Wow, where has this year gone?
Christmas is just around the corner…
But for most accountancy practices, the festive period means only one thing…
The self-assessment deadline is looming.
Let’s face it – January for accountants isn’t much fun.
Temperatures plummet, when we leave for work it’s dark, and when we return home from work it’s dark again.
The last thing we want to be doing is working late nights, grinding away at a mountain of tax returns, chasing clients for information right up till midnight on the 31st.
Wouldn’t it be great if January was spent relaxing, knowing that your team are on top of things, and your clients have been taken care of? (This is the reality for several on-the-ball accountancy practices. In fact, one of my clients spends the entire month of January in Spain!)
With that in mind, here are 6 proven tactics to help you and your team power through self-assessment season:
1. Choose Dedicated ‘Chasers’
The number one bottleneck when it comes to completing tax returns is not having all of the information in from clients.
And the number one mistake most practice owners make is trying to do the chasing themselves (in between completing tax returns) or having their production team do it as well.
By choosing dedicated chasers (ideally these aren’t the same people that are completing the tax returns) you can have people consistently chasing your clients for the missing information – whilst keeping the production of tax returns at the same level.
2. Set Daily/Weekly Targets
How do you know if you’re on track if you don’t set targets and keep track of what’s been done?
Breaking down your total number of outstanding tax returns into daily and weekly targets will help you and your team stay focused, and make the workload seem much more manageable.
It will also identify whether you’re on track, or whether you need to ramp it up a gear.
3. Use An Office Whiteboard For Accountability
Once you’ve set your daily/weekly targets, you want to make them public and hold your team accountable.
At the beginning of each week have somebody update the board with your weekly and daily targets.
Then at the end of each day (or start of next) have somebody update the board with the actual numbers so you can see the difference.
For extra accountability try splitting your team into smaller teams and have them compete against each other.
4. Daily Huddles
At the start of each day, at a specific time, hold a 5-10 minute stand up meeting.
The purpose of the meeting is to
- Check you met yesterday’s target,
- Check you’re on track to meet your weekly targets,
- Identify any potential bottlenecks you should be aware of, and
- Make sure your team are clear on their targets/goals for the day.
5. Incentivise Team
There’s no doubt that your team will be working hard throughout this period.
Incentivise their performance based on whether or not they are meeting daily/weekly targets.
Offer food and drinks vouchers for the whole team based on whether weekly targets are met, or offer a small financial bonus if all tax returns are done by a specific date.
Using this in combination with the office whiteboard will supercharge your team’s productivity.
6. Learn From Your Insights
An important thing to do throughout this process is to take note of your biggest insights, lessons and learnings.
What worked well? What didn’t work so well? What improvements can we make next time round? By taking note of all these things you will find yourself better prepared for next year’s deadline.
Do you have any other tactics or tips for powering through self-assessment season? I’d love to know what’s working for you now in helping you and your team to power through.