How Savvy Firms Free Up Capacity, Without Adding Staff

Talent has always been something that firm leaders have had to manage carefully, but this year seems especially difficult and many firms are wondering what to do about it.  Per Monster.com, accounting roles were ranked in the top 10 hardest positions to fill in 2021.  And it looks like it might get tougher as we go along.  According to the AICPA, over 75% of CPAs will retire in the next 15 years.  Will there be enough new graduates to fill those vacant positions?  Time will tell. But in the meantime you’ve got a firm to run. 

As you find yourself facing the “busier” season head on, you are probably wondering how you can increase your firm’s capacity given that hiring new staff will likely be very challenging.  

Savvy firm leaders look inwards to find capacity  

This article will suggest two key ways that firms of all sizes can refocus the way staff spend their time in order to minimize non-value and time-consuming tasks and free up capacity to complete the higher-value complex work that matters to clients.  The best part is that both of these steps are simple and easy to implement, and neither require changes to any of your existing accounting, tax or practice management solutions.

Understand every step in your engagements, then optimize to reduce time

The way to approach this is to flow out every step in a standard client engagement (let’s say completing a Tax Return, as example), then assign a “Time to Complete” number in minutes for each step.  Once you complete it, step back and see what tasks are not only repetitive, but that are taking valuable time away from other, higher-level work.  For example, you might identify bottlenecks that can be smoothed out with a better process, or, you might find cases of a document being touched twice or more.  Create a process to optimize those right away, document it, and share it with staff.   Every minute you save will add up!

Firm leaders can also use this exercise to see “who” is doing each stage of the work.  It might make sense to offload that part of the job to a more junior person, in order to create leverage for the more senior staff’s time.

How much time were you able to free up, in each engagement?  Probably quite a bit when you add it all up over the number of tax returns your firm will be doing!

It’s not enough to simply focus on optimizing the “real” work  

Because most firms will analyze the steps outlined above starting with once the tax return work can actually begin, they miss an opportunity to save even more time.  And that’s the amount of time it can take just to get the document set together for each client.   This leads us to the second way that firms can free up significant capacity.

Reduce the time your team spends on non-value add “admin” tasks

It turns out there is a TON of wasted time that each staff member spends requesting, gathering, and searching for client documents and information needed to complete the valuable work.  AccountingWeb published a stat in May 2021 that stated that Accountants and Bookkeepers typically spend ~40% of their time just gathering client documents.  Let that sink in for a moment.  The real work hasn’t begun yet, but 2 days of each week are already gone.

Firms who solve this find that SIGNIFICANT capacity can be freed up.  Imagine if all your staff suddenly had up to 2 extra days per week to work on the valuable client work?

It hinges on making it drop-dead easy for clients to interact digitally with your firm.  To do that you first have to recognize that clients are on the go all day – they cannot deal with an email that contains a long list of documents and a link to the portal, with instructions to upload the documents by “x” date.  Firms know this because they typically have to chase clients for documents, or help them to log in to their non-user-friendly portal each year.  

When you make it ridiculously easy for clients to send you documents, they respond quickly with no chasing required.  Look for a solution like Liscio that has helped thousands of accountants to give their clients a drop-dead easy way for them to interact digitally with their accounting firms.  In return, clients send documents in quickly with no chasing required, and firms can free up capacity without hiring additional staff.  Everyone wins.

About Liscio:

Liscio is a secure, cloud-based solution that helps everything you use now to work better.  If you are tired of waiting for clients to send their documents and then having to search across multiple platforms for things they did send, Liscio is for you.  Thousands of accountants use Liscio every day to make it drop-dead easy for clients to securely exchange sensitive documents with the firm and get more work done.  Staff love having complete visibility across every client they are assigned to work on, and nothing slips through the cracks because client-facing and firm-facing tasks keep everyone on track.  Streamline your app stack with integrated efile and KBA capabilities.  Save money with unlimited storage and unlimited clients included with each accountant seat.

Stop chasing clients for documents and give them an easy, secure, mobile file sharing app they’ll love to use.  Your clients and your staff will thank you.  Client Experience 2.0™ begins with Liscio. 

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