In a growing accounting firm, busy season can be a stressful time. While acquiring new clients should be good news, what if you don’t have the capacity to cope with the increased workload? Should you hire additional resources or are there other ways to stay on top of demand without compromising service quality?
In any accounting firm, building a strong team will enhance business value once the timing is managed appropriately. However, hiring ahead of the busy season to fix a short term capacity issue may not be your best option. Indeed, in the current market where a skills shortage could mean having to compete for talent with larger firms, finding the right person for your team might be time-consuming and expensive. Even if you do manage to hire, there is a risk that you may not have sufficient work to keep your new resource fully occupied once the busy season is over. This is particularly true in times of general economic uncertainty. For that reason, before deciding to hire, it’s important to look at other options.
Prioritise urgent work
As a stop gap measure, you might decide to prioritise your most urgent client work. While this can be a pragmatic way to deal with capacity issues in the short-term, it risks creating a backlog of other work-in-progress which, in turn, can have detrimental impact on your cash flow.
Focus on higher value work
Freeing up existing staff resources so that they can focus on higher value work can be a good way to increase capacity. Options to look at in this regard include:
- Technology. Encouraging your clients to adopt cloud-based accounting solutions will streamline basic bookkeeping tasks. For many clients, having 24/7 access to realtime financial data about their business means they can make better business decisions. These cloud-based solutions also free your tasks from many mundane tasks which means they can focus on adding value in other areas. Time tracking solutions can help you identify your own most valuable work and eliminate time-wasting activities. In my own business, MyHours has helped improve our overall efficiency.
- Website. Your website can provide certain self-service utilities for clients as well as providing answers to frequently asked questions. This will cut down on time lost answering phones and replying to emails.
- Outsourcing. Collaboration is becoming increasingly important for many businesses today. For a busy accounting firm, collaborating with an accounting back office service provider like GroForth can be a good way to build capacity without incurring recruitment costs. Areas that may be suitable for outsourcing range from basic bookkeeping, payroll, management accounting, IT and HR support to more strategic analysis and reporting services.
The last quarter of the year is traditionally a hectic time for accounting firms. If you find yourself facing capacity issues in the coming weeks, and need a hand, GroForth would be delighted to help. Contact us for details of our specialist support services for accounting firms. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring our office on +353 1 905 9436.