An efficient workflow process can reduce your firm's turnaround time, hours budget and increase capacity for new projects or clients to drive revenue. How can your firm do this? You have to implement a business improvement strategy that will more efficiently track the progress of your firm’s projects. To do this, follow the four major components of the efficient workflow system - selling, setup, doing and selling.
First, you have to sell the workflow process and the value of the job. Using a calendar system, have your client service coordinator schedule the work in advance. Don’t bring all of your work forward early, space it out by deadlines. Meet with the client to discuss and scope out the project. Remember the clearer the scope, the better the service. Then value the price of the job and discuss the project with others - team members or other accountants - to get a better feel for the upfront price. Communicate the price to the client, have them sign off on the project and then pay either a deposit or the full amount to your client service coordinator.
Second, you have to setup the job or project by collecting materials and getting it ready for action. Your client service coordinator is heavily involved in this phase. Make sure your client knows everything you need by having your client service coordinator send a checklist to gather all materials and information. Check that everything has been received and if materials are missing then contact the client immediately. Be proactive by calling, emailing or even visiting the client to receive the missing information. This will help minimize the number of open jobs your firm has. Log the job into your electronic and visual workflow systems. Visually displaying your system like on an office whiteboard as well as electronically will increase team accountability per job. Draft the internal hours budget, and have a team discussion to determine how to challenge and minimize the hours drafted. Then, allocate and explain the job to the team member doing the work.
Third, is doing the job or creating the product you setup. During this phase, you want to think about the PANALITIX Awesome 8 to find additional services to offer the client. You’ll often find there are services your client needs but don’t have because they haven’t asked for them. Stop waiting and ask them yourself. What other opportunities are there to provide extra services to this client that they aren’t already using? While doing the work, ask yourself what ideas do you have to fulfill each of the Awesome 8 for this client. These ideas are your conversation starters for the next time you meet with the client.
Fourth, back to the selling drawing board. Meet with the client to present the finished project and present your new ideas established during the doing phase. Communicate these ideas and then sell the next project to this client. Be sure to also ask the client for a referral, especially if they are an ‘A’ class or ‘B’ class client. Follow up with the client about the new project, revert back to element one and repeat this efficient process over and over again.
By implementing this process and following the four major elements within the 18-step workflow process, your firm will increase efficiency, increase average hourly rates and your write-offs will become write-ons. Take back control of your workflow because it’s your business, not your clients.
About the Author
Colin DunnDirector & Co-founder at PANALITIX
Colin is a Chartered Accountant who, having spent almost 10 years with one of the fastest growing and most innovative firms in the UK, has since invested over 20 years helping business owners to improve their businesses with a focus on attracting new clients, better managing existing clients, developing new products, building an engaged team and strengthening internal business processes.
Colin's primary focus at PANALITIX is on product development and business improvement content. He is the author of the bestselling book “Accountants: The Natural Trusted Advisors".