to start. This allows work to be smoothed throughout the year. It improves turnaround time and lock-up. Team members are happier with less stress and time pressure. Those that have implemented these plans report that it is the most transformative concept that they have ever applied to their firm.
- Do you have a plan to review your technology? In the past few years we have seen many of the incumbent suppliers stumble, new suppliers have emerged for different parts of the core suite. FYI is establishing itself as the leader in cloud document management. Kloud Connect is revealing next generation practice management. Do you have a plan to experiment with process automation? Have a look at FYI’s process automation functionality. Have you experimented with and pondered how you may be able to make use of artificial intelligence (AI)? Throw some tasks at ChatGPT. It is unlikely to be 100% right, but I suspect you’ll also find some interesting responses that you may use.
- Lastly, do you have an aggressive plan to pull apart and rebuild your processes? We need to find opportunities to automate, eliminate process steps, and improve how you receive and send information to clients. Build a list of all your processes and conduct a detailed review of one each month. Some firms have adopted two-tier processes with simpler more streamlined processes for smaller less risky clients.
So there are a few things to ponder. What else could you add to your new year’s resolution list?
I hope you have a highly successful and enjoyable 2023/24.
David Smith conducts firm reviews and facilitates the development of strategic plans and business plans. Contact David at [email protected] to explore how he may be able to help your firm.