How is realization in your firm? Is it steadily increasing as you continue to invest in the latest software and technology? Are you seeing increased efficiency in the form of increased realization and bottom line profitability? If not, it's because you aren't focusing on the process.
Realization is only partly tied to new technology. Process is the foundation for effectiveness - and technology is a solution to help get you there. Don't mistake technology as the silver bullet for increased efficiency. Your firm needs a backbone, and the backbone is consistent processes. So if you really want to see dramatic increases to realization and profitability focus on the process and begin by identifying the waste in those processes.
The following are some areas of your processes you'll want to look at:
This is one of the nine categories of waste in the Lean Six Sigma world. A waste is defined simply as something in the process that is causing unnecessary, non-value added time to the process. Having a lot of these wastes is a major symptom of inefficiency - and low realization.
One aspect of effectively utilizing your human talents is having the right people on the right jobs. You should always be asking if your people are working at the correct level. Too often partners are involved in lower level tasks and don't stay at that higher level where they can add significant value to your clients. And client value is what it's all about. When those partners are doing lower level tasks, the next generation isn't effectively being groomed and stretched to expand their capabilities either. It's a double-edged sword.
Conversely, you also need to take a look at areas where you may have lower level staff involved in complicated, high level matters. You've probably heard the phrase "push the work to the lowest level possible." The more effective mantra should be "get the work to the right level." Why? Because pushing work to the lowest level may create excess inefficiencies. So it's important to examine your process and ensure the right people are in the right roles at the right time.
The other aspect of effectively utilizing your human talents is to ask and engage the workforce, at every level, to improve their processes. A good facilitator should not only be able to get your team to identify the many wastes that occur in your process, but also ways to improve. Too often firms engage their workforce post tax season to "debrief." This may be seen as a chore and not what it truly is - an opportunity to improve the process and the firm. Trained facilitators have advanced methods to help with process efficiency, project management and team facilitation. It's a great way to make sure you don't waste anyone's time.