Improve your business processes


So you want to grow your accounting firm? First, you need efficient and repeatable processes that will allow you to scale your business. Here’s how to build better processes across your firm in five simple steps.

Every business relies on the strength of its processes so it can run as efficiently as possible. And if you want to build scale, it helps to make your processes as simple and repeatable as you can.

From your sales and marketing activities to your back-end mechanisms right through to ongoing support for clients, your processes are all interconnected. So if one of them is lagging, it can end up clogging the entire pipeline.

That’s why it’s so important to continually review your firm’s processes and find ways to improve them. Here’s how.

Step 1. Identify opportunities

Before you can drive change within your business, you have to work out where to focus your time and energy and which actions to prioritise. As the first step, you need to clearly understand what your processes are and how they fit together.

Start by asking yourself which ones are the core processes you use to serve your clients or generate revenue. Of those, which ones are working well and which ones frustrate you?

By identifying the processes that add the most value to your business, you can dedicate resources towards making improvements where they’re needed most.

Step 2. Engage your team

Introducing any type of change into your business has to be a team effort. For a new process to be implemented successfully and consistently across the business, you need to get all your staff on board. That’s why it’s a good idea to engage your team from the outset.

Get individual team members to track the time it takes them to carry out different processes. This will allow you to see how long each process is taking and which ones aren’t as efficient as they should be.

Ask your staff which processes they think should be improved, which will help to highlight where the key opportunities lie. And finally, as a group, you should also agree on what success looks like, and how you’ll measure it.

Step 3. Map it out

For each process, do a walk-through from start to finish and look at how each step contributes to the overall result. There are all sorts of ways to do this, so find one that works for your team – whether it’s drawing a flowchart on a whiteboard or taking notes while someone else goes through each step.

When you’re mapping out a process, also note if the steps vary for different staff or clients. This will help indicate if there are faster or simpler ways to get from A to B. Once you uncover these efficiencies, you can start thinking innovatively about how to streamline the process for everyone involved.

Step 4. Test and learn

Whether you’re fine-tuning an existing process or building a new one, experimentation is key – so it’s worth taking the time to test each process and gauge the outcomes. Good processes should help make life easier for your clients as well as your staff, so ask your clients if they’ve noticed an improvement, or if they feel they’re getting better value or customer service.

At the testing stage, it’s also important to remember that a process should never be too rigid. Not all cases or clients are the same, so you need to incorporate a level of flexibility that allows staff to customise or adapt the process in certain circumstances.

Step 5. Keep a record

Because you want your processes to be repeatable and consistent across the business, it’s important to document each one thoroughly. Keep all your process documents in one place – preferably online – where every team member can access them.

Make sure your processes are documented in a straightforward step-by-step format. You may also want to add simple checklists, which can go a long way towards helping new team members get the hang of their roles. Each item on the checklist should contain a single action, as well as specifying the owner of the task and a timeframe.

Remember, the better documented your processes are, the easier it will be to refine or adjust them in future. So as your build scale within your firm, your processes will be able to evolve with as little disruption to the business as possible. This means you’ll be ready and able to make the most of growth opportunities as they arise.