Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category
Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
It just makes sense to me that the more efficient you are, the better service you can provide your clients. However, it is sometimes difficult for CPAs to get past the mindset that the faster you complete the engagement services the bigger the chance of doing something wrong.
Dustin Hostetler, the founder of Flowtivity and the lead consultant for Lean4CPAs by Flowtivity is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with extensive experience working inside a large regional CPA firm and has taken proven Lean techniques from the manufacturing floor and tailored them to bring value to public accounting firms. Hostetler thoroughly addresses the issue of delivering better client service in a recent blog post and I wanted to share his remarks with all of you.
He notes two misconceptions about process improvement initiatives:
# 1 – You can’t be more efficient without negatively impacting quality
#2 – By undertaking a process improvement initiative, we could negatively be impacting our client service.
He explains client satisfaction via three different customer services “curves.” They are, Basic, Performance and Delighter services.
Read more about it here.
We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon
Monday, July 21st, 2014
Sometimes in our work-a-day world we get stressed. Sometimes we get very tired. Sometimes we get annoyed by people. Sometimes we get disappointed, in ourselves and in others. Sometimes we get angry. Sometimes we get rushed. Sometimes we get our feelings hurt. Sometimes we feel unappreciated.
But, many times we feel happy. It can come from some of the littlest things…. someone shows appreciation, you receive recognition, someone says “thank-you,” you spend time with business colleagues who help you learn, someone smiles at you, your boss says, “good morning,” you get an email from an old friend…
Working with CPA firms I always recommend, IF you want to create a winning firm, one where young people will want to stay and build their careers and one where people feel joy in serving the clients, just remember that the little things can make the biggest difference.
A little thing happened to me last week. It came via social media. I tweeted about my participation in Advance 2014: The Accounting Career Summit and how pleased I was that on the agenda for the week I am listed right above Bruce Tulgan, author of It’s Okay To Be The Boss and Not Everyone Gets A Trophy and many more. You know how often I recommend these books to you! If you want a copy of my 2014 Read List (for CPAs and their teams) you can download it here.
Well, Bruce Tulgan replied to my tweet! Sometimes little things can make you very happy.
What are you doing for the people in your work life (and home life)?
Scheduling flexibility is the single greatest non-financial tool - and the number-one dream-job factor - at your disposal for winning battles in the talent wars. Use it.
Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
Many CPAs ask me, “How can we actually improve our culture?” or “How can we really make things better for our staff while still providing great client service and meeting government deadlines?”
Of course, tax season is one of the most challenging times. If you can make the work environment better during January thru April, you would be a firm where impressive, young talent would stay and build their careers.
That’s why I like a recent article by Gary Boomer in Accounting Today. Well, I like all of Boomer’s articles but this one caused me to reminisce about many of the things I worked on when I was working inside a busy, growing firm.
Boomer talks about the “after tax season review,” assessing what went right and what went wrong. We did it faithfully every April and compiled a list of things to change, improve or tweak. The secret? We made sure that we did actually implement…. we changed, improved and tweaked continually. It was part of our culture.
Here’s Boomer’s 10 Way You Can Make Next Tax Season Better:
- Schedule client appointments in advance.
- Scan and organize client data into a digital file.
- Utilize a digital workflow system.
- Implement one-way workflow and avoid loops. You do not have to send work back for training purposes.
- Review returns on a timely basis.
- Grade preparers on each return to drive out errors at the lowest cost.
- Bill and collect with the return.
- Reduce cycle time to increase profits.
- Utilize portals for aggregation of client data and the delivery of returns.
- Utilize a technology surcharge to achieve a return on your IT investment.
How many of the 10 are you doing? Read the entire article here.
Providing the right services to the right clients is very important.
Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
I keep urging CPAs and their team members to sign-up for a Twitter account. Yet, I still find that many people in the CPA profession are not using Twitter.
Here’s my suggestion for getting started:
- Establish an account.
- Be very selective as to who you follow.
- Be sure those you follow offer something of value.
- Follow just a few, especially at first.
- You don’t have to “tweet” anything, just read what others tweet, at least for a while.
I use Twitter (@cpamanagement) to keep me current. I follow some news feeds (CNN, NPR), some CPA profession experts, leadership experts, a few CPAs who actually tweet, Fast Company, etc. You can visit my Twitter page and see who I am following. I also don’t hesitate to switch some out and back in, experimenting to see who gives me the most value and staying within a manageable number.
A couple times a day, I quickly scroll through my twitter feeds on my iPhone and see the national/world news, current business trends (Fast Company), and what’s going on in the CPA profession.
There are a lot of people out there saying a lot of things on Twitter and via other social media. Most of it is just noise. Follow those who give you value – for your CPA firm and for your life. Ignore the noise.
Nowadays most men lead lives of noisy desperation.
Friday, June 6th, 2014
Terry Putney and Joel Sinkin of Transition Advisors have been writing a series of articles for the Journal of Accountancy over the last 12 months. It has been a year-long look at issues affecting succession for CPA firms.
The most recent issue of the Journal is out and Putney and Sinkin have focused their last article on the Do’s and Don’ts of Due Diligence.
I relate to how they describe due diligence as beginning when you first meet a potential M&A candidate and it every step along the way. You are continually assessing whether a combination of firms would meet your goals and expectations.
However, there is a more specific, intensive review of firm data that we usually think of when we hear the words: due diligence.
The authors tell us that the first step, as you start formal due diligence, is to exchange lists of what each side wants to see. To manage time and priorities, break the review down into three categories:
- Things that are readily available and can easily be delivered, for instance, by email. Examples are financial statements, tax returns, employee handbooks, leases, and employment agreements.
- Things that might require some effort pulling together, such as accounts receivable, breakdowns of client information (fees, industries, tenure), and operating metrics on productivity.
- Information that can be gathered only in the field, such as a review of workpaper files and quality-control processes, inspections of office and equipment, and interviews of key people.
Be sure to follow the link, above, and read the entire article in the Journal. The link to the article will also give you links to the other eleven articles in the series.
(Terry Putney, is that you with Rita?)
What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.
Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
I do a lot of educational sessions for the CPA profession.
An on-going challenge is the male-female differences. Differences in the way they think, work, and communicate.
I highly recommend a book by Gail Evans titled, “Play Like A Man, Win Like A Woman.” Buy a copy for every female in your firm.
Yesterday, on NPR, I saw a video recorded at a baseball game that demonstrates how a future man (a boy) demonstrates the difference. He catches a ball and then fools the women!
Quite clever. Quite disturbing in some ways. Maybe he didn’t even plan it. Who knows?
I know that the boys in my neighborhood when I was a kid pulled off “tricks” like this on a regular basis and thought it was hilarious. You know what they say, “Boys will be boys.”
Here’s the link to the video.
When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream.
Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
Have you read the book Into The Wild?
If you follow this blog, you know that I am an avid reader. I often tell my clients, “I read so you don’t have to read so much.” I read to keep current on business trends, especially trends in the CPA profession. However, sometimes reading various novels for enjoyment brings me some rewarding thoughts. The following quote comes from the book I mentioned above.
The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
It made me think about many people working in the CPA profession who avoid change. They dread it, maybe even fear it. They are way too comfortable with status quo. They are thinking, “Life is good, why change?”
I have always felt that working in public accounting was naturally “an endlessly changing horizon”. I find joy in that. How about you?
I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.
Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
I continue to blog a lot about the value and importance of reading. I ask you, well I actually plead with you, to continually read – not just CPA stuff – all kinds of books, publications, newsletters, articles, blogs and even Facebook pages.
Reading and then using what you have read as reference when you are faced with a future challenge, problem or “situation” can be one of your best time investments.
I’m glad you are reading this blog! Hopefully, you browse the categories and seek out information that may be helpful. I want to also thank all of you who actually open my newsletter and read one or more of the articles.
Remember…. if you want to succeed, you need to read. Here’s a message from Jeffrey Gitomer about the importance of reading.
If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
Friday, March 14th, 2014
I practice what I preach, at least when it comes to reading. I continually urge CPA firm citizens to read, read, read.
That’s why I want to feature a recent tweet from Tom Peters:
READ. READ. READ. STUDY. STUDY. STUDY … until you are blue in the face. (Age 18. Age 38. Age 58. Age 78.)
Of course, if you are a CPA, you must do a great amount of technical reading but please don’t limit your reading to technical topics. Read blogs, news article and fiction. Read this blog post from Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz on The Value of Reading Novels. I often get great ideas for my consulting activities when I am reading a novel.
For more on reading, on the right side of this blog page, select the category Reading and you can quickly read some blog posts that might inspire you to read more.
I often share a copy of my reading recommendations. You can download my 2014 Reading List here.
We read to know that we are not alone.
C. S. Lewis
Monday, February 17th, 2014
CPA firm partners, owners, and other firm leaders hear it over and over again from speakers and authors focused on the profession of public accounting.
Think big picture. Be a visionary. Stay out of the day-to-day, be more strategic.
I, too, have written about it and talked about it. I do believe there is a time and place for contemplating the bigger picture.
However, much of what you do is about the here and now. If you are honest, most of what you do inside your firm and to help clients is about the here and now. And, it is important.
I was reminded of this when I heard a passage in a Wallander episode. I have also read all of the Wallander novels by Henning Mankell. If you are not familiar… Wallander is a brooding, dark character. A Swedish detective who investigates violent and terrifying murders. Kenneth Branagh is amazing in the role.
Here’s the passage:
“I don’t really think there is a bigger picture. This is where we live, here and now. These are our lives. They are fragile and precarious…. and miraculous. They are all we have.”
The majority of you and the people who work for you are living in the here and now.
Think about the big picture, the future but please don’t forget that the majority of life is in the here and now. How can you make life, the here and now, better for yourself and for all the people in your firm who depend on you. After all, life is all you have.
It's only when we can work with something that brings out our strengths that we're of any real use.
Henning Mankell, author The Fifth Woman