Utilization and realization. Those two words are likely the driving force behind every successful accounting firm. Are you utilizing your resources efficiently? How much revenue are you realizing for every hour your team works? In other words, how are you performing?
Believe it or not, standardized processes are the backbone of your firm’s performance. It gives you a baseline to track and measure performance against, telling you whether you’re utilizing all available resources, and allowing you to maximize revenue.
Standardization will also put in place the structure for your team to execute high-quality work efficiently, and provide a scalable infrastructure for your the future growth of your practice.
At our offsite accounting firm, we realized in our early stages of growth that we needed to document our processes for training purposes (ie. hiring new employees to keep up with our growth.)
Knowledge transfer & documentation
As the founder, the only person who knew the business from start to finish was me, and I knew this wasn't a scalable model. Plus, needing to be a part of everything left me feeling quite overwhelmed! So I implemented three things that changed the way we worked and helped make Xcelerate the firm it is today.
I knew I needed to transfer my knowledge, or nothing would change. I had to replace myself by standardizing our processes.
We read a book that changed our personal and business lives—Making Money is Killing Your Business. The book’s author, Chuck Blakeman is located in Denver, just one hour from where we're based in Fort Collins, so we began a coaching relationship with his team—Crankset Group.
To help me transfer my knowledge to the team, we started what Crankset Group calls Freedom Mapping—creating freedom by mapping out our processes. It’s just like a budget—but with your time. People think of a budget as constricting, but it actually gives you freedom knowing how much you can spend in various areas. It’s the same with freedom mapping—there is freedom created because you understand what has to be done and how long it takes.
To help our Account Specialists understand this concept—and see a client’s journey from onboarding to monthly accounting work—we created process pictures with Google Draw. My husband, who has the gift of communication, then took our boxes and arrows and added graphics, pictures, and a flow that any new hire could understand. It is beautiful! And we are very proud of our workflow. You can see an example of our new client onboarding process map here.
A team to hold accountable
To get every procedure written down, we put together a team of knowledgeable Account Specialists who love processes. We met once a week for a few weeks with the end goal to develop a template for each process. We would draft it, then put it into practice with the next new client, while continually improving it along the way.
Visibility of those processes was key
Once developed, we transferred our visual concepts into checklists in Karbon. You can download our new client acquisition template here.
The tools provided by Karbon have been transformational in getting our visual processes and checklists into our daily working lives.
The fact that Karbon shows me which clients are in what stage of our pipeline has created awareness, ownership, and freedom. We have created templates that match our visual maps, and we keep track of every individual task with checklists assigned to different team members—all In Karbon!
Now, every time we get a new client, we copy our template and checklists to those clients. No more details in my head! Everyone knows exactly what they are required to do, for every single process. Karbon does the work for us.
So, what’s next for you? Get those processes out of your head, onto a visual with checklists and into Karbon. It will transform your working lives too!
By Jessica Daley, Chief Operations Officer at Xcelerate Business Solutions—2016 runner up Firm of The Future.
Jessica started Xcelerate Business Solutions, an offsite accounting firm, when her family needed to raise $10,000 for an adoption. She soon found herself managing too many clients on her own, and began to hire dedicated stay-at-home moms to join her efforts. As a 2016 Firm of the Future Runner Up, you can find her enjoying the business one minute, and being present with her family the next.
The crowdsourced library of templates shares real standardized processes being used by real accounting firms around the world to hire staff, manage clients, and perform common tax accounting procedures. Explore the library and download templates here.