Give Your People the Resources They Need

Woman scanning a documentSeriously consider your rate of return.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

We have talked about putting the right people in the right places. Let’s discuss giving them the right resources.

MORE: 4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season | How to Create Good Managers | How to Hire and Manage Great Admin Staff | Managing People: The Heart of Effective Project Management
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Little angers me as much as getting cheap when it comes to giving staff what they need. Here’s an example from my wife’s career as a federal government contractor.
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4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season

Young businesswoman working on laptop computer with growth chart in backgroundThink of yourself as a CEO.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Please have a seat. No, not that one. Take the one next to me. All of us are here because we love you to death. We only want the best for you. But we can no longer stand by and watch you suffer. When you suffer, we all suffer as a family. We have written some letters to let you know how we feel. I’ll let your firm go first.

MORE: How to Create Good Managers | 4 Tips for Managing Advanced Preparers | The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects | Workflow for Dummies | How Effective Project Management Makes Your Life Easier | 2 Lessons Clients Taught Me | No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem
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“Your behavior has affected me negatively in the following manner. I’m not as profitable as I should be. You are stifling the development of your staff. Your clients are upset that returns aren’t getting done on time. Your kids resemble the mailman more than you.

“Please accept the help we are offering you today. We have your bags packed, and we’ll put you on a plane to rehab at the beach. Don’t worry about scoring your next fix. We’ll help you detox safely. But you must decide right now. You must give up your addiction to doing everything yourself.”
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How to Create Good Managers

Young woman lying on the desk at office and holding magic wand in her handYour deadline is April 5, not April 15. Here's why.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Good managers are a special breed. They possess that most valuable, difficult and rare of skills – the ability to review others’ work.

MORE: 4 Tips for Managing Advanced Preparers | 3 Tips for Handling Rookie Tax Preparers | Some Uncommon Advice on Hiring Full-Time Staff | What Goes Into a Client Project? | Value Pricers Ignore Half the Pricing Puzzle | CPAs Can’t Help You | The Agile Accountant
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Review skills require deep technical knowledge combined with an extraordinary attention to detail. And that’s not all. They need dazzling communication skills to be able to deliver criticism gently.
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4 Tips for Managing Advanced Preparers

Purple No. 4 billiard ballGood project management software also helps.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Managing advanced-level preparers sounds easier than it is. These preparers will all have blind spots that appear at inconvenient times. Some won’t be able to adapt to your internal procedures, because they worked at firms without well-defined procedures.

MORE: 3 Tips for Handling Rookie Tax Preparers | How to Hire and Manage Great Admin Staff | Managing People: The Heart of Effective Project Management | Tammy’s Tale of Tax Season Tardiness | Beware the Leeches and Consultants | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management
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We had one person who insisted on printing out the prior year tax returns and workpapers before beginning a return. She said she just needed the paper in her hands. That didn’t work for us.
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3 Tips for Handling Rookie Tax Preparers

... and 4 challenges.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

How do you train up newly-hired tax preparers?

MORE: How to Hire and Manage Great Admin Staff | The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects | Workflow for Dummies | How Effective Project Management Makes Your Life Easier | 2 Lessons Clients Taught Me | No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem | The Great Marketing Hoax
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Hint: Don't start with taxes. READ MORE →

How to Hire and Manage Great Admin Staff

Businesswoman shaking hands with someone out of view3 key points to remember.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

You can divide staff into four categories: administrative, entry-level preparer, advanced preparer and manager.

MORE: The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects | Some Uncommon Advice on Hiring Full-Time Staff | What Goes Into a Client Project? | Value Pricers Ignore Half the Pricing Puzzle
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I’m tempted to state that administrative employees are the most important people in your firm. I won’t go quite that far, but your administrative staff are every bit the face of your firm that you are.
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The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects

Magnet drawing in three people... and then manage their workloads.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Let’s talk about assigning staff to projects. Understand that this discussion will mean nothing the first two weeks of April, when you may be assigning the family dog to some returns.

MORE: Some Uncommon Advice on Hiring Full-Time Staff | Managing People: The Heart of Effective Project Management | Tammy’s Tale of Tax Season Tardiness | Beware the Leeches and Consultants | The Value-Pricing Con Job | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It.
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And that makes perfect sense in those circumstances. I’ve done worse. Who knew that goldfish can’t type?
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Some Uncommon Advice on Hiring Full-Time Staff

Your best bet is to be on the lookout all the time.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Finding full-time staff is a different beast altogether. Avoid recruiters. Most of their candidates are looking for jobs for good reasons. Nearly all of a recruiter’s candidates’ resumes will have the following job histories:

MORE: Managing People: The Heart of Effective Project Management | Tammy’s Tale of Tax Season Tardiness | Beware the Leeches and Consultants | The Value-Pricing Con Job | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It.
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Job 1: 1.5 years (This company sucked.)

Job 2: 6 months (This company sucked worse.)

Job 3: 2 years (Fine company but they wouldn’t pay me $150,000 per year for billing $80,000 per year.)
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Managing People: The Heart of Effective Project Management

https://cpatrendlines.com/2019/05/09/managing-people-the-heart-of-effective-project-management/Remember, bad clients crowd out good ones.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Somewhere in the period between the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, the first accountant evolved.

MORE: Workflow for Dummies | What Goes Into a Client Project? | Value Pricers Ignore Half the Pricing Puzzle | CPAs Can’t Help You | The Agile Accountant | The Cure for Commoditization
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He looked around and realized this Earth thing might become immensely profitable and set out to get capital gains treatment.

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Workflow for Dummies

Exhausted man rubbing his eyes under glassesSo you can quickly tell when a delay is the client's fault. Plus: The 12-step tax return and 8-step writeup workflows.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Let’s play buzzword bingo. I’ll go first: workflow.

MORE: What Goes Into a Client Project? | Tammy’s Tale of Tax Season Tardiness | Beware the Leeches and Consultants | The Value-Pricing Con Job | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management
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Workflow is the CPA firm buzzword of the decade. Every vendor leech trying to suck the life out of your bank account drops this term, and in so doing, workflow now means everything and nothing at all. Marketers have so devalued the term that we shouldn’t be surprised that no one has an effective workflow, because no one knows what it is. Let’s flush the confusion.
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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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