It may feel that crossing the finish line of your industry’s busy season means you can finally take a breath, but as you decompress with your newfound flexibility, it’s also an opportunity to reflect back and identify where you can improve. Nearly all departments have a busy season whether it’s tax season for accounting, or open-enrollment for HR and insurance.
Several factors can contribute to the amount of work you had during the busy season, some of which may be completely out of your control. But it’s your task to identify what factors you can control and how you can mitigate the ones you can’t.
A Team Effort
When debriefing your busy season, you can’t do it alone. In order to identify real, actionable changes, everyone in your firm or department needs to be involved. This will likely take some preplanning and multiple meetings, but it’s a process that every office should go through in order to become a more efficient and cohesive team.
While meetings and discussions are essential, remember to go into the process with a goal of creating actionable changes to your processes.
“To make the debrief more than a complaint session, it is imperative that the firm not only identify opportunities for improvement, but that they act upon them as this will build trust with the staff,” according to the CPA Firm Management Association.
Seeking Feedback From Everyone
It’s vital to get an outside perspective on your office’s performance and that will mean seeking out feedback from nearly everyone involved in what you do. This means gathering feedback from clients, coworkers, and even colleagues from outside your work.
This can be done with a simple survey sent to everyone, or it can involve more in-depth interviews and discussions. It’s vital to ask the right questions to get the most useful feedback, and you may want to adjust them as you talk to more people, as they can lead you to the areas of improvement that are most apparent.
The best kind of questions to ask are open-ended, especially the ones that end with “why.”
- What was the most difficult part of this last busy season and why?
- What changes in the past that we implement have worked? What haven’t and why?
- Were we missing any useful tools that would have helped? How would they have helped?
Calculating Your Average Workflow and How to Trim It
Typically, you’ll find that one of the biggest challenges during a busy season is using your time effectively. While 60 hour work weeks aren’t uncommon, it can still feel like you can’t stretch it enough to get everything done before the wire.
It’s time to trim the fat off of your everyday processes, and the best way to do that is to turn to new technology. Automation technology has already changed the way we all work, but you can further utilize it to get the most out of your busy season and concentrate on real results.
When you work solely with digital documents, then filing, retrieving, and routing the right paperwork to the right people can help you further identify wasteful tasks that can be streamlined to be faster or eliminated completely.
A document management system with comprehensive automated workflow tools can give you visibility into all of your processes, allowing you to see which ones take the most time and what or who is holding them up.
Make Sure Your Goals Benefit The Client
Whatever changes you decide to make to your processes in anticipation of your next busy season, don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal of providing better service to your clients. Attracting brand new clients to your service is important, but retention of your current client base is essential for success.
During the rush season, it’s common to lose focus on the clients’ needs and put more focus toward your personal goals or the firm’s priorities. Losing focus on what clients specifically need to be delivered is an easy way to alienate them. Be sure to keep your clients’ goals in mind and how to best address them during your next busy season so you can deliver even more than they expect.