What Goes Into a Client Project?

Woman drawing flowchart on a blackboard20 project types. 6 components for each. Let's make this simple.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

We have resolved to manage our projects effectively. Just what are we managing? What is a project?

MORE: Tammy’s Tale of Tax Season Tardiness | How Effective Project Management Makes Your Life Easier | 2 Lessons Clients Taught Me | No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem | The Great Marketing Hoax | What the Value-Pricers Get Wrong | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions
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We could define a project in the manner Supreme Justice Potter Stewart defined pornography. “I know it when I see it.” But that will work as poorly for us as it worked for Justice Potter.
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Tammy’s Tale of Tax Season Tardiness

Pile of documents on desk stack up high waiting to be managed.Or, why you need project management.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Here’s a story about a former staff member who caused me years of therapy and cost us probably 20 clients in one year. Therapy for me consists of drinking craft beer, so I expect that I may need therapy for a lifetime.

MORE: How Effective Project Management Makes Your Life Easier | Value Pricers Ignore Half the Pricing Puzzle | CPAs Can’t Help You | The Agile Accountant | The Cure for Commoditization | Four Amusing Millennial Myths | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions
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Also, note that this story happened before I started enforcing company policies with a loaded Glock. The company handbook, which I wrote, allows this. I give you the “Tragic Tale of Tammy Tardy.”
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How Effective Project Management Makes Your Life Easier

Happier clients and happier staff are just the start.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

I have some excellent news. Effective project management can make owning a firm fun and profitable again. If not fun, it will be at least more tolerable than a lifetime of root canals.

MORE: Value Pricers Ignore Half the Pricing Puzzle | Beware the Leeches and Consultants | The Value-Pricing Con Job | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management
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I have worked two Aprils from the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament. This past September 15th, I worked from the beach. No one at the office seemed to miss me.
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Value Pricers Ignore Half the Pricing Puzzle

Profits.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

The best thing about value pricing is that you can succeed with just one piece of information – the value of your services to clients. You can toss your time sheets or any other cost tracking.

More Stitely: Beware the Leeches and Consultants | 2 Lessons Clients Taught Me | No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem | The Great Marketing Hoax | What the Value-Pricers Get Wrong | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions

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The income statement for a value-pricing CPA firm consists just of revenue – no expenses. Expenses are irrelevant when we have forward-looking metrics such as client and employee satisfaction.

Let’s have a little fun with the core tenet of value pricing. You only need know the value of your services to a client. You can ignore the cost of providing the services.

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Beware the Leeches and Consultants

Kool-aid for tax and accounting firms.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

A group has been abusing my Facebook timeline with ads touting a system promising to transform our clients into $10,000 annual billing clients.

More Stitely: 2 Lessons Clients Taught Me | CPAs Can’t Help You | The Cure for Commoditization | Four Amusing Millennial Myths

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I did a little sleuthing – for free of course. If I were billing someone for this, I would call it forensics.

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2 Lessons Clients Taught Me

Older businesswoman pondering, seated by windowWhat our clients can teach us.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Let's discuss Lean Six Sigma as it applies to CPA firms. Let's discuss lean processes and error tracking.

MORE: CPAs Can’t Help You | The Value-Pricing Con Job | No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem | The Agile Accountant | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | The Great Marketing Hoax | The Cure for Commoditization | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | What the Value-Pricers Get Wrong | Four Amusing Millennial Myths | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It. | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions

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You’ve probably heard of Lean Six Sigma. Our manufacturing clients implemented it back in the 1990s.

I’m betting this is the first time you’ve heard of its application to the CPA world.

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CPAs Can’t Help You

Young Asian entrepreneur reading magazineLook outside the CPA world for practice management answers.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

There are no easy answers. The people who are selling “Firm of the Future” once sold "elder care" as the future. Did you make a killing off elder care? That was one rotting corpse of an idea.

MORE: The Value-Pricing Con Job | No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem | The Great Marketing Hoax | What the Value-Pricers Get Wrong | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions

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Do you want advice from someone who found consulting to CPAs more profitable than being a CPA?

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The Value-Pricing Con Job

Versus the Law of Tax Preparer Time Management.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Let’s tackle my biggest gripe with the value pricing people. “Time sheets suck! Toss your time sheets!”

Who doesn’t hate filling out a time sheet for the entire week at 5 p.m. on a Friday? How could that ever be accurate? It cuts into my beer-drinking time!

MORE: No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem | The Agile Accountant | The Cure for Commoditization | Four Amusing Millennial Myths | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It. | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions

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Do time sheets even exist anymore? They haven’t existed since about 1990 at the latest. Some genius invented the memory resident, background timer that lets us track and record time as we go. Our first time-tracking software was Timeslips back around 1990. It had a timer that fed timeslips into billing and reports on a real-time basis – back in 1990.

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No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem

Woman driving a sports carThe tough love only you can apply to your practice.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

I know … you became a CPA because that sounded like an adult job that would give you the financial resources to buy that Lamborghini and winter in the south of France. Have that Lamborghini yet? Me neither. Clearly, people lied to us – #fakecareers. I’m not really into $2,000 oil changes anyway.

MORE: The Agile Accountant | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | The Great Marketing Hoax | The Cure for Commoditization | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | What the Value-Pricers Get Wrong | Four Amusing Millennial Myths | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It. | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions

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So, let’s shift the focus from you to your firm. What will your firm be when it grows up? What do you want it to be? How do you transform your firm to make it the best it can be?

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The Agile Accountant

Scrum line art illustrationLearning a lesson from software programmers.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Agile project management conjures up the image of scruffy software programmers surrounded by empty pizza boxes at 3 a.m. hacking away at producing the next Google.

MORE: The Cure for Commoditization | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | What the Value-Pricers Get Wrong | Four Amusing Millennial Myths | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It. | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions

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What could Agile possibly bring to accounting and income tax preparation?

Actually a lot, and it could transform your workflow and provide a quantum leap in the efficiency of your project management.

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The 21st-Century CPA Firm

Young businesswoman using a tabletLearning how to learn.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Our profession is woefully behind state-of-the-art management.

MORE: The Cure for Commoditization | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | What the Value-Pricers Get Wrong | Four Amusing Millennial Myths | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It. | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions

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Have you read anything about agile project management in CPA firms? No? Well then, lean in a little.

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The Great Marketing Hoax

Dump "differentiation." Embrace profitability.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

There are only two ways to succeed in a commodity market: 1. differentiate or 2. get really efficient.

MORE: The Cure for Commoditization | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It.
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If you’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid from industry consultants who have never worked in CPA firms, you’ll likely choose differentiation. When you differentiate, you get paid what you’re worth – at least according to these experts.

But let's take a closer look.

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The Cure for Commoditization

Managing for profits beats price-cutting.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

In the beginning, the IRS created the 1040 and saw that it was good. Shortly thereafter, the first CPA crawled out of the primordial muck and asked, “How can I make money preparing tax returns?”

More Stitely: What the Value-Pricers Get Wrong | Four Amusing Millennial Myths | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It. | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions | Where WorkFlow Management Runs Off the Rails | Three Ways Your Office Tech Is Ruining Your Firm | When Value Pricing Works | The 4 Dark Clouds Hovering Over Cloud Accounting Software | Value Billing on the 19th Hole | The IRS and Big Data Gone Bad | Will Zero Data Entry End Your Tax Practice? | Three Trends That Will Transform Your Tax Practice or Eliminate It | Value, Billem & Dunn: A Value Billing Case Study | How to Make an Extra $72,000 by Working Smarter

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The green eyeshade-wearing Neanderthal CPAs eventually evolved into CPAs experienced in electronic data management, but today, we are still trying to answer that first question.

Effective project management isn’t the entire answer, but it’s an essential building block.

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