Efficiency in Audit and Accounting – a Shift in Mindset?

In his blog our CEO shares personal insights from a career in accounting and tech

 

Efficiency in audit and accounting isn’t as simple as it might seem.

I’m not sure I have ever spoken to a firm who believes their accounting business is fully optimised in the way it operates. But why is improvement not more of a focus for firm or department leadership? 

Some of the reasoning behind this may well be the traditional mindset of clients and firms. If the client views the audit and accounting services as a time purchase (particularly this visible time on site), or the firm heavily bases fees on time spent performing the engagement, and everyone is comfortable with this arrangement, what benefit is there in doing the work quicker? 

Why would it be worth the effort to change things? Particularly in a sector where staff overtime rarely results in additional staff costs. 

And above all this, more efficient work (particularly in services such as auditing) on the face of it could be misconstrued as lower-quality and cutting corners. No-one wants that… 

But some key trends are, in my view, demanding a fresh perspective on this: 

  • Talented people are so scarce that finding new hires to grow the team, or replace those who are leaving, is getting even harder, 
  • There is an ever-greater emphasis on the time invested in work vs personal life, and 
  • Even simple automation opportunities require standardized, efficient processes. 

Language is important here. When I speak with the firm leaders we work closely with, it’s rare we use the word efficiency. Sure, many of them use our software to save time, avoiding their teams being bogged down doing Excel data manipulation for hours on end, or performing annoying project management tasks. But the discussion is about capacity. 

Capacity being unlocked from lower value activities means the team can refocus time on something of greater impact. It might be on providing more valuable outputs or having more valuable discussions with clients. Or to be able to take a step back and be skeptical about the bigger issues and judgements. Or to invest time in innovation initiatives and learning the new skills they need 

Or simply not to be working 12+ hours day after day, thus having higher morale, sharper attention and an increased likelihood to stay with the firm… 

All too often there is a mindset, and sometimes pride, of being “too busy”. Improving processes and adopting technology to free capacity would take time we don’t have. But if doing nothing is the mindset then it’s near certain nothing will be done.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But doing something, even if just a review of core processes to identify a handful of easy quick wins, is making a step forward. This first step sets the tone and starts the journey. By engaging the team suddenly ideas start flowing as an innovation license has been granted. “We’re looking to change and welcome ideas”. And change starts happening naturally without feeling forced. 

How could you turn dated processes into team capacity to positively affect your team and your business?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Edmondson

Inflo President & CEO

mark.edmondson@inflosoftware.com

To see how you could unlock capacity in your audit team quickly, read our top tips for effective audit execution here.