Practice barrier #4: maintaining visibility across your firm

Practice barrier #4: maintaining visibility across your firm

How well do you know what your team is working on? Do you know all of the small tasks that fill their day? Do you have an easy way to check when a client was last contacted? And exactly what was said?

A huge problem in accounting firms is the lack of visibility. Not only in relation to what people are working on at any given time, but also regarding communication with clients.

Even if you are part of a smaller team, if your firm is looking to grow and operate at its most efficient, you must have systems in place that will provide complete visibility over who is doing what when, and with who.

How does it impact you?

If your firm’s staff all work in silos you are probably left with many tough-to-answer questions—are we on track to meet our goals? Where are our bottlenecks occurring? Are all our clients being managed correctly?

You cannot have complete knowledge or know how your business is performing if you have no way of viewing everything happening across it.

To ensure all staff are aligned and working toward the same goal, everyone must be able to look at the big picture and understand everyone’s role within it. Transparent workplaces help employees understand the firm’s vision and see how their own efforts contribute toward the overall goals.

Your client relationships will also thrive. Everyone can be across all the clients that matter to them—not only the conversations they are directly included on—and the progress of any job, big and small.

Finally, visibility across your firm builds trust. Staff who have an understanding of what their managers do, and feel they are honest and open with them, are understandably much more likely to trust and be loyal to their employer. An outstanding workplace culture can be built upon this.

What can you do about it?

Reduce your emails
We spend a staggering 28% of our time at work sending, receiving, reading and answering emails—many of which feel unnecessary or frustrating.

Managing correspondence by email is a major challenge; managing a team via email is total chaos. It’s a tough ask to keep track of progress via isolated inboxes when a manager’s view is dictated by the verbal updates, CCs and FYIs given to them.

Make an effort to reduce the emails you send and receive by improving the email etiquette your firm practices. Or better still, look at using a team collaboration tool for any internal communication.

Email was designed to communicate one on one, like a letter or a phone call—so how do we justify using it as our primary source of team communication? A team of inboxes does not create a true team.

Eliminate your silos
If your firm hasn’t already, it’s time to consider a central information hub that streamlines historical search and access, making for more complete records. In the event of an inquiry from a client or scrutiny from management, you want to ensure that nobody loses a beat because of outdated processes.

Accounting teams require a system to capture and classify information easily; give total visibility across the team’s progress; easily spread, divide, assign and follow-up tasks; and allow your team to collaborate openly. Trying to do all this via email won’t cut it.

New digital management platforms give better business continuity, reduced discovery time, and offer the transformation of lots of separate conversation threads into a central one.

At the risk of beating our own drum, this is exactly what Karbon does—but we’re pretty proud of the way we do it.

Transparency is a two-way street
Once your silos are eliminated, every member of the team needs to adopt the new processes and stay on top of what they are required to. If you speak with a client on the phone, ensure you make a note of this in the appropriate way. If the status of a job changes, update it accordingly so everyone will know of a development.

These practices need to be followed from the top of your practice down. Partners and managers must drive this movement by being open and transparent with the rest of the firm. This will be the biggest contributing factor towards building trust amongst staff.

If you are struggling to grow your firm, we challenge you to implement at least one of these ideas. If you do, we’d love to hear the progress and result. You can also reach out so one of our advisors can help you out.

Also, if your firm has implemented any other strategies to maintain visibility,we’d love to hear from you.