Project Management Tips for CPA Firms

Tim Sines

What’s the secret to building a successful accounting firm?

If you ask 100 accounting firms, you’ll likely come away with 101 answers. But at the core of each answer will be the same sentiment: Satisfactorily completing tasks on time and on budget.  It can be difficult to get from start to finish when you’re dealing with limited resources and sometimes unreasonable demands. You’ll also need to appease multiple players along the way. This includes your client, your team members, and your stakeholders. You’ll need to balance risk with expectation and ensure that you’re not biting off more than you can chew. The better you manage your project, the more in control you will be of its final outcome.

Let’s discuss how to manage projects more effectively in your CPA firm.

What is Project Management?

Project management is the process of guiding your team to achieve the goals that you’ve set out to accomplish. You’ll use skills, systems, tools, and techniques to help you complete your project. Project management focuses on efficiently organizing and managing all of your resources throughout the lifecycle of a project.

The bottom line? To effectively manage your project, you’ll need to develop a clear plan of action and use the right resources to help you complete that action. You’ll also need tools to help you monitor your progress.

While effective project management will not always prevent delays and mishaps, it will mitigate risks, improve productivity, and help you get a handle on the budget. Through careful project management, you can increase client satisfaction and ultimately build a brand that is synonymous with quality and dependability.

There is no downside to implementing the project management framework into your accounting firm.

Project Management Tips for Accounting Firms

Project Management Tips for CPAs

Let’s discuss top project management tips that will benefit you and your team.

Define What Success Looks Like

Every project you begin should have a clearly defined set of goals. In other words, you and your team should agree on the same definition of success. How will you know that you’ve reached a goal if there isn’t an agreed-upon goal to reach?

Successful project managers know to begin with the end in mind. If you know your end goal, you can then work backward to identify the resources you’ll need to reach that goal.

It’s also important that you and your team have a good understanding of what tasks you need to complete to reach your goal and what tasks may be nice but ultimately not necessary.

What are the top project management tips for CPA firms? #accountingfirmtips Share on X

Identify Your Constraints

What will possibly prevent you from reaching your goal(s)?

It’s essential that you identify potential blockers along your path so that you can make a plan for removing them or taking a detour.

The next step is to take a cold, hard look at any constraints, limitations, or risks that could ultimately thwart your bid at success.

In project management, the most common constraints are time, cost, and scope. If you don’t effectively manage what is known as the triple constraint, you may doom your project to failure.

Time deals with properly managing your schedule for project completion. It’s easy to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task, especially if there are several moving parts.

Cost refers to all of the financial considerations you must make to complete your goal. Keep in mind that a cost constraint may include the cost of materials, software, equipment, and labor.

A project’s scope is all of the work you and your team must do to accomplish the project’s goals. It includes deliverables and details. But time and cost are tied to the project’s scope. If the project’s scope gets bigger, so will the project’s cost and time. Ideally. However, in worst-case scenarios, projects can fall victim to scope creep.

Scope creep happens when more work is added to the project, whether that means added deliverables or more requirements to meet before the stakeholders are satisfied. Scope creep is poison and should be avoided in order to stay on track. You’ll avoid scope creep by knowing and clearly defining your goals, documenting your agreements, sticking to a schedule, and saying “no” when necessary.

Make a Plan

Once you have a big-picture view of your end goal and an understanding of your constraints, the next step is to make a plan to get from A to Z. Keep in mind that you can and should include several milestones along the path.

Milestones are checkpoints that not only signify an accomplishment but also give you an opportunity to measure your progress toward your goal.

Successful project management also incorporates key performance indicators or KPIs for short. A KPI is a measurable value that can be used to evaluate how much progress your team has made toward your goal.

In project management, top KPIs to consider include the following:

  • Cycle Time
  • Planned Hours Vs. Time Spent
  • Client Satisfaction/Net Promoter Score
  • Budget Variance
  • Cost Performance Index

Prioritize Your Tasks List

Not all tasks will require the same level of prioritization.

To prioritize tasks, first, create a list of all of the tasks you need to complete in order to reach your project’s goal. Then, identify which tasks are urgent and which can wait. Next, define the value of each task. And finally, arrange the tasks by required effort. It’s often most effective to focus on the most effort-intensive tasks first and then work in descending order to the simpler tasks. However, if your team works better with a different approach, don’t be afraid to adapt.

Additionally, tasks should be evaluated and merged into another task or outright eliminated to minimize redundancy and maximize the time you’ve allotted to complete the project.

Project Management Tips for Accounting Firms

Use Practice Management Software

One of the best ways to set your team up for success is by incorporating project management accounting software, such as Mango Practice Management Software.

An all-in-one accounting and project management software will ensure that you stick to a schedule and never miss deadlines.

Use your practice management software to effectively manage all aspects of a project. First, start by customizing your workflow. As we’ve discussed in this post on workflow management, a workflow is a series of steps that you take to complete the task at hand. Developing workflows will ensure consistency as well as increase output. Workflows also allow you to streamline your processes so that you eliminate time wasters.

You can use Mango practice management software to automatically assign responsibilities to your team members and then automate future deadline reminders. This will boost productivity and ensure that they’re reminded of upcoming deadlines on a timely and consistent basis.

Learn more about Workflow Management Tips for Accounting Firms here.

Develop Project Management Templates

One top reason to choose Mango practice management software is for the project templates. Through Mango, you can create project templates to fit into your custom workflows. Or you can browse through our library of pre-made templates and customize a project template to suit the needs of your project.

Schedule a free demo with Mango Practice Management and see how we can help you stay organized throughout the entire lifecycle of your project.

Final Thoughts

Effective project management is the key to your success as a CPA. Use the above tips to ensure that your accounting firm is meeting internal business goals, deadlines, and your clients’ expectations.

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