Ron Baker’s blast at the senior figures in our profession makes for great reading – if you believe the timesheet is an outmoded method of managing people and charging clients:
The more time I spend with firms and firm leaders, the more I realize they treat their people like bags of cement they can shuffle around for maximum efficiency. They don’t understand the difference between knowledge workers and manualâ€”or serviceâ€”workers, nor do they understand the critical distinction between efficiency and effectiveness.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking to partners and senior staff who are wedded to the time sheet and each time the question of ‘value’ seems to fall onto deaf ears. While everyone complains about the welter of bureaucracy, well illustrated by the new regulations around ageism, precious few understand what needs to be done to overcome the erosion in billing that worries smaller firms.
Preparing a set of accounts is a production process. The same goes for 90% of tax return work. If you recognise that then developing production systems to handle those chores makes a lot of sense in the drive to efficiency.
Effectiveness requires a wholly different mind and skill set. That’s about interpreting those accounts, glean additional insights and then act upon the conclusions to make a difference. If you’re going to offer those services, then you might as well offload the production line work as fast as possible, preferably to the client but if not then partner with those who can offer the service at utility prices or establish a cost effective, competitive book-keeping centre that bills for work done and not time spent.
In the meantime, if you’re drowning in production work, then you’re unlikely to have time to be a knowledge worker.