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Can effective resource management benefit your accountancy firm?

27 Feb 2012

For accountancy firms, where skilled staff represent both their biggest cost and biggest source of revenue, effective resource management is critical to creating client value, enhancing profitability and maintaining a competitive edge. Clients want the best possible service at the lowest billable cost, while having all work completed before any deadlines.

As such, accountancy firms need complete visibility across their business. Work must be planned, resourced and executed in a way that allows a firm to find the right combination of team members and skill-sets. They also need to be able to look for clients safe in the knowledge that they have the headroom to deliver on what they have agreed.

Some firms may be running many resource planning spreadsheets serving different service lines, offices and regions, which means potentially business critical data is being stored in seperate silos. Without a consolidated database at a group level, senior management has no way to identify where resources are being under-utilised or where spare capacity may exist. This leaves the business vulnerable to spikes in demand if more work is won.

Accounting firms need to look at ways to efficiently manage the distribution of client matters amongst their professional staff. If they are able to match the right resource to the right job, firms can optimise resource utilisation and adjust allocations as and when required.

This can also empower staff with greater visibility, ensuring team members are more proactive in putting themselves forward for new undertakings. It also allows staff to better prepare for future work by seeing who else has put themselves forward and ‘buddying up’ with those that have already undertaken similar roles. Being able to use new projects to expand the capabilities of employees and enable them to grow as individuals not only means they can be charged out for more in the future, but that staff remain motivated because they have the opportunity to diversify.

By operating a much leaner operation with optimum staff utilisation, client expectations can be managed efficiently and delivered upon to agreed service levels, without being exceeded and thus impacting on profitability. At the same time, work that is in danger of going over-budget can be identified early on, allowing the firm to reallocate resources wherever necessary. This ensures that a high standard of client service is maintained.

In addition, the ability to mix and match skill-sets and experience allows accountancy firms to benefit from allocating the most cost-efficient resources to work, as well as providing opportunity to further the development of staff. In what in an increasingly competitive market, this is vital for ensuring the long-term sustainability of their business.

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