Despite practice management systems collecting extraordinary amounts of data on how we spend our days, what we’ve found from working with firms is that there is often little visibility both from a team member and management point of view on how a job is progressing to budget, or even what the pipeline and flow of work looks like for the coming period. Perhaps you can access some of that information, but rarely all.
That lack of visibility can cause some serious pains – it’s frustrating to end a job only to have to wear a large write off that could have been prevented had you spotted the bottleneck sooner, and there is nothing worse than finding team members sitting idly because the work has dried up.
Given most accounting practices (our affiliate firm included!) still use timesheets, if only for measuring costs, we recognised the need for greater visibility. We’ve been working with accounting practices recently to create View, an Excel-based platform that allows you to pull existing data out of your practice management system (MYOB AE, APS, Xero PM) to give you insights into how your business wants to work.
View pulls the data from your existing time tracking system, and turns it into simple, easy to interpret visuals you can use to manage clients and team members, for example client or team member based reports that compare the current status of the time cost recorded on selected jobs versus the budget applied.
The reports are customised to uncover the job specific details you and your team really want to see – not just what your Practice Management system shows you. One example of how View is being used in practice is in workflow reports that give team members the ability to – in an instant – see exactly how their current annual job was tracking to budget, across the different stages of that job. The reports allow you to see the progress made on specific jobs and identify issues before they occur – all within the excel framework your team are used to working in. The image below shows an example of what the report looks like.
Using the timesheets that were already being completed, the View dashboard has been set up to clearly show that this team member exceeded the budget for the first reviewing stage of this job. In fact, the job is already over budget before getting in to the finalisation steps. With this representation at the practice manager, client manager or team member’s finger tips, we have created a visual prompt to consider new ways of working to stem the bleed, or consider if we need to contact the client if they have a preconceived fee level.
You might be thinking the obvious – isn’t it too late because the job is already over budget? Not in this case, because such a reporting system can also be combined with automatic alert functions (eg email a manager when the job is at 70% of budget) that further enhance the benefit of tracking the milestones to budget, making it a seamless experience with automatic triggers via email.
Most practice management systems are great, but they force you to use the reports that they think you want to use. In reality they’re often missing the details practitioners are really after. That’s why we’ve designed View to be fully customisable – so you can design a system that works for you and your practice, not just the standard reports that might not be quite what you need.
For example – what if, without leaving excel, you could see the progress and status of every annual job, where the job is at – straight out of your PM system. With View you can also access firm level reports showing all active jobs that are currently in process – allowing us to accurately see how our team is tracking and avoid potential write-offs before they happen.
View doesn’t just paint the picture of what we’re currently working on, it also allows team members to forecast their workload into the future, with reports that visually display a team members pipeline of work – all based on data most PM systems are already capturing. Using View, if there is a dry patch coming up, we can empower our team to spot opportunities and turn that patchiness into productivity.
View doesn’t only make it easier to view and track important insights, our clients have seen improved productivity from their advisers and client managers as a direct result of being able to access those insights. The value of that added visibility to our firms? A recent client estimated that the visibility and automated alerts will save nearly $118,000 in billable capacity.
If you’re interested in how you could maximise existing data out within your practice management system to get the insights you want, not just the insights you’re given – get in touch with us and let’s chat about how View could give you a clearer picture of your practice.