Friday, August 31st, 2012

Do It Right The First Time

The very first thing that puzzled me when I began working in a CPA firm was the fact that all work was checked, proofed, reviewed (several times) and then finally went out the door.  Because of my education and work in other industries, I had always been taught, encouraged and expected to do my work right the first time.

I soon adapted to the extensive quality control steps inside the firm.  I watched others, at all levels, rely on others to catch their mistakes.  My typing (yes, on a typewriter back then) was proofed by a “proofer” and my goal soon became to have zero proofer comments.

Yesterday, I was having this conversation with a client and the traditional story came up.  Some of the CPAs were overworked. They were manager level people who did review work. The lament was, “we need more reviewers!”  Her comment and my thoughts were right on the same wave length….. if reviewers are overworked why don’t we focus on the preparers? Can’t we educate and train them to do a better job so that review is not so time-consuming?

How does it work at your firm?  Do people with 3, 4, 5 years of experience still get a lot of review notes? Firm leaders (more experienced people teaching younger, less experienced accountants) need to stress the importance of the pride that comes along with doing quality work. Help people understand the value of standing behind the work that they perform every day.

In accounting firms this can be done easily if standards are established (and most firms already have them) and the leaders set the example. When new hires see the partners enforcing the standards things get done more quickly and without fewer errors.

If the problem is with “the system” then fix it.


  • "It takes less time to do a thing right, than it does to explain why you did it wrong."
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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