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How Can Accounting Practices Leverage Process Consulting

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We spend a lot of time with Accountants and have many clients in this space. We provide them with offshore virtual staff and software bots to perform routine, mundane, and rules based tasks. Increasingly our accounting clients are also engaging us for accounting process consulting services, and we are happy to oblige. The big time consulting firms (including the Big 4 Accounting firms) have been leveraging and providing process consulting for decades.  Midsized accounting practices and individual and partner oriented CPA firms have not been utilizing process consulting to the same degree. However, every type and size of business can be improved through better process.

In this article we will cover challenges for accounting practices, what an accounting process consultant does, accounting benefits of process consulting, accounting process consulting services, and accounting process consulting outsourcing.

Challenges for Accounting Practices

Our accounting clients face many of the same challenges our customers in other industries face. Some however are specific to their sector, or more predominant in accounting. Having enough client facing time is one comment we hear frequently.  Optimizing and streamlining processes can often help with this. Like some of our other clients, changes in reporting, compliance, and regulations are also frequently noted. Like nearly every business sector these days our accounting clients report that hiring and retaining talent can be an issue. They also state that upskilling and ongoing training for existing staff can pose problems. Like other professional services clients we serve, accountants report billings growth, margin pressure, and cost containment challenges. Due to high workloads at specific times of the year, we also get reports of staff burnout and low morale. Accounting process consulting services is not a panacea for these challenges, … but it can help accounting firms get a grip on them and develop strategies to address them.

Additional Challenges for Accounting Practices

Societal and technology factors also can pose additional challenges for our accounting clients. The push for work from home (WFH) during and after COVID has made a lasting impact. Workflows and processes have needed to be adjusted and modified. Keeping up with new technologies is something we hear frequently as being a challenge as well. Leveraging automation and artificial intelligence has been something the largest firms have done for a while.  Now midsized and individual practices are wanting to take advantage of this, but don’t always know where to start.  Because of the sensitive nature of the client data they possess, cybersecurity is also a big time concern for accountants. Finally, we hear that well thought out project management and ongoing continuous improvement initiatives can be a challenge for our accounting clients. Because they are frequently buried at tax times and with quarterly reporting, then recovering from those periods, it can be a challenge to find the time to step back and be strategic.

What an Accounting Process Consultant Does

An accounting process consultant is unsurprisingly process driven. They will always seek to first assess, document, and recommend best practices and processes. Having a fresh perspective and getting policies, procedures, and processes documented are the first accounting benefits of process consulting which our clients site. When it comes to every aspect of a practice an accounting process consultant will provide “As Is” documentation. They can also help firms author SOPs, or standard operating procedures.  SOPs can be invaluable when bringing on new staff or getting back on track when things go awry. If a practice wants to implement change, “To Be” documentation can be provided and plans for implementation put into place. In nearly all instances , accounting process consulting services will first seek to map current process, then analyze and redesign them as needed. If a redesign is in order new processes will be tested, then communicated and implemented. Once implemented they will be monitored and optimized. Then the process will begin again, and continuous improvement can commence.

Accounting Benefits of Process Consulting

By now the accounting benefits of process consulting are probably apparent. However, comments we typically hear first about benefits are a) that it is fantastic to finally have documentation for processes and b) that clients can finally see the “forest through the trees”. Besides clarity and documentation, accounting benefits of process consulting includes having a solid foundation to define other processes and projects. Firms that have leveraged accounting process consulting services are more easily able to keep up with new technologies and to deploy them. For example, it is easier to leverage automation and artificial intelligence in day to day operations when starting from a position of clarity and focus. Challenges related to billings growth, margin pressure and cost containment are all easier to tackle. Issues like hiring and retaining talent plus proper project management and having more time for clients are easier to address as well.

Accounting Process Consulting Services

The largest firms have been benefiting from process consulting for a few decades. The biggest of those often offer it as in additional service to accounting. Many midsized firms have been left out, and nearly all small practices have. It does not need to be that way, however. Accounting process consulting outsourcing can benefit any sized firm. At Valenta we cater to SMB clients. Many of our clients are professional service providers like CPA practices. Our engagements are not large multi-year retainer ones. We typically work on specific projects, deliver an ROI for every project, and ensure that they are self-funding. While our first goal is to assess and document, it is very rare that we are not able to find projects and process improvement that fund any fee. Our local Managing Partners work with in-region expert Partners and Consultants, plus offshore Consultants coming from the Big 4 firms to deliver our services in this area.

Contact Us to Learn More

If you would like to learn more about Process Consulting, our Process Consulting Services web page is a great place to start. If you would like to discuss if accounting process consulting services can benefit your firm, please contact one of our local Managing Partners. They can also provide an overview of our services in the areas of Digital Transformation, Staff Augmentation, Digital Marketing, and Learning Platforms.