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"Finally there is clear plan and path for truly changing your firm from a group of individuals sharing overhead to a team of collaborators creating something larger than any individual. Sandra’s practical approach in the pages ahead will set your firm on the road to developing three distinct collaborative pillars of success; with your internal team, with peers and with clients and business partners."

L. Gary Boomer
October 2013

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Sandra Wiley

Sandra Wiley, is a shareholder and the Chief Operating Officer at Boomer Consulting. She is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 most influential people in accounting and as one of the 20 most powerful women in Accounting by CPA Practice Advisor. She is an expert in the area of Talent Development with a passion for Leadership Development, Training and Strategic Collaboration. She is also a popular author who is frequently published by many trade journals including CPA Practice Management Report, Accounting Today, Accounting Web, The CPA Practice Management Forum, The CPA Report of South Carolina, Lagniappe of Louisiana and The Asset of Missouri Societies.

Book Sandra for your next event. Call Boomer Consulting, Inc. at (785) 537-2358.





Getting Started! Develop Your Collaboration Committee

Collaboration will really take affect when you develop a team that will truly collaborate by developing a plan and actions that the firm will follow. As you establish the team, follow the following steps:

  1. Choose a diverse group
    • Partner
    • Manager
    • Staff
    • Administration
    • Technology
  2. Choose a cross section in the firm
    • Variety of Niches
    • Variety of Service Lines
    • Variety of Personality Types
    • Think diversity!
  3. Give them the book
  4. At the first meeting, ask them to develop specific objectives, goals and deadlines for their group. The more focused their objectives are, the more successful the outcome will be for the firm.
  5. Give them the freedom to meet and work on a regular basis.

The following tools will help them in their quest for collaboration.


Chapter 1: Is Your Firm Ready to Collaborate?

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This assessment should be used first by each person on the collaboration team. Complete the assessment individually and then talk through the results as a group. What area of the assessment is there the most diversity?

Chapter 2: The Team Collaboration Survey

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The team collaboration survey will help your collaboration committee "take the temperature” of the overall firm. The results will assist in determining how the group is feeling about internal collaboration today, and will assist in knowing what initiatives your team should work on as they move forward in their progress.

Chapter 3: The Stay Interview

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The survey you did in Chapter 2 is wonderful for a baseline foundation, but does not give you the deep knowledge needed to enact real change in the firm. The stay interview process will allow you to ask direct question to individuals or small groups in order to find deeper and more direct information that will lead you to collaborative initiatives.

Chapter 4: The Firm Leader Upward Evaluation

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As Chapter 4 states, the collaboration process starts at the top. This tool is the key to asking the team about how they see each of the leaders in the firm. There are 26 questions, and should strictly be used on the condition of anonymity. We are not trying to encourage secrets, but individuals are more likely to tell the absolute truth if they can do it behind closed doors.

Chapter 5: The Talent Blueprint

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Identifying the talents that each of your team members have and then applying those talents, skills and abilities to the appropriate teams, initiatives and duties is a departure from past thinking and imperative to future success. This tool will give you the blueprint to identify cognitive, conative and affective talents.

Chapter 6: The Client Collaboration Interview

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When the internal collaboration is strong, it is time to move to your client connection. There are times when it is difficult to know how to move the relationship to a higher level – a much more collaborative and deeper level. The questions that you will find in this tool will help you structure the conversation.

Chapter 7: The Competitor Strategy Action Plan

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Choosing a peer firm that compliments your expertise and then developing a relationship that is close and not competitive is tricky. It begins with identifying your real objectives and then finding the right connection.

Chapter 8: The Balanced Performance Approach

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The performance approach that many firms embark on is based primarily on financial metrics like billable hours. This tool will challenge you to think outside the box about what is being assessed in performance in your firm, and help you on your journey to move to a more balanced approach.

Chapter 9: Transforming Fear to Strength

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The most important strategy your firm can embark on is to maintain your confidence and leave fear in the past. Strength comes from confidence and confidence is a transformational attribute in collaboration. The tool for transformation will help move you down the path on your journey.

Chapter 10: Your Collaborative Employee Engagement Plan

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The secret weapon to true collaboration is employee engagement. As your committee moves through the process is to ensure that you continue building a team that is completely engaged and connected to the firm. This checklist will enable you to identify what is working best in the engagement of your team, and what you still need to focus on.

Chapter 11: Building Your Technology Plan

Download Chapter Tool: Sample Technology Plan

Download Chapter Tool: Sample Technology Budget

A technology plan is an extension of the firm’s overall strategic plan. Many firms have their technology expenses spread throughout their overall budget (peanut butter accounting) and they have no idea how much they are really spending. They also have a hard time being truly strategic, so developing a written technology plan and budget is strategically imperative.

Chapter 12: Your Collaboration Action Plan

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The time has come to pull it all together. Development of the plan for the year ahead is now on the committees’ radar. This form will help you pull it all together… and the work has just begun!