Archive for September, 2014

Do online signatures remove the personal touch?

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Screen shot 2014-09-22 at 22.31.35

We regularly extol the virtues of signing online. After all, our cloud working docSAFE system incorporates it as a highly desirable, ‘must have’ feature. One of the reasons we shout loudly is the number of unnecessary meetings it cuts out.

Recently one of our clients brought us up short and said that signing online might negate the need for meetings but he prefers to see his clients face to face and use it as an excuse to get together (we suspect over a pint) and ‘do business’.

We considered this for a fraction of a second before defending the need to sign online. The point is that, for most accountants, online signatures come into their own at the busiest periods of the year – when you have tax returns mounting up and seconds on the clock counting down, conspiring against you. When you have an uphill battle to get everything signed and sealed, why wouldn’t you opt for the ability to get that all-important (sometimes elusive) signature virtually? docSAFE has a reminder system built in so clients are prompted when they don’t respond. It saves our accountant clients hours (and late penalty fines).

We agree that meetings are the life-blood of all professional relationships but sometimes (like texting your husband/wife when you’re going to be late), the digital alternative is much sweeter.

Firms need a regular IT systems review

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

gallery-1Think of it like a health check and don’t wait for something to go wrong before you assess your IT systems.

When I visit accountancy firms to help with practice development, it’s very common to find that IT provokes a whole host of issues. As I’m unravelling how everything works (or doesn’t), I point out that when we solve the issues, their improved systems will do much more than we initially set out to achieve. There is a ripple effect of a streamlined practice that filters out throughout the business. Efficiency can also knock clients sideways (in a good way) so it also does great things for your brand and reputation.

An IT review is always as individual as the firm but there are common areas we look at and popular subjects that are nearly always raised. I sit down with the partners and/or directors and we make a short list of some current issues which are dragging down the profitability of the firm.

Here is a typical snapshot:

  • Our hourly recovery rates are lower than we would want
  • We haven’t got a steady stream of business.  Clients come and go in waves
  • The quality of our new business isn’t high enough
  • Staff struggle with a certain percentage of clients who demand the most but pay the least
  • Clients repeatedly ask for duplicate copies of documents that they have forgotten to keep
  • We can’t get enough good staff at the right level

A thorough review of your procedures will highlight any gaps or shortcomings. There are so many products and approaches but we try and optimise your existing investment and top up where necessary. Sometimes it’s all there but there are connections to make and a quick training session that will make it all work in harmony. That’s the beauty of someone outside of the firm ‘looking in’. There’s always a solution!

The last point on our imaginary review list shows how the ripple effect works. Systems alone won’t attract the staff you need of course. However… a well run practice is a magnet to professionals. It also frees up time for existing staff to produce more. And, if you still need more staff, you should have more time and resources available to recruit if everything else in the firm is hassle-free.

Let me know if you’d like an initial free chat about how I work – I’d be pleased to come and see you and find out more about how we can increase the profitability and efficiency within your firm.






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