Quantifying Time Wastage And the Effect it Has on “Flow”
Imagine for a moment that you come into your office each morning and have everything you need. Clients responded to all of your requests for documents on a timely basis, and your team can simply sit down and complete the work – be it tax returns, month-end accounting work, a bookkeeping engagement, or Client Advisory service items. That would be amazing right? You could complete the task from start to finish and end with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. No time was wasted and you were able to fully immerse yourself in the project from start to finish. That feeling is called “Flow” and sadly, many practitioners don’t get the opportunity to get into a “Flow” state due to interruptions, missing documents, and distractions that take them off the task at hand. Quantifying Time Wasters
As working professionals, we all have the same goals: we need to recapture time, reduce anxiety, and do better work. When we are in a state of FLOW – these three goals align. We feel productive and fulfilled, and we are using our time wisely.
With Flow in mind, this article is designed to help practitioners understand the various ways their current systems are creating wasted time, anxiety and a lack of flow, and then present solutions to help address these issues.
The most efficient firms have found ways to capture back time by first identifying and quantifying the time-wasters, then addressing them with a technology + mindset solution that also creates Flow. The best part is that it is affordable, easy to roll out, and doesn’t require any change to your accounting, tax or practice management solutions.
Let’s first look at where your firm “leaks” time (aka the “Flow Busters”), and then we will present the solution.
Common Time Wasters (and Flow Busters)
When we speak with firm owners of all sizes, we hear common things as it pertains to wasted staff time. You may have additional things to add to the list as well. But they all center around having to stop and start a project multiple times, because the needed documents are not all readily at hand, or, you are having to piece together a client story using parts that are scattered across co-workers inboxes or different platforms.
Here are some of the common time-wasters:
- Chasing clients for documents you need
- Searching for client documents across multiple channels and platforms, including asking co-workers if they have it in their inbox
- Resending files/info to clients
- Assembly / Arts & Crafts (the client texted you pictures of documents and you need to make them into a useable PDF)
- Stitching the story together from multiple systems and accounts (or helping coworkers stitch the story together)
- Being CC’d and BCC’d on due to staff trying to keep you in the loop
- Providing tech support for clients who can’t log into the portal
- Distractions from looking in email, which move you onto a different project
All of the above lead to you getting pulled out of the FLOW. Flow is that state of mind in which a person becomes fully immersed in an activity and is when the highest level of productivity and satisfaction is achieved. The more interruptions, the less flow. The less flow a staff person feels, the more anxious they may feel. And of course, productivity is impacted as well.
Quantifying the Time Wasted, as it happens
As you move through the “Busier Season” and you feel the frustrations of these common time-wasters (and others), take note of how much time you spend dealing with them, by client.
For most firms the total wasted time will exceed 30 minutes per engagement.
• The math here is simple. If you have 50 clients, the firm wastes up to 25 hours of staff time just in getting the necessary documents into one place.
• If you have to spend time helping clients log in to the portal, or you have to recreate the link and re-send, then help them log in, that adds even more time.
Now take into account the effect these interruptions take on Flow for the staff.
By having to constantly revisit partially-complete projects, it is difficult to get into a state of Flow. It takes time to re-engage the brain and figure out where you left things the last time you picked up that project. So even more time is lost as the practitioner tries to get back into the swing of things for that project.
The Solution – Make it Easy for Clients and Everything FLOWS
There is an easy and affordable solution to create Flow in your firm, but it requires a technology + mindset shift.
At a high level, there are four main components:
• Clients need an EASY way to send and retrieve documents, wherever they are – whether on PC, mobile phone, or tablet.
• Staff need full visibility organized by Client, Contact and Subject/Task, in a system that is not based on email (dump the data silos, endless CC’s and Bcc’s, and hunting across multiple platforms).
• Staff should be able to send documents to clients securely without leaving the accounting or tax solution.
• And lastly, your system should do the reminding for you – client-facing tasks are set up by the team with due-dates, and gentle reminders automatically collect everything you need to get your job done.
If the four things listed above are true, then staff can then sit down and get into a state of FLOW because everything is at hand, with no interruptions. And everything literally just flows (no pun intended).
Client Experience 2.0™ Creates Flow for the Firm, And Delights Clients
Clients need EASY and firms that have moved to a Client Experience 2.0 model are reaping the benefits in terms of time savings, delighted clients, and relaxed and productive staff. Clients love using their mobile phone (or computer browser) to see your requests for documents and send them to you securely using a delightful app. Just like they can scan a picture of a check and deposit it to their bank using the banking app, you can give them an “accountant app” to help them securely send and receive documents using their mobile device, computer, or tablet. Imagine if their files were also easily available to them? And staff only have to look in one place for documents that clients have sent?
And what if staff could simply “print to pdf” right from the respective accounting or tax package they are using, and the client would receive that document seconds later, securely on their mobile device, computer, or tablet, to review?
How much time would you capture back if these things were true? How would your work life change? How much more time could your staff spend in a state of FLOW?
By using Liscio, LongwoodCPA was able to do 150 more tax returns in 2020 with no increase in staff, and no overtime. By using the right method to send and receive documents securely with her clients, and making it drop dead easy for them, her staff were able to work in a state of Flow. Read their case study here.
To see how Liscio can help you provide a world-class experience to your clients and bring a state of FLOW to your staff, book a personalized demo here.