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Modern, Unique Solutions to Capacity Management

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The AccountingWEB Live Summit brought one of the main missions of the website to life: Moving conversations forward and encouraging thought leadership. Will Baker's insightful talk on capacity management, a hot topic among the accounting community, did more than simply talk about the problem: It sought to both bridge the generational divide and educate practitioners on modern solutions.

May 10th 2022
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Accountants across America are facing the serious issue of capacity management, which has shown itself to be complicated to understand and has left practitioners struggling to find a viable solution. Many attempt to handle the increasing amount of work available by hiring more staff members, but Will Baker says there’s a better approach. His solo session at the inaugural AccountingWEB Live Summit, "Understanding and Solving the Capacity Management Problem," was presented to a packed room and moved the discussion from concerns about how to solve the issue to concrete ideas accountants could implement.

It’s no secret work has changed since the pandemic began in 2020. Many people lost their jobs and spent months just sitting at home. When the job market began to open back up, the time they’d had to think helped them realize there were certain things they wanted from their employers that they hadn’t been getting before. The result has produced several complex problems for companies: not only are many struggling to balance their wants with those of potential employees, but some industries, such as accounting, are facing a severe and frightening talent shortage. This is particularly problematic for accountants, for whom more work than ever is available. 

However, the people issue is not the only problem that needs to be solved, Baker points out. There are other facets that affect whether a firm handles capacity management successfully.

One of these, perhaps surprisingly, is billing. During his session, Baker offered a list of changes practitioners could make to their billing practices that would help the situation. These included implementing value billing, which will help accountants’ damaging focus on how much time it takes to get work done in order to meet their financial goals. It also encourages and allows for automation: Rather then performing every task by yourself to rack up billable hours, you’ll be able to utilize technology to your advantage and focus on other, less tedious tasks that will add value in the eyes of your clients.

Baker also recommends expanding your network and even hiring a consultant to examine the various facets of your firm, including workflow, services, and how clients and staff are managed. Having an outside, unbiased person examine the workings of your firm often results in valuable feedback and may reveal issues practice owners might not have noticed on their own. 

Furthermore, rather than just hiring more people, Baker encourages accountants to adapt to the new reality. Fewer people with straightforward accounting degrees are entering the field, and many workers prefer a hybrid or remote job and will actively turn down a position that requires them to come to the office and not work from home. While it may take some time to figure out how this can work for your firm, the end result will be worth it: You won’t be bypassed by talent simply because of one stipulation.

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