Engaging with hundreds if not thousands of time-based professionals over a 20 year period we have seen how important planning is in everyday audit and accounting practices. More specifically – timekeeping!
The most frustrating thing about timekeeping is that it is regularly performed as an afterthought, month after month, making it most unlikely to rectify the work that has already been performed by staff members, especially with some bigger teams.
Keeping track of the staff and ultimately your Work In Progress (WIP) has always been a time-sensitive matter but ultimately probably one of the most important factors in any accounting practice. Especially when you consider having the correct level of a staff member doing the correct level of work for a client. Allocating a Partner or even a manager to do a task where a better-resourced staff member could be doing the work could save the firm hundreds if not thousands of billable hours.
So why don’t more firms spend more time allocating staff to the correct level of work?
1. Poor planning
It must be said that over the years it has been a difficult task to complete, and normally involves a partner to do the allocations. In some instances with bigger teams, it has fallen onto one person to do the staff allocations and the planning. This planning would still have to be signed off by a partner or in some cases a manager.
2. Manual processes
In the smaller firms, it is a big whiteboard with all employees listed to show who is doing what and when and for how long.
3. Poor visibility of forward cover
In many cases, employees don’t even have oversight on what they should be doing or what is on their plate for the following month or two. Some employees seldom get back to the office or are just told by their supervisor they will be doing something else or the scope has changed.
4. Inaccessible Tools
Some challenges firms face is the fact that the planning tools used are not transparent. Some firms even expressed their frustration about changes that need to happen on the fly and employees not being aware of the changes in planning being made. All this leads to frustrated Employees and frustrated Managers and ultimately frustrated Partners.
To increase morale and ultimately productivity a firm needs an accurate and easy to use staff planning tool that will integrate with their time and billing module. This planning tool should be completely transparent to the correct level of staff.Jean Pick, MD of GreatSoft
Doing it right – from the start!
From the start of a period or project, staff should be allocated according to the firm’s budget. The sight of the actual time spend against the allocated budget should be measured daily. Or even better a system should be automated that gives Managers and Partners the ability to receive that information daily. Knowing that a project is headed for an overrun could give a firm early warning to talk to the client and prepare a client for an overrun on the estimated budget. Trying to recover the fees after the fact proves to be almost impossible.
A proper planning tool is like a entire toolbox in your pocket
Being able to change anything on the planning tool should filter through to any of the staff members that are allocated to a project, and notification of changes should be automated.
Having a dashboard that you can easily change employees around and even dates and times would make it easy to collaborate with the rest of the team. Managing change and on the fly, changes could alleviate a lot of frustration amongst the Management team.
Quick and easy to implement and use
For many firms implementing a staff planning tool has always been a cumbersome process that never gets followed through after a couple of months. This has now fortunately changed with an integrated staff planning tool that no longer takes days to set up or even a technical person to operate. A transparent tool for all practices big or small that will improve productivity and ultimately profitability.
Now, read more of the GreatSoft Planning tool here >