The area of Practice Excellence that most accounting firms ignore

What does it take to build the accounting firm of your dreams?

3 people are sitting at a desk covered in paper and laptops, while 1 person is standing up and writing on sticky notes on the wall.

What needs to happen for you to achieve your business goals? To find financial freedom? Time freedom? To build an autonomous and motivated team? To consistently serve your clients in meaningful and comprehensive ways? To grow the perfect accounting firm?

The answer isn’t simple. There’s no silver bullet. No one-size-fits all solution. But that doesn’t mean it’s not achievable.

Strive for Practice Excellence

This idea of a perfect firm—the one that is made up of a well-oiled machine that delivers exceptional client outcomes and is run by a firm owner that isn’t trapped in the day-to-day—can be achieved through Practice Excellence.

Practice Excellence focuses on four areas of business that are pivotal to running a successful accounting firm:

  • Strategy

  • Management

  • Efficiency

  • Growth

Each of these are broken down into accounting firm business competencies:

A circle split evenly into 4 (Practice Excellence Pillars), with 12 key Competencies of Practice Excellence shooting off the circle.

A firm excelling in these areas and competencies has high Practice Excellence.

Finding out your firm’s Practice Excellence score

Practice Excellence is calculated based on a quantitative, cross sectional study. A 20-minute online survey asking wide-ranging questions evaluates a firm’s proficiency in each of these areas. The data is then aggregated to determine a firm’s strengths and areas for improvement.

Take the Practice Excellence Assessment.

What does it take to achieve Practice Excellence?

Every two years, the Practice Excellence data is collated and produced into a comprehensive report that showcases trends within accounting firms across time, size, business tenure and geographical location.

This analysis highlights one key area leading firms—those with high Practice Excellence scores—are focusing on: Management.

Focus area: Management

The Management competency in relation to Practice Excellence grades a firm’s proficiency in:

  • Change management

  • Talent management

  • Organization management

  • Client management

According to the 2022 Practice Excellence Report, an increased focus on Management has the greatest effect on propelling firms as they accelerate into each phase of Practice Excellence:

  1. Traditional (bottom 25%) 

  2. Transitioning (25%-50%)

  3. Expansion (50%-75%)

  4. Leader (Top 25%)

This underscores the importance of strong leadership and management in a firm’s ability to successfully navigate change at key milestones in its lifecycle.

Leading accounting firms score 133% better in Management techniques than firms with below-average Practice Excellence scores.

2022 Practice Excellence Report

Low uptake of Management techniques, tools and strategies

From the 10 activities that have the strongest impact on Practice Excellence, 50% are related to Management. But usage behavior indicates that even though these activities are crucial for a firm’s success, they’re not widely used. For example, only 19% of accounting firms reported using the OKR goal setting framework.

This indicates a huge opportunity for accounting firms to boost their Practice Excellence scores—and their business proficiency—by leveraging accounting firm management techniques, tools and strategies.

Resources for enhancing your accounting firm’s Management

Below are a collection of resources designed to provide value in each of the Management competencies:

Change management

Talent management

Organization management

Client management

Maintain focus across all areas of Practice Excellence

Even though a focus on Management in your journey Practice Excellence is key, so too is your ability to avoid falling behind in Strategy, Growth and Efficiency.

Take the Practice Excellence Assessment or download the 2022 Practice Excellence Report to better-equip you to actualize your vision of your perfect accounting firm.