Slow Strategy Implementation—The #1 Obstacle to Future Success

Implementation is the process that transforms plans and strategies into actions to achieve an organization’s goals and objectives. Unfortunately, many public accounting  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—the firm. Slow implementation is by far the #1 root problem to success and an issue that is fueling the volume of CPA firm mergers that is taking place across the nation. The message is clear, effective strategy implementation is key for achieving succession planning and long-term success.
Strategy to Implementation Gap
Successful implementation is accomplished by turning Strategic Plans into Action Items that are executed in a timely manner. An Action Item is a segment process of a Strategic Plan that defines specifically what is to be implemented, by whom, start dates, and completion dates. Execution of Action Items together with responsibility and accountability, will over time, narrow the implementation gap.
Partners and staff should be held accountable for executing their assigned Action Items and rewarded or penalized appropriately with compensation adjustments. Too often firms reward short-term accomplishments which take a back seat to the more important long-term objectives.
Periodic Review and Assessment
Short and long-term 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.
Leadership as Drivers of Implementation
Implementation will not be successful if the leadership of the firm is not hands on. Leaders need to be available as a resource, role models, and/or mentors to drive progress and completion of Action Items. Leaders must establish an implementation culture within the firm as part of its business model and hold it out to be as important as quality client service.
Delegation and Support
The most fundamental of all management 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.
Football team game plans are meant to keep the team competitive, score touch- downs, 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 can successfully execute a good game plan within 60 minutes that win more often. Similarly, CPA firms with well-designed strategic plans including Marketing, HR, and Technology, will only be successful if these plans are ultimately implemented in a timely fashion.