I am always amazed at the amount of the work we as a Chartered Accountants do. Sadly, most of the work gets done in the last 2 days of the due date.
I am in touch with CAs on a regular basis and all of them face similar challenges.
Almost all the CAs are firefighting on a day to day basis. Very few CAs finish all the returns one week before the due date.
In this blog post, I am going to share three strategies that you can implement today to increase productivity and reduce firefighting in your firm.
Have a system in place for assigning tasks to the staff.
I have noticed in many firms, CAs assign the tasks verbally and make a mental note of all the pending work in the company.
As your firm grows it will become more and more challenging. It’s a good practice to write incomplete tasks on paper or on some software.
This will ensure that you do not forget the pending work and also you can keep a track of it.
There are many task management software available and many CA Practice management software has Task Management feature in-built.
If you don’t want to invest in software, you can start with a normal spreadsheet or Google sheets (free).
Here is the sample of template you can use;
Make sure you list down all the tasks in one place.
How to write the tasks?
In the firms that have the system of assigning tasks through the software, I notice that tasks are generally written vaguely. This adds more confusion.
If you are assigning tasks to someone, ensure that the task is written properly and in detail.
Here are different ways people write the tasks:
File Rahul’s Return.
File Rahul’s IT returns.
File Rahul’s IT return for the AY 2019-20 by [deadline].
In the above example, you’ll notice the first 3 examples are vague or some information is missing.
The last action step was clear and it reduces to and fro communication between you and your staff. If your staff has some challenge or want to ask you anything, he can add a comment next to your action step.
This reduces a lot of internal communications and everyone is accountable.
Has this ever happened to you? You assign a task to your employee verbally and forget about it. You remember about it after a few weeks or after a few months. Your employee has also forgotten about it and the task is incomplete.
Why does this happen?
According to me, it happened because you relied on your memory and didn’t do the weekly review of all the tasks that are pending.
Do you want to exponentially increase your productivity in your firm, you should follow this:
Keep all the tasks on paper and review all the incomplete action steps weekly.
The habit of doing a weekly review is the game-changing habit and its benefits are numerous.
I recommend you to have weekly meetings on Monday morningwith all your staff. A weekly review shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes. During this meeting, you ask for the status of all the work pending and about the new learning and objections faced by your staff.
Have a weekly meeting even if you have less staff. Weekly meetings will help you with the happenings in the firm and in case of problems; solutions will also be given appropriately by all your team members depending on their experience and way of understanding.
Prepare a Dashboard for your firm.
Prepare a dashboard for your firm with all the important numbers. It will give you an overview of everything that goes on in your firm. Review this dashboard during your weekly review meeting.
To begin with, start with a simple dashboard. For e.g. for GST Returns, you can track: the number of returns to be filed in next quarter, returns already filed, and pending returns.
You can include other parameters as and when necessary.
Remember: You don’t need complicated dashboards or trackers on day 1.
I have implemented these strategies in various firms and I have noticed that the amount of internal communication has reduced drastically; the business owner is clear about what is going on in the company and where they need to focus on.
Implementing the above strategies won’t take much time. You just need to make a decision.
To increase your firm’s productivity, I recommend you to start with setting up a system when you assign the tasks through software or a spreadsheet.
Once this is done, you can start by implementing the other 2 strategies.
P.S. I am putting a detailed step by step guide to systematizing your business and stop firefighting. Just send me an email email@example.com
I will forward you the guide as soon as I finish it. A
Srinivas Vakati is a Chartered Accountant. He helps business owners systematize business processes and set up trackers and MIS so they can work on what is important and less time on firefighting. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org