Job management - why overcomplicate it?
Managing workload is key for any accounting practice to operate effectively and serve their clients well. But it is far too easy to over-complicate job management. In this article, we break down the process and assess how practices might benefit from adopting a more jobs-based approach.
What counts as a job?
All work performed in a professional service organization, including accounting firms, is essentially a job. In your practice, you may call it a project or assignment, but it’s the same thing. All jobs have a frequency and a duration. Some are one-off, such as litigation or forensic work, whereas tax returns and other frequent work can be annual, quarterly, or more frequent.
Much of the work of an accounting firm is repetitive jobs that come around with regular and predictable cadence. As a result, it should be easier to plan for these and create appropriate processes for dealing with them. Tax returns, audits, client accounting and others are all very similar within themselves. They are ideal candidates for benefitting from using a job-based approach.
Templates and comparisons
The variety, scale, and complexity of all work performed by an accounting firm should be distilled into process-oriented job templates. As always, fewer is better; however, the nature of work being performed will dictate the profile.
Carrying out all work using a standard template enables you to compare between such jobs over many metrics. One example – what the profile of all work on tax returns looks like. What is the largest, the smallest, the average, by value of input, output, time to complete, and any others which can be used? This ability to compare using standards highlights and confirms what is good, and removes or reduces the bad. The margin contribution effect of this over time can be profound.
A key to using jobs as a major component of a professional firm is to ensure that the scope of the project is clearly defined. This clarity is for the benefit of the customer as well as the team performing the job. The customer knows what they are getting, and the firm knows what it is providing, in very simple terms.
The scope will define the dates to start and to deliver, stages, each party’s responsibilities, and other pertinent points for the job. All are geared to provide the deliverable per the engagement.
After starting the job, it needs to be monitored for conformity to the plan, highlighting any/all out of scope work that is required and dealing with this, according to the process plan.
Making this whole process simpler and streamlined can be easily achieved today, thanks to technology. A fully integrated solution that enables you to combine all of these elements is what you need.