Power High-Quality Engagements With Accounting Practice Intelligence
By Mike Martin
Keeping track of multiple engagements can be a significant challenge for accounting practice partners and senior managers. Every engagement has multiple stages, many documents that require reviews and sign-offs and deadlines that can’t be missed.
To keep your practice healthy and profitable, you need to make sure each engagement has the correct number of staff working on it, that no important deliverables are overlooked, and that the overall quality of your work meets not only regulatory requirements, but also your clients’ expectations.
Many accounting practices track their engagement workflow with spreadsheets or other manual reports. They also rely on emails to team members, face-to-face check-ins and status meetings.
However, none of these methods is ideal. They all consume valuable time and effort. And manual reports and check-ins don’t give you an up-to-date view of all your engagements, the visibility you need to make sure all your engagements are on track, or confidence in your accuracy due to limited visibility.
“Having insufficient data leads to difficulties in managing risk,” says Ron Lau, product manager with Caseware. “There’s limited visibility into engagement progress, there’s a lack of process improvements, and overall it just leads to poor decision-making.”
Managing risk effectively is critical for any accounting practice. If you don’t, it can result in poor-quality work that leads to non-compliance with regulations, incorrect audit opinions, or poor advice to clients. And limited visibility into your engagements means you won’t be able to pinpoint engagements that need additional staff or attention to prevent an increased risk of material misstatements.
It’s no surprise that Caseware’s 2022 State of Accounting Firms Trends Report, which surveyed more than 3,000 accounting professionals from around the world, found 55 percent of respondents wanted more visibility into their staff members’ workloads and just 35 percent said they enjoyed full visibility into staff activities.
Similarly, 53 percent felt they had some, but not enough, visibility into engagement workflows, with just more than one-third saying they had full visibility.
Track accounting projects at a glance
Accounting practice intelligence solutions are designed specifically for accountants to deliver the visibility and insights you need to boost your project and practice management. They’re built to collect all your engagement information, both current and historic, letting you better manage your risks and your practice.
A practice intelligence solution gives you access to an intuitive, streamlined interface that allows you to see all your key engagement information at a glance. Some details that a practice intelligence dashboard can display include:
- total number of engagements
- level of adherence to proper workflow processes
- document tracking to ensure reviews happen in a timely manner
- files with overdue deliverables, or deliverables that are due soon
- who is responsible for deliverables, to ensure nothing is missed
- sign-off status of documents
- lockdown status of engagements
Drilling down into any specific area to get more detailed information is only a mouse click away. For example, you could explore a specific client engagement to verify if the prerequisite work, such as the engagement letter, planning and pre-audit meeting, has been completed and signed off before fieldwork begins.
Spend more time growing your accounting practice
Managing your projects and practice through an accounting practice intelligence dashboard saves you from having to chase staff for the status of your engagements, leaving you more time to focus on better managing your practice, improving internal processes and accelerating growth.
“You might find deliverable deadlines are consistently being missed,” Lau says, “but you don’t have a way to pinpoint the source of those issues and prevent them from reoccurring. A practice intelligence solution can help you with that.”
Such technology can boost your staff’s efficiency and effectiveness by showing you who is working on particular engagements and how far each of those engagements has progressed. If some engagements are running behind schedule, you can quickly reallocate staff to make sure you don’t miss important deadlines.
Ensure accounting regulations are met
Tracking engagement quality is also simpler with a practice intelligence solution. You can make sure all your engagements comply with any applicable regulatory requirements. And you can monitor and track the overall quality of your work, ensuring you meet quality management standards, such as the upcoming ISQM1and ISQM2 internationally, as well as regional standards like CSQM1, CSQM2 and ASQM.
Practice intelligence solutions can help you mitigate risks by detecting potential problems before they occur. Through a practice intelligence dashboard, you can look at risks across all your engagements and identify which present the biggest issues for your practice. You can even track risks over time, and if you see the number rising consistently, you can implement better controls, such as putting more senior staff on high-risk engagements, to ensure you achieve better quality. This leads to a better client experience and enhances your customers’ trust in your team.
Discover how accounting practice intelligence solutions like Caseware Sherlock can help you better manage your projects and practice and free up time to focus on delivering high-value offerings, such as client advisory services, to your customers.
Mike Martin is a Content Marketing Writer at Caseware. He is a former IT magazine editor with extensive experience researching and writing about enterprise technologies. At Caseware, Mike reports on today’s top issues affecting auditors and accountants and how advanced technologies are helping them drive better results.