Efficiency is the key to finding new clients and increasing profitability. Learn what your workflow needs to look like towards this end.

When did you last revisit your firm’s processes? If you leave things as they are for too long, you’ll notice more and more bottlenecks. 

How so?

Because your firm evolves over time. You get more clients whose demands change rapidly. And if your processes can’t keep up with these changes, you’ll get overwhelmed. As a result, it may take way too much time to serve your current clients.

This means that you have less time to find new ones; those A-grade clients that are the backbone of highly successful firms.

Luckily, there’s a lot that you can do to maximize your efficiency. By the proper management of your workflow, you can create plenty more opportunities to save time. And you can use the extra time to find the clients for whom you can do your best work.

Think of your workflow as a manufacturing process. The tighter your system, the more capacity you have to take on additional work.

So, what does it take to unlock these opportunities?

Here are the most important steps to follow:

1. Schedule Work in Advance

Do you know how long it takes to complete different accounting services? Obviously, there isn’t an exact number as projects can vary in duration according to the client’s specifications and needs. Still, you should at least have a rough estimate.

This will allow you to schedule your work in advance and have a clear overview of your time allocation. You can then manage your time much more efficiently. Better yet, you’ll be able to plan ahead and estimate the amount of time you’ll devote to each project.

To do this, it would be best to use a cloud-based calendar system. Make sure that all the key people have access to it so that everyone is on the same page. You can synchronize your processes and ensure that everyone knows what to do and when.

2. Identify Your Key Processes

Which processes add the most value to your clients? What’s their scope and how profitable are they? Which processes have the biggest impact on your profitability?

If you don’t have clear answers to the above questions, it’s time to take a close look at your firm’s processes. Prioritizing your processes in the order of importance gives you a chance to make the most significant changes.

How so?

Because it’s not uncommon for some of your key processes to also be the least efficient. Even if they drive the most profits, you still might not be using them to the full capacity. Tightening up these processes can boost your efficiency and ease your scaling efforts.

For example, our client Nate managed to impress his prospect with his firm’s processes during a GAP meeting. So much so that he was able to close a $31,000 deal for bookkeeping and CFO services on the spot.

This is what’s possible if you maximize the efficiency of your key processes. To begin with, list all of your key processes and sort them by their impact. You’ll then be able to focus on the most important processes.

3. Chart Your Current Processes

Before you can make any significant changes, you must have a clear overview of how things are working right now. And the best way to do it is to map out all of your processes. In doing so, you can create flowcharts that contain all the relevant information about your workflows.

Each flowchart should contain the following:

  • The number of staff members involved in a process
  • The frequency of client involvement
  • The activities involved in a process 
  • The resources that a process uses

Of course, the above are just some of the key pieces of information needed. With your flowcharts, you can identify the areas that have the most room for improvement.

4. Measure Each Process

You can’t improve upon anything unless you can track your progress. Before everything else, you’re going to need reference points. In other words, you need to measure the most important aspects of each process.

Among the most important metrics that you should keep track of are:

  • The duration of a project as a whole
  • The duration of each individual step in the project
  • The cost of completing the project in a timely manner
  • The reliability of the data you’ve gotten

This might not be the most exciting part of the process, but it’s needed before you move on to the next step, which happens to hold a significant impact.

5. Redesign Inefficient Processes

With all your processes and their duration clearly outlined in front of you, it’s time to see what about them that isn’t working as well as it should. In most cases, you’ll find at least a couple of things that you can work on.

When you break down a process, do you see any steps that might be expendable? Or maybe there are some that are too time or labor intensive?

If so, chart a program of changes that you can introduce to save time and resources. There might be some things that are redundant and others still that you could automate. Which brings us to the next point…

6. Leverage Modern Technologies

When increasing your workflow efficiency, technology can be your best friend. This is why you should check if there are contemporary solutions that can improve your processes.

For example, how do your team members collaborate? Is the communication seamless and without unnecessary delays?

Because there are many platforms that can make this happen. Not using them can result in communication bottlenecks that significantly slow you down.

Similarly, there are many platforms that can significantly reduce human errors. This gives you the confidence to keep going without having to look back all the time. All in all, it’s going to help you deliver high-quality services with much less effort.

According to PwC’s estimates, the global workforce could save up to $2 trillion if everybody fully embraced automation. Are you ready to take your cut out of that tidy figure?

Help People Do More in Less Time

7. Help People Do More in Less Time

Automation is only as efficient as your people. If your team members can’t get the most out of their time, no software will be able to make up for this.

This is why you must do your best to relieve your employees of mundane activities. Instead, they should focus their energy on processes that add the most value to your workflow as a whole.

The best way to increase your team’s efficiency is through training. High-quality training enables your people to develop the skills needed to become more efficient. They end up wasting less time in completing their tasks more effortlessly.

It’s important to remember that training doesn’t take immediate effects. It takes time for your employees to develop all the necessary skills. So, don’t worry if at first you feel like you’re not getting your time and money’s worth from training. 

As long as the training is consistent and packed with valuable advice, your team’s efficiency should improve over time. That’s when you’ll find the end result well worth the investment.

8. Run Regular Workflow Audits

Now that you’ve done everything you can to improve your processes, is that it?

Yes, but only for now.

As mentioned, your firm is going to go through changes. There will be more and more improvements that you can make to stay as efficient as possible

This is why you should audit your workflow from time to time. Check if the changes you’ve made are still fruitful and if there’s anything new that you can add.

Revisiting your workflow will require automation audits, new flowcharts, and all of the steps as outlined above. This will ensure that you’re always doing your best to free up as much time and resources as possible.

Conquer Inefficiencies

Finding A-grade clients will require some time and effort. Don’t compromise in this respect because of inefficiencies. As you can see, there are things that you can do to tighten up your processes for maximum productivity.

If you think that there’s nothing to improve on, you’re probably wrong. There’s always something to tweak if you’d just look hard enough. Map out your workflow for a start. Get all the relevant details for each of your activities and see what you can do to save time.

Don’t underestimate the power of even the slightest efficiency improvements. When you bring them together, they can amount to heaps of saved time and resources.

I’m running an online seminar next month of getting ready for tax season and workflow strategies will be covered in this, the invite is here.