Blog
  |   [email protected]   |   +1 862 946 6565

Topics: Accounting, Tax outsourcing, Tax preparation, Tax season

10 minute read

Improving Peak Tax Season Productivity – 5 Great Tips for CPAs

Written By Indrajeet Pradhan

Tax season is the time when accounting firms in the US are at their busiest. CPAs are scrambling to get work done, battling stiff deadlines and generally have one eye on the clock and another on the computer. Even though CPAs and EAs get really busy during the tax season, they always end the tax season with a feeling that they could have done much better. This is a key reason why many are moving to tax preparation outsourcing for accounting firms to sort out their tax season productivity issues.

Productivity is an age old problem. Unfortunately, accounting firms have been fighting this problem with legacy solutions like ad-hoc/temporary hiring, working overtime, ad-hoc uninformed technology integration and so on and so forth.

But firms need to think beyond the traditional and think strategically if they are to improve productivity in a world beset with economic challenges.

Let’s put the importance of productivity in perspective. According to Accounting Today’s 2021 “Year Ahead” Survey:

24% of firms say their firm will grow by 4-5% in 2021 and a further 24% say they expect it to grow by 1-3%. These are not good estimates. If firms want to grow more in 2021, they must take the necessary and effective steps to grow productivity.

Let’s take a look at a few ways and means accounting firms can increase their productivity:

Source

1. Start Planning Before the Tax Season Kicks In

We are not blessed with foresight, so the next best thing is to go out there and ask some questions regarding the amount of work you hope to get in the tax season. How much work do you foresee coming your firm’s way, in the tax season? The answer to this question will help you plan better. But, drill down a bit on this question. Think, whether you are going to stick to existing clients for your business or hunt for more clients. You could even think of getting more work from your existing clients. Also, ask your clients whether there is a chance of them sending more tax preparation work your firm’s way, during the middle or towards the end of the tax season.

The information you get at this stage will tell you whether you have enough resources to handle all the work coming your way; and more importantly whether all the work you know is coming your way is enough. If it isn’t, you can set in motion a plan to acquire new clients and new work.

2. Focus on Process Improvement

As an accounting firm, you are selling your expertise, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have processes in place to deliver this expertise to your clients. Right from the time the client sends in their financial documents to the time you file their tax returns, there are a series of essential steps that are happening.

These steps make up the process. Much before the tax season kicks in, think very carefully whether your processes are holding your firm back or have optimal configuration.  A best practice here is to evaluate the amount of time each and every step takes and identify the problem therein. For e.g., if you have asked for the preliminary set of financial information from the client, does this happen at one go, or a piece meal basis? Do some clients have to be reminded multiple times to send in the information needed? Factor in this time while working out process efficiency and your deliverability goals.

3. Sort Out Your Staffing Challenges

There is a prolonged shortage of accounting talent in the industry. This means adequate staffing during the tax season is a pre-requisite to improving your productivity. But do you have a pool of accountants and tax preparers who you can choose from for the tax season alone? It’s important to remember that there will be other firms who will be thinking along the same lines. The talent pool is extremely limited and there is a demand and supply gap.

Source

31% of firms cite recruiting/retaining good employees as a major issue. It might turn into a major issue for you as well, so do you have a plan in place to avoid a resource crunch. You don’t want to end up in a situation wherein clients are willing to send in tax preparation work your way, but you don’t have the resources to take up this work. Firms typically use outsourced accountants to sort out their staffing challenges.  But, this shouldn’t be an ad-hoc solution. This brings us to the next point.

4. External Resourcing is an Answer

Outsourcing or external resourcing is one of the ways you can ensure your firm scales up rapidly and if needed, you can scale down your association as per your need.

Source

According to Deloitte, cost is the # 1 reason why businesses outsource. While this is a big benefit and outsourced accounting firms save a lot of money, CPA firms also need to looking at outsourcing from the scalability perspective.

Look for an outsourcing partner with focused expertise in US tax and accounting standards. Evaluate the skill sets and knowledge of their accountants and the engagement models they offer. Check whether their engagement models fit with your requirements and also ask for client references. Talk to their clients to gauge the quality of their services.

But that’s not the end of it. Make sure you have a very clear idea about the software they work with and their delivery-centre infrastructure. It needs to be right out of the top drawer and so should be their communications system. Also, make sure they have a BCP plan in place, which allows them to deliver work without disruption, irrespective of the emergency.

Accounting outsourcing India is very popular because you will find a lot of outsourcing service providers who will be able to handle your requirements. The key here is to do comprehensive market research to zero in on the services provider who perfectly meets your needs.

Something, that you shouldn’t forget to do in your quest to search for the right accounting outsourcing provider is look at the data security posture of the accounting outsourcing India services provider. Ideally for USA, you need to work with a SOC 2 Type II compliant company that has all the security protocols in place to maintain data security and privacy.

5. Customer Orientation Always

54% of buyers purchase bundled accounting services. So, they don’t work with a firm that offers only tax preparation, but prefer to work with a firm that offers bookkeeping services as well.

Source

You must adopt a strategic approach to scale your firm. Don’t scale your services because your competition is doing it, do it because the market is telling you to do so.  If you look at the above figure, you will see there are 41.6% of firms offering payroll services. What

happens if you belong to the percentage of firms that doesn’t offer payroll services, but there is a prospective client who wants a bundled package that includes tax preparation (your specialty) and payroll processing? You might lose that client.

If there are a few more clients who asking for a payroll bundled with tax prep, you will realize that you will need to add payroll services to your offering and scale accordingly. Scaling keeping customer demand in mind, will ensure it will deliver the results you are looking for.

This is informed scalability. This allows you to take decisions knowing there is a demand in the market for a particular service and therefore you must add more resources (more productivity) specializing in that particular service; or you know there is a substantial number of potential clients who are looking for a set of services that you don’t offer.

The decision you make will have a direct bearing on your productivity. Scalability and productivity should work together to deliver the ROI you are looking for.

Conclusion

The rapid increase in productivity is not possible unless you work with a firm that offers a service like tax preparation outsourcing for accounting firms. But, remember the move towards outsourcing should be tied to your scalability goals.

ABOUT Indrajeet Pradhan

My name is Indrajeet Pradhan and I am the Marketing Manager for QX Accounting Services – North America, and wordsmith behind the QXAS blog. Hope you enjoyed reading this piece. My job is to help accountants access the knowledge they seek through blogs, guides, and other content assets that are meaningful and actionable. More Posts(19)  

Originally published Mar 31, 2021 08:03:46, updated March 31 2021

Don't forget to share this post!

Related Topics

Keeping Accounting Firms Secure – 5 K...

24 Sep 2021

Cyber threats are evolving all the time, and so should the cybersecurity posture of your accounting ...

Read More  

Is this the time for CPAs to use outsour...

22 Sep 2021

Many CPAs adopted accounting outsourcing years ago, happily sending their high-volume, time-consumin...

Read More  

What is Outsourcing for Accounting Firms...

01 Sep 2021

Accounting firms offer a variety of services. Some like tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll ar...

Read More  

Why CPAs Must Outsource Tax Preparation ...

27 Aug 2021

In the recent past, we have seen an overwhelming rise in outsourcing services providers offering tax...

Read More  

Rethink Traditional Accounting Processes...

18 Aug 2021

COVID-19 has taken an enormous human toll and affected significant economic and financial markets fo...

Read More  

Stop Getting Overwhelmed in the Tax Seas...

12 Aug 2021

Success in a business can only be achieved by ensuring all its processes and verticals perform seaml...

Read More  

SUBSCRIBE TO THE ACCOUNTANT’S DEALBOOK

Get more accounting advice, thought-provoking pieces and expert opinions curated just for you, each month

Get the monthly QXAS newsletter with curated content just for you

x