Redefining Accounting Firm Productivity in 2021
When it comes to accounting firm productivity, success is no longer measured by the amount of data that can be entered in an afternoon. Productivity is not measured by hours clocked or by the number of bank transactions categorized. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technologies are not only able to take over those tasks, but make doing them an actual waste of time. So if data entry and manipulation is not a successful way to measure productivity, what is?
How can accounting firms be more productive?
It’s time to redefine accounting firm productivity in a way that’s not only measurable, but that moves the needle progressively as well as financially. Three factors contributing to successful productivity in 2021 are technology, upskilling, and the ability to work remotely.
Invest in practice management technology
The selection of software, hardware, and apps that a firm can implement is commonly referred to as their ‘tech stack’. Maintaining a current, relevant, and integrated tech stack can make all the difference when it comes to determining the amount of work that can get done in a day.
- Are you still spending time on accounts receivable? You probably need to implement value billing and a recurring payment system, like Abacus Payment Exchange inside OfficeTools Cloud.
- Are you still entering data or uploading transactions? You might need to set up bank feeds or some other data sync.
- Are you still keeping physical receipts or a mileage log? Consider adding a receipt or mileage tracking application to your tech stack.
- Are there stacks of folders all over your desk with stamps and envelopes to mail clients documents for signatures? Try software with E-sign capabilities and/or a document storing and sharing tool.
Having the right accounting firm technology not only saves you time but also payroll costs. You may not need an admin or other entry-level employee to do simple tasks; let AI handle it and consider upskilling your team.
If this sounds like you’ll need to invest in multiple platforms — you won’t. Integrated practice management solutions like OfficeTools Cloud combine all the technology mentioned above (and more) into a single, integrated solution.
Where does your firm stand? Instantly download the Accounting Firm Technology Checklist
Upskill your team
In the information age, upskilling your team has never been easier. Now that technology has taken over our number crunching and data entering tasks, practitioners need to take on new roles. Those in accounting roles are no longer selling time, but rather knowledge and ideas. If you are struggling to take your business or even clients to the next level, upskilling is the way to do it. It is a productive use of time to take that class or webinar. Not only will it improve your skills, but those of your organization as a whole: a rising tide lifts all boats. Take the time you used to spend categorizing transactions and spend that hour creating a summary of your client’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Make some ratio observations and predictions as to where their business is headed.
Never done this before? Watch a webinar, Youtube, listen to a podcast, or read an article and level up your skillset in minutes. If you have a team, consider investing in a learning opportunity for them to attend together, and maybe even treat them to lunch afterward. Not only will it build rapport within your team, if done correctly, it will also allow you to increase prices, take on more clients and keep your business relevant. Soon, entry-level skills won’t have a real place in an AI world.
Enable remote work
Are you (or your employees) now spending an hour in the car each way to work? That’s so pre-Covid. Many companies initially didn’t allow employees to work from home for fear that they wouldn’t work. However, a study done by Stanford of 16,000 workers over nine months found that working from home increased productivity by thirteen percent. This performance increase was attributed to a better working environment, fewer breaks, and fewer sick days. Additionally, they found employee satisfaction improved. An old boss of mine used to say
‘When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you do good.’
Increasing employee satisfaction will, by nature, cause people to work better, harder, and more efficiently.
Implementing these three key strategies will not only improve accounting firm productivity but will also improve team rapport, which will in turn improve client rapport. Mundane tasks are boring, and bored employees don’t tend to make productive ones. Encourage your team to use their creative minds, sell their knowledge and ideas, and leave the mundane to AI.
Your bottom line will thank you.
Source: Bloom, Nicholas, et al. “DOES WORKING FROM HOME WORK? EVIDENCE FROM A CHINESE EXPERIMENT.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 3 Mar. 2015.