The Problem of Workload Compression
If you’re an accounting firm, workload compression is probably a big issue. In fact, a study by the tech company Right Networks along with the CPA firm Management Association, surveyed 162 CPA’s after tax season and found that workload compression was the biggest concern for 40 percent of CPA firms as they prepared for tax season.
The reality is, workload compression will always exist to some degree. Therefore, the best thing to do is to figure out ways to manage it effectively.
1) Identify How Workload Compression Affects Your Firm
Every firm is different. So, it stands to reason that workload compression impacts firms differently.
What are the causes of workload compression in your firm?
Is it confusion about new tax laws?
Difficulty with certain returns?
Clients avoiding extensions and demanding their return?
2) Execute a Plan
Once you’ve figured out the “why’s” and the “how’s” you have to focus on the “what.” In other words, now that you know the specifics of your workload problems, what are you going to do about them?
That plan differs considerably if you’re a larger firm as opposed to a smaller firm and vice versa. For example, dropping a few clients mitigate the workload compression but if you’re a smaller practice you probably depend on tax season to generate revenue.
• Hire Temporary accountants or paid interns
Staffing is an important factor in dealing with compression. Hiring temporary or seasonal employees can be a good option for your firm. There are many accountants that choose to work within specific time frames because it fits their lifestyle. Experiencing practitioners don’t always work all year round. Look within this pool to boost your workforce.
Likewise, interns are also viable options during busy periods. Practical work experience gives recent graduates or current students the necessary training to work as CPA’s. Moreover, internships can turn into full time positions if they perform well, benefiting them and your firm.
3) Use Technology To Your Advantage
Many firms in the study mentioned above report that the biggest changes they made before tax season were software improvements. Specifically, firms used e-filing and digital signing technology to go paperless.
Additionally, 72 percent of firms asked about the benefits of hosting tax applications on the cloud said they favored anywhere, anytime access. 67 percent consider the cloud secure and 34 percent noted improved collaboration with personnel and 20 percent saw improved collaboration with clients.
Cloud accounting and workflow software like QuickBooks, which is designed for accountants, reduce staff time, make communication with clients and staff more effective and can optimize staff performance. Learn more about hosting QuickBooks here.
Managed IT support services offering cloud integration allows for the that collaboration and workflow efficiency.
4) Schedule Smarter
Don’t work on returns until all the necessary information has been provided by the client. Also, working on complicated tax matters before tax season starts can give you a leg up on other firms and position you to work more efficiently.
This tactic requires communication with your clients before the year ends and instead of waiting for their information to come in.
If you’re a firm with a fair amount of non-tax season work, that’s okay. Schedule days in which you can focus on tax returns only. Then, organize your firms so reviewers can work those client returns.
5) Communicate With clients
Communication is an underrated tool for many CPA firms, however it can facilitate tax processes like you wouldn’t believe.
In an age of social media and instant messaging, clients expect a level of personalized service. That shouldn’t be looked at as negative but rather, as mutually beneficial.
Communicating changes to clients through newsletters, emails, calls, social media, and tax updates will prepare your firm in anticipation of tax season where most firms simply react to it.
This gives your clients the personal touch they appreciate while giving you the information you need ahead of time.
Your firm shouldn’t wait until tax season to prepare. A proactive approach to workload compression can come a long way when peak season hits and your firm is pressed for time.
Workload compression is the dreadful for everyone and hopefully, the tips reviewed here can alleviate it for your firm. Always plan ahead before tax season and tax season might not get the better of you.
For more tips, check out the Nerd Support blog where we discuss technology, strategies and more CPA’s can use to improve their firm.