Planning is a decisive element in the successful development of new assignments in accounting firms. Better work organization will not suffice in and of itself, of course, but one thing is certain: without new planning, there will be no new projects!
Developing new projects is all very fine, but how?
The vast majority of accountants are now convinced that the future will entail developing new services and new sources of revenue. But they often find themselves at a loss when it comes to taking action. This is particularly due to lack of time: many firms do not see how they can develop their offering when they have just enough time to attend to their traditional tasks!
This article is not intended to set out the process for developing new projects in detail. But let us go over a few obvious points, nonetheless. To do so, accountants will have to
- Define the assignments that are appropriate for their firm: strategy, client expectations, team skills and competencies, etc.
- Define and formalize the production and sales processes for these new propositions. In other words, answer the questions "how to produce them" and "how to sell them" at the same time.
- Free up time for the teams. If no one is available, no one will ever develop new source of revenues!
- Reorganize traditional regulatory production. As many of the support assignments are very much linked thereto, this is an imperative point requiring efficiency.
- Make better use of available skills. Not everyone in the firm will be able to go outside the traditional framework. This means that the allocation of resources will have to be reviewed while the organization of work within the firm will in turn have to be reimagined.
How can better planning help you develop new projects? All these problems will not be solved magically. But its efficiency is a sine qua non: to save time, of course, but also to reorganize the firm's activities.
Effective planning saves time
In the face of current (and future) developments, firms must first save time. To that end, there is much talk, and rightly so, of automating production tasks and updating processes.
But there is a third dimension to saving time: improved planning. Our experience has shown that, for several reasons, this lever is often under-exploited by firms that have invested a lot in production-related tools, but much less in methods, and little in organization.
Yet deadlines and budgets are met thanks to planning. When carried out in real time, it makes it possible to manage unforeseen events, such as an absence, or an exceptional assignment, etc. The majority of the profession today plans the tax period at the beginning of the season, a practice that has two major flaws:
- It takes up a lot of time for partners and/or project managers,
- It is difficult to follow-up and adapt as the season progresses.
Under such conditions, firms very often give up. They are content to carry out a “rough” planning exercise to "see whether it works". But they do not get any concrete benefits for their agendas. They are not able to identify the skills they could free up to deal with a contingency or special request. As a result, when an opportunity arises, partners often manage it themselves if they still can. Or they find themselves forced to turn it down.
"Good work organization is the key to efficiency, and therefore to the profitability of the firm. It is possible to plan in Excel, of course, and many professionals still do. But this solution is time-consuming and difficult to update in real time. Therefore, we have invented an ad hoc tool for managing the planning of firms. It offers great flexibility for assigning tasks and projects, managing unforeseen events, new assignments, absences, and departures of staff, etc. It also makes it possible to share information in real time with the whole team. Beeye gives an overview of the constraints of each team member, at any time. In case of unforeseen events, it is extremely easy to identify solutions to regain flexibility in the agendas. The time saved is real", says Adrien Sicard, CEO of Beeye.
New tasks are better integrated with recurring ones through effective planning
Most of the new support tasks are closely linked to the traditional task of producing the accounts. Some are upstream - administrative management, secretarial work, invoicing, etc. - and others are downstream, such as business and cash management.
It is therefore necessary for the interventions of each party to be perfectly coordinated. If one of the parties involved falls behind by giving priority to another project, it blocks the entire production chain. Careful coordination of actions is therefore essential to ensure that the new jobs fit in well with the old ones.
Needless to say, good planning is absolutely vital to ensure that old and new projects can coexist with different participants in the various production stages!
New assignments do not follow the pace of tax returns or the tax period. Firms need much more detailed planning, by the week, and even by the day. Without the right tool, it is almost impossible to do this.
"Beeye allows for different approaches to planning depending on the user's needs. We can thus have a very macro vision, in large masses, to ensure the global availability of resources, and a very micro approach, on a day-to-day basis, to ensure that each employee will be assigned to the right project at the right time.”
Effective planning frees up scarce skills
Another considerable advantage is that fine-tuned, real-time planning of the entire team's tasks makes it possible to manage the allocation of scarce resources better. This is a key issue when new assignments are being developed since not all staff will be able to go beyond their traditional ones. Firms will therefore have to allocate skills where they are indispensable.
To put it another way, it is counterproductive to entrust basic tasks to an employee who can carry out more complex tasks that only he or she can handle. This is the famous principle of subsidiarity, whereby a person should only carry out a task if a lower-level employee is not able to do so.
To implement this principle, firms will have to plan their projects differently, i.e., no longer according to the time available per employee, but according to these scarce skills. If only one member of the firm is capable of presenting figures to a client, he or she will be given priority for projects that involve this type of service. And that person's current tasks will be allocated to other members of the team who are able to do them.
So, the whole approach to project assignment will have to be reviewed. A staff member will no longer be assigned complete projects, but blocks of tasks (segments of assignments) according to the skills of each person. This will require good insight into these task blocks, the skills required to carry them out, and finally the skills of each employee.
"Tasks cannot be segmented by level of difficulty and by employee easily without a suitable tool. Beeye proposes to create assignment models with identified task blocks and the corresponding skills. Once the profile of each employee has been entered, planning is no longer a chore; it even becomes fun, as its users themselves are wont to say!”
Optimizing planning: a key step in the development of the firm
Planning is a sterling weapon for firms in their strategy to develop new services. To be effective, it must be based on the following main principles:
- Carry out, monitor and update planning in real time,
- Work on the scale of blocks of tasks rather than entire projects,
- Optimize the allocation of scarce resources,
- Make sure planning is very easy and quick to carry out.
For all these reasons, the use of a software like Beeye has every chance of becoming indispensable all too quickly. To find out more about the solution's features, go to: https://www.mybeeye.com/en.
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