Temperatures are cooling off in much of the world as we move into the final quarter of the 2023 calendar year. Some industries are preparing for a bit of downtime and relaxation, while others gear up for the busiest time of year. Whichever category your accounting firm is in, fall is a great time period to work on some key tasks that you need to handle to ensure the business continues to run properly through the year and into 2024.
Consider using these and other tips to ensure your firm is in position to finish the year strong and achieve all relevant goals and milestones.
Check the health of your digital tools
Most accounting firms today have a number of tools they rely on to help them complete their work, from basic email and chat collaboration to more sophisticated accounting software meant to help with complex audit procedures and similar client work. Whether you have a full stack of software or only use a few different programs, this time of year can be great for taking care of simple tasks that need to be finished to keep your digital tools running properly.
As a simple starting point, see if any programs need updates or patches to take them to their newest versions. If any members of your team have reported technical problems or usability issues, now is a good time to investigate them. Don’t forget to assess your hardware, too – check out the storage space, operating system version, and overall performance of any devices being used to run your firm, from computers to servers to smartphones. This kind of tech maintenance can seem basic, but it can get neglected throughout the year, causing a bigger problem than necessary.
Get ahead of time off requests
Grocery store shelves are already full of holiday decorations, which means the holidays are right around the corner. For most people in the western world, it’s a time to take extended leave from work to spend some extra time with loved ones. That means both your team and your clients are likely going to be out of the office for longer chunks of time. This is especially true in today’s remote work era, where most people aren’t expected to be in an office from 9 to 5 all week.
If you don’t already have a system in place to handle requests for leave and time off, now is a great time to get one set up. Make sure you remind your team members to put in their requests as early as possible since lots of other people will probably be doing the same thing.
When it comes to clients, you should also try to get ahead of their time off, but you have less control over how they tell you and how much notice they provide. Do your best to discuss their holiday plans well in advance and remind them frequently as we get closer and closer to winter. If possible, try to handle any important deliverables or items for approval well in advance so that they aren’t lingering while your client is out of the office.
Keep an eye on metrics and annual KPIs
In many industries, there is a slowdown around the end of the year coinciding with the holidays since so many people are out of the office. However, this is not the case for every business. Certain industries – think retail or hospitality – actually tend to see a huge increase in business during this time period. Some businesses rely on increased sales during Q4 to ensure they meet their annual numbers.
Unless you’re brand new to running an accounting business or you’ve recently decided to change or expand specializations, you should know by now which side your firm falls on – it depends on the types of clients you work with. If your firm does accounting for retail consumer stores, for example, you can obviously expect they will be pretty busy over the holidays.
With your expectations for Q4 in mind, assess your current numbers and think about how likely it is for you to meet your annual goals. Things can certainly change between the end of Q3 and the end of Q4, but you may need to adjust the amount of time and resources you devote to certain initiatives to help ensure your focus is aligned with the goals and metrics you want to hit for the year.
Final thoughts on fall preparation for accounting firms
Fall is an excellent time for lots of things: hot ciders, colorful foliage, and a return to cooler temperatures. Even if you’re not a die-hard pumpkin spice addict who lives for autumn, it’s still an excellent time to do some prep work in your accounting firm. With the right accounting practice management tools in place and a bit of advanced planning, you can make fall a productive time period that positions your firm for an enjoyable, successful end to the year.