Implementation is the process that transforms plans and strategies into actions to achieve an organization’s goals and objectives. Unfortunately, many CPA firms fail to implement their strategies and business plans or do so in a painfully slow manner and don’t pay proper attention to their most important client—their Firm. Slow implementation is by far the #1 obstacle in growth and succession that is fueling the volume of mergers that is taking place across the nation.
Leadership as Drivers of Implementation
In order for implementation to be successful, leaders must establish an implementation culture within the firm as part of its business model. A key element of this culture is the ability of leaders to effectively act as role models for implementation and change. Once leaders can successfully implement change, then they can be a resource, role model, and advocate to others who are having difficulty with the process.
The most fundamental of all leadership skills is delegation—getting things done thru others. Partners need to delegate action item tasks and projects to reliable and capable people whether they are professional staff or administrative staff, and to manage their progress. Effectively using delegation to complete action items on a timely basis is a significant factor in building a successful firm of the future.
Responsibility & Accountability
Responsibility is a commitment that partners make to themselves. Accountability is the commitment a partner makes to the firm and to other partners. Partners need to be accountable as an integral component in achieving the firm’s goals and objectives and should be assigned specific action items together with start dates and dates of completion. They should be held accountable for executing their assigned action plans and rewarded or penalized appropriately with compensation adjustments. Too many firms reward partners for short-term accomplishments which take a back seat to the more important long-term objectives.
Periodic Review and Assessment
Short and long-term strategic action items should be reviewed and assessed monthly by the Managing Partner and/or Executive Committee in partner meetings or in one on one discussions with partners. All partners involved in this process need to know what is expected of them and how their progress will be measured. Putting in place the proper oversight and continuously checking for obstacles in implementation will enhance the chances for successful implementation. Partners often complain about the lack of time to implement plans, but often it’s the lack of monitoring and direction that’s the real problem.
Football team game plans are meant to keep the team competitive, score touchdowns, and ultimately, win the game. However designed, it’s not always the team with the best players that are successful. Many times, it’s the teams that have good coaches who provide timely direction and execute the game plan during the four quarters of the game that win more often.
Similarly, CPA firms with well-designed strategic plans will only be successful if these plans are ultimately executed with a sense of urgency.