Looking Ahead: Strategic Planning For Accounting Firms

The pandemic didn’t change the goal of strategic planning, which is simply setting a firm’s overarching direction and priorities; it helped redirect their focus. For many firms, this redirection revealed new and more effective processes for strategic thinking. Here, we take a look at what those are. (We’ll also be discussing this topic in even greater detail at our webinar: Practical Steps For Growing Your Firm in 2022, Tuesday 17th May, 2pm)

The biggest shift that we saw in firms was a more digital approach due to Covid-19. Although firms have been talking about digital transformation for a while, the pandemic accelerated it. However, in 2022, digital isn’t the only focus – practices are exploring a more holistic view of business, understanding how to synergize the various areas of the business for growth.

With a clear focus on what you want to achieve and how, and by setting small goals towards fulfilling your company’s strategy for 2022, you will see significant growth. This is where strategy and goals differ – strategy is about objectives and how you plan to reach them, whereas your goal is a desired outcome.

4 Key Areas of Strategic Improvement

Using a holistic approach allows you to assess your firm’s overall performance. This includes looking into four key areas that help redefine your strategy for the year while keeping in mind important questions, such as the ones below, throughout the process.

Growth and Acquisition

Growing your client base is all about building and maintaining positive relationships throughout the year. Ask yourself: am I requesting and analyzing client feedback using the right tools? Am I acting on the feedback I’ve received, which can ultimately set me up for success? This would include sending out short surveys or calling clients for the feedback you need. 

Staff Culture

Identifying areas where you can increase employee engagement and any improvement plans will impact your firm in positive ways. Consider increasing engagement with your employees to understand how you can make their work lives healthier, happier and more productive. Are there any tools they need in order to work smarter, and not harder?            

Tech Stack

Assessing your firm’s use of technology is imperative to driving your efficiency at a higher rate. What tools are you using to perform better and more competitively? What else can be automated to improve efficiency and save time? A good tech stack review helps assess whether you are using the right tools for your client, as well as allowing you to recommend the best software for them.

Business Development

Understanding your firm’s business and tech-model ultimately helps you stay in tune with the markets you service and helps you grow your competitive advantage. For example, reviewing the tech-model you currently have should have you question whether or not your clients are tech-savvy. Or if there is a new tool that will help you grow your client-base. 

It’s crucial to nurture your current clients as it’s cost effective and provides a strong sense of credibility. A way of retaining existing clients is by adding new service offerings that will bring them value and help increase your firm’s revenue – good for you, good for them. By understanding who your most profitable and loyal clients are, you can strategically focus on new product lines and new business based on their strengths.

What’s In A Target?

With any given goal or target, there has to be specific criteria that needs to be met. The SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time) rule works to help you refine your strategy to meet its objectives in the long-run. 

How would you go about increasing efficiency in your firm? An example is the implementation of new auditing software in order to expedite internal auditing processes. You would then have to set a date for when you will get the software and identify how this will save you time.

Measuring Success

Below are a few key ways to measuring success for your firm: 

  • Set them annually and quarterly
  • Don’t have too many objectives – keep it to three strong ones per quarter
  • Make your objectives challenging and strive to hit 80% of your targets 
  • A key result must have a number – this allows you to see if you are hitting your target or not

It is recommended to have no more than four KPI’s in each business area – overloading your employees with a lot of KPIs will not turn out to work in your favour. Measures should include the latest data which helps identify any problems you may have early on. Consider using tools that help gather data in an efficient manner that can help you get there faster. 

Review Your Plan

Maintaining a clear watch on your firm’s performance should be undertaken regularly to ensure that you’re on track with your goals and overall strategy.

For strategic review, these areas are worth looking into: marketing performance, sales revenue, products and/or services, technical and operational performance, processes and workflows. Lastly, take a look at your organization’s structure and the people that make up your workforce to determine if any structural changes need to be made. 

Looking Ahead

There are so many ways in which you can manage your firm’s current landscape to make it the most successful year your firm has seen. 

Check out our webinar coming up with Carla Caldwell, CEO of Caldwell Consulting & Training, who will explore practical steps to growing your firm.

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