It’s an interesting question to ask yourself…
Does your accountancy practice run on people or on systems?
You see the most successful businesses in the world don’t run on people.
They run on systems, and then people run the systems.
And if your accountancy practice is run on people, then you leave yourself in a vulnerable position:
- What happens if these people leave?
- What happens if you try to scale?
If you’re looking to grow and scale your accountancy practice (or even not grow and just looking to improve overall efficiency and free up more time for yourself and your team) then you need to look at systemisation first.
Everything starts with systems.
They’re the foundations that underpin any business.
If you try to grow and scale too much without systemising properly first, then all you do is grow your problems and inefficiencies.
So how do you go about systemising your accountancy practice?
Here’s my 5-step process for systemising your practice ready for scaling up:
1. Start by making time
Waiting for a ‘quiet period’ that’s never going to come?
Unless you find time in your diaries to do this then it’s unlikely to happen.
Here’s the truth – there will never be a perfect time to do it.
So just do it now.
It’s a bit like going to the gym.
Most people with busy schedules don’t make time for the gym. And as a result, don’t enjoy the benefits of a being a healthier version of themselves.
But for the people who find time to go, they enjoy the benefits as a result.
The same goes for systemising your accountancy practice…
The faster you start, the faster you will reap the rewards from a more systemised and efficient business.
2. Identify biggest pain points/quickest wins
The chances are there are many parts of your accountancy practice that you could systemise better.
So instead of picking anything, focus your efforts initially on where your biggest pains are/where you can get the quickest wins.
For example, if cash flow is tight and you’re worried about cash coming in, focus on systemising your payment/debtors process and move all of your clients over to direct debit.
Or perhaps your turnaround time is sky-high, and clients are starting to complain as a result? Focus on mapping out your entire workflow process and identifying the areas where it can be improved.
I often find when working with practices that by systemising what is essentially low-hanging fruit e.g. how you quote clients, how they pay you and how the work gets completed as efficiently as possible can have a transformational effect on the practice.
3. Map out all other processes and build your blueprint
Once you’ve systemised the quick wins, it’s time to turn focus to systemising the rest of your accountancy practice.
Sit down with your team and map out every single service that you offer from start to finish and make sure that there are no gaps where either your clients or your team can fall through.
By the end of this you literally want to have a map for every single service and process that is crucial to the survival of your practice.
Think of it as if you were looking to franchise your practice…
If somebody was looking to set up a franchise of your accountancy practice tomorrow, do you have the blueprint to hand over to them on how to do it?
That’s the finished product you should be aiming for.
4. Review & challenge regularly
Most accountancy practices (and businesses) treat systemising as a one-off event.
They’ll create an operations manual for example and then leave it to one side, gathering dust never to be updated again.
Systemisation is an ongoing process and one that should be reviewed and challenged regularly by you and your team.
Ask yourself – is this system operating as efficiently as it possibly can?
And if it’s not, figure out how to make it more so.
Your team should be trained regularly on how the systems work, and also involved in the development of existing systems and the creation of new ones.
5. Leverage with technology and automation
Only once you have your systems and processes mapped out, and you’re happy that they are running as efficiently as possible should you start to leverage them with technology and automation.
Technology and automation are great, but unless you have carefully mapped out all of the steps and processes beforehand, it’ll only make things worse.
As Bill Gates famously said:
“Automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
Are you doing the heavy lifting?
If you find yourself working inefficiently and harder than you should be doing, then chances are you’re doing all the heavy lifting.
Good systems will do the heavy lifting for you and free up time for you and your team to focus on delivering even greater value to clients.
Systemising properly before planned growth is crucial if you want to scale your accountancy practice with as little difficulty as possible.
Find the time, and make it happen.
If you’re too busy to build systems, then you’ll always be too busy.