Like all industries, accounting firms are feeling resourcing pressure associated with ‘The Great Resignation’ and, with tax season upon us, properly resourcing engagements will be more critical than ever to ensuring successful and profitable client engagements. In the long term, improving processes through the introduction of automation will be just as important. At our recent conference, Intapp Connect21, we sat down for a discussion with innovation leaders including Alan Atwell of RSM U.S. who noted, “we sell trust – and trust is not cheap, but the market says it needs to be cheaper and cheaper. How do we win the margin war there? I think that’s through automation.”
But it won’t just be the more notable service delivery processes that require automation. For example, although often an afterthought towards the end of the work week that may be filed away once your Finance team is done with them, there’s a great deal of potential lingering in the timesheets of your professionals and staff that can translate to very real and significant value for your clients, professionals, and firm when time is accurately tracked and captured. However, many firms rely on manual entry and default to time tracking software included with everyday tools and financial management systems, such as SAP and Workday. These apps — which function like spreadsheets with a few drop-down menus — often fall short in several ways. Because they’re based on manual entry and not built specifically for how accounting firms operate, they fall short when it comes to assessing the value of each engagement.
Time is the Secret Ingredient
Automating time capture and entry helps firms yield fewer errors and improved employee efficiency. Firms that utilize automated time capture often see a decrease in expenditures while simultaneously improving revenue because more accurate timekeeping means a better understanding of the true amount of effort required by each and every engagement. In turn, knowing the true effort of each engagement can directly impact future pricing decisions, employee allocation, and business development with current and future clients.
So we’ve established that gaining a deeper understanding of the true effort – and value – of an engagement is a primary benefit of automating time capture and entry. But how do we harness that data outside of individual timesheets? With AI-powered tools purpose-built to automate timekeeping for better resourcing and profitability analysis, firm management can use underlying system analytics to view next-level reporting and discover where the firm can be more efficient in managing engagements and executing deliverables to the client. These reports can offer visual representations and breakdowns by job types, clients, cost of delivery, splits of work, budgets versus actuals, and much more.
Automatically breaking down data into usable performance metrics helps you calculate a more accurate value of projects, which can lead to better pricing and resourcing decisions in the future. Accurate project-value estimation is a key element of client profitability and can’t be accomplished without understanding how professionals use their time in relation to engagements — one size does not fit all. In this regard, purpose-built timekeeping technology yields a clear benefit over generic tools.
Formulating More Accurate Pricing
Pricing engagements — by using a deeper knowledge of what similar types of engagements have historically cost — can boost the bottom line. Many firms continue to bill the same fixed fees year after year; automation can help you discover areas where you’re able to price things more accurately, and, hopefully, boost both your top and bottom line. Purpose-built solutions can provide those deeper insights into the time and effort, allowing firms to determine pricing and resourcing that is optimized for profitability.
Additionally, using AI-powered time tracking tools to understand the value of client business helps inform future business development activities. It lets you identify ways to expand your services and increase your engagements with existing and potential clients, allowing you to boost your revenue in new and efficient ways.
Better Data, Better Resourcing & Better Outcomes
Professionals are an accounting firm’s greatest asset, yet many firms work with an incomplete or even erroneous picture of how these valuable resources spend their time. This information deficit can lead to suboptimal staffing decisions and gaps in the data you need to properly evaluate, manage, and retain staff. Leakage can and does occur.
Automating the capture and entry of time data provides the opportunity to maximize your employees’ skill sets and better match them with your clients’ needs while also identifying staffing gaps that could prevent future growth. You can support greater employee focus, helping identify non-productive time and provide opportunities to retrain or refocus. And you can also identify sources of lost revenue and determine which additional services you can charge to clients.
To learn more about how automating timekeeping with technology purpose-built for the unique needs of accounting firms can help you deliver better resourced and more profitable engagements in the future, visit Intapp.com.
Intapp makes the connected firm possible. We provide cloud software solutions that address the unique operating challenges and regulatory requirements of the global professional and financial services industry. Our solutions help more than 1,950 of the world’s premier private capital, investment banking, legal, accounting, and consulting firms connect their most important assets: people, processes, and data. As part of a connected firm, professionals gain easy access to the information they need to win more business, increase investment returns, streamline deal and engagement execution, and strengthen risk management and compliance. For more information, visit Intapp.com.