As a firm owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate – you’re busy managing your team and taking care of your small business clients. It’s no wonder that your immediate to-do list often takes priority over planning for your long-term goals. Although it’s critical to deliver for your clients today, it’s equally important to look ahead and put processes in place that will benefit your firm tomorrow.
Standardizing your processes is one of the most effective ways to increase efficiency and profitability at your firm. When considering standardization, it may seem easier or more urgent to carry on with the way you are currently doing things (it takes time to document your workflows, after all!); however, the benefits of standardization make the upfront work well worth it.
To borrow the words of James Boomer, CEO of Boomer Consulting, firms that are not focused on standardization are “too busy bending over to pick up $1 bills to reach for the stack of $100 bills on the table.”
If you're looking for a nudge that will bump up process standardization on your to-do list, look no further. We’ve outlined three benefits of standardization (listed below!) that will help to increase efficiency and profitability at your firm.
More informed decision-making
Documenting your workflows will provide you with a better understanding of your firm’s capacity. As a result, you’ll be able to allocate resources more effectively, and make more informed business decisions.
Given that many tasks in accounting and bookkeeping are completed at a frequent pace and over a high volume of clients (i.e., collecting client documents, paying suppliers, completing weekly/monthly reconciliation, etc.), even small process changes from standardization can create major efficiency gains.
One of the best ways to experience these gains is by leveraging checklists as a form of standardization. Checklists break down processes into individual steps and indicate who is responsible for the task, as well as the timeframe in which the task should be completed.
When you use checklists (or other forms of documentation) to execute processes, your team is able to complete tasks more consistently over time, and you have greater insight into the resources (i.e., labor, time, technology, etc.) required to reach specific outcomes.
With an increased line of sight into your business, you will be able to make more informed decisions and drive toward a more efficient and profitable firm.
Greater organizational agility
Without workflow standardization, a limited number of people at your practice will be able to perform specific functions. The know-how required to complete key tasks is often siloed, or fragmentally passed along through emails, notes, or word-of-mouth.
By standardizing your processes (especially the redundant, administrative processes that often require less experience), people within your organization will be better equipped to perform tasks. Training and onboarding become simplified, and tasks can be delegated with confidence.
Standardization separates the knowledge required to complete a task from the individual, which allows your organization to reallocate work easily and adapt to the changing world around you.
For example, cloud accounting trends point to automation assisting with compliance work and administrative bookkeeping tasks. Standardizing your processes will allow you to assign lower-skilled employees to foundational tasks, and enable higher-skilled employees to become more agile and focus on services that add more value, like advisory.
This type of flexibility ensures efficiency, as well as enables you to better serve your clients.
Amazing client services
Lastly, and arguably most importantly, standardization results in amazing client services and happy clients.
Documented workflows reduce the likelihood that teams will make mistakes or miss steps when completing tasks. As a result, clients develop trust in your firm since they know they can expect the same high-quality end product, every time.
Standardization also sets advisor-client expectations. Your clients understand their role in your bookkeeping workflow (i.e., how and when to provide you with their financial documents), and what they can expect from you in return. When both parties agree upon expectations, you can work together more effectively and cultivate a stronger relationship.
Happy clients are hugely valuable to your firm – they are more likely to sign up for additional services, work with your firm for the long run, and provide referrals. Focusing on client retention is critical to business success, as the cost of retaining a client is much lower than the cost of acquiring a new one. Moreover, clients who continue to work with you year-after-year provide greater value, and therefore contribute to your firm’s profitability.
Standardizing your workflows may not be at the top of your to-do list, but it can help you reach your long-term goals. With standardized processes in place, you will be able to make better decisions for your business, respond to changes quicker, and provide even more amazing client experiences.
Start taking steps to work on your business (as opposed to in it) by prioritizing workflow standardization at your firm.
To learn how to standardize your bank reconciliation workflow, download our free guide: Weekly Reconciliation & Month-End Close Checklist
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