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Understanding the problem

“I can’t get a 360 view of where all the engagements are, and what is ready to go out the door.”
“These status meetings are so inefficient; we spend an hour just trying to understand where each job is.”
“Since we have all started working from home, I don’t know when my team has completed their tasks.”
“I wonder if we have the best allocation of staff?”

Do these problems sound familiar? We know that managing the audit practice is a universal problem that all firms are struggling with.  This has been magnified now in our completely remote environment when we are all working in separate places and there is a greater need to be more efficient.

The solution

The good news is, there is a solution available!  The answer is to consider the power of a workflow solution to help manage all your audits, for the benefit of all staff levels within the firm. CCH Axcess Workstream will put the status of your audit engagements right at your fingertips.  It will simplify the tracking of work and ensure consistent project management processes of every audit. This will enable everyone to be more organized and give the firm the ability to quickly see the overall status of the firm, or drill quickly into various practice groups.  Bottom line, it will enable everyone to work smarter.

Real life example

Recently we had the opportunity to talk with Romina Mameli, a director of audit technology at Powers & Sullivan to learn how they were able to leverage CCH Axcess Workstream to make a difference.  They are a mid-sized firm with a heavy focus on audits with a niche in a few different areas.  At a recent CCH Connections User Conference, Romina had an aha moment, she was learning how tax groups were using workflow tools so they could better manage their tax season and she drew the parallel to their audit group.  All levels within the firm need to understand where all their engagements are so they can more effectively plan their day, or even where they need to focus to get the final deliverables out the door. 

Here is an overview of how they approached the set up to get the maximum benefit:

  • Create templates for the various types of audits your firm does. As an example, Romina shared that they created separate ones for groups such as municipality and not for profits.
  • Create work steps for the audit. This is an important step, and you don’t need to be too ambitious. You just need to set up the steps that you think are the most critical to track.  Romina shared an important tip here – before you dive in, think about what you want your outcomes are. What reports do you want?
  • Group work steps by various phases of the audit. For example, you can group a set of work steps related to preliminary work and planning – this will allow you to see exactly where you are with the planning of the audit. 
  • You can associate work steps with the respective staff level within the firm. That way, the partner will be able to easily view where they need to focus.
  • Use the integration with the CCH Axcess Practice time capture feature. This means that once you update your time, you can also update the work step all from the one place. This will also allow you to review your time on the fly, or compare to budget.
  • Order the work steps as it progresses through the audit, this will give your team the visibility into what is the next step in the audit queue.
  • Use the milestone dates!  All the reports are based on the various milestone dates. So, think about what these are, and use them early during the set-up.

Outcomes

In summary, when we asked Romina how it changed their day to day, here is what she said:

  • Communication has been simplified – the next person responsible for an audit task is automatically notified.  This has also helped significantly during the remote nature of the current health crisis to ensure the lines of communication remained solid.
  • Starting each day with a plan!  It has helped them start each day effectively with the right plan, they can easily see which work steps have been completed, or which ones are still open.
  • Better management of the firm.  Before they started using CCH Axcess Workstream each partner would manage a spreadsheet with all their jobs, and they would sit in an hour long status meeting to just understand the status.  Now, they have that in a report and have that understanding in just a few minutes.  The status meetings now are significantly more effective as they can have conversations that are more constructive.

Conclusion

If these problems sound familiar and you want to better manage your day, and ultimately your entire audit practice then it is time to embrace CCH Axcess Workstream. With it, you can monitor due dates, manage projects, and map processes into standardized steps. Using built-in administrative workflow tools, you will:

  • Increase accountability with easy to understand dashboards, notifications, and project pools that keep everyone informed and up to date.
  • Manage resources more effectively with clear visibility into who is working on what.
  • Improve efficiency with the ability to track project status and due dates through electronic route sheets.
  • Enhance client service with greater visibility into project details for both partners and staff.

Learn more by visiting the CCH Axcess Workstream webpage.

AUTHOR

Cathy Rowe

All stories by: Cathy Rowe