The After Tax Season Debriefing

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I call it the ATS (after tax season) survey, others call it the annual post-mortem, the busy season debriefing and other various names.

It is an exercise CPA firms go through to assess the good and the bad (and I guess you could add ugly) of their just completed busy season. As you might expect, firm leaders go through the exercise of gathering key people for this discussion. Some firms survey the entire team for their input. Usually an action plan is the result of this exercise. But, then what happens? Often, very little actually happens to implement the necessary changes to make busy season better next year.

Make it different and better this year.

  • Design an internal survey that is divided into sections. There are some general questions to begin with and then there is a section for audit, tax, administration, technology/software and management/miscellaneous. Under the general category add a question ONLY for the accountants asking for feedback on the administrative teams performance and a question ONLY for the administrative team to comment on the performance of the accountants. Be sure to include a comment box and ask each “side” to give an example of above and beyond performance by the other team.
  • The firm administrator gathers all of the survey input and divides it by section. The audit section (raw data) goes to the Chair of the Audit Committee, the tax data goes to the Tax Chair, the firm administrator gets the admin section, technology comments goes to the IT leader and management/miscellaneous goes to the managing partner and firm administrator. These leaders use the data to meet with their committees and/or task forces to produce an action plan.

At my firm, the tax committee would not meet after busy season until they had this data. A brief summary of the feedback was made available to all team members and then the committees/departments shared their action plan after they met and reviewed the data.

Breaking it down into segments assures that more people are involved in the solutions and action plans have a better chance of being implemented. If you need a sample, feel free to contact me.



Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again
and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein





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