“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” wise words from Benjamin Franklin. When it comes to accounting busy season, failing to prepare could result in dire straits. To avoid depleted resources, staff burnout, and the potential loss of clients, we’ve put together this definitive guide to planning for the busiest time of the year - your accounting busy season survival kit if you will.
Planning and preparation will prevent problems and poor performance
As Benjamin Franklin said, preparation is key.
To survive the accounting busy season, you need to do two things in advance: accurate forecasting and exact planning.
How can you successfully plan and perform to the best of your ability? It's only when you know what you will need to meet the demands of the season. This advance planning and preparation will also give you much more control over the busy season too which is vital for the survival of your firm.
Accounting busy season survival kit
To survive the accounting busy season, you need to prepare your firm, yourself and your staff for what’s to come.
It’s never too early to plan and prepare, so here are the four corners of the ultimate accounting busy season survival kit that you need to satisfy.
Before the busy season, you need to be sure that your firm is ready for the increase in demand. Ways to prepare your firm include:
- Checking your equipment. Do a full maintenance sweep on all of your equipment so that you can repair or replace them ahead of time.
- Updating existing software. Make sure all systems are up-to-date to avoid any issues. Doing so also allows you to learn any new features while you have the time.
- Installing new technology. Can any new systems or software streamline your process? If so, purchase them prior to the busy season and train your staff so that they become confident in using it.
- Carrying out an audit on operations. Check if your current operational strategy can handle an increase in demand without it affecting performance. If not, what needs to be tweaked?
A key component of the accounting busy season survival kit is self-care. During such a busy time, it can be easy to write-off self-care as an indulgence that you don’t have time for. However, to survive this period and to work more efficiently, you must learn to make this a priority.
To prevent burnout during accounting busy season, plan to:
- Eat healthily. Making a weekly meal plan is the best way to eat right during the week.
- Get sufficient sleep. Try having a rigid sleep schedule to get a sufficient amount of sleep consistently. Stopping work at a certain time will also help you wind down for the evening.
- Exercise regularly. Get out of the office every day for a walk at lunch. Start every morning with a run or yoga class. Or finish the day with a session at the gym.
- Look after your mind. Meditating for just 10 minutes a day can have a massive impact on your focus, productivity, and stress levels.
- Schedule in downtime. Going away for one weekend a month can be enough to switch off and re-energise. Just make sure to schedule it in in advance.
- Set client expectations. You need to work and control your own schedule. You can do this by simply setting client expectations early. This takes the pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines off yourself. Eventually, this results in a pleased client if you are able to get the work done before this!
Just like your firm, you need to prepare your staff for accounting busy season too. You need to prepare them for the increase in demand and pressure. Furthermore, you also need to be prepared to prevent them from burning out during this period too.
Ways that you can prepare your staff include:
- Hiring and training temporary staff. If hiring temporary staff is a requirement to perform during the busy season, make sure to do this in advance. This will ensure that they are at peak productivity and efficiency when the time comes.
- Managing their expectations. Outline what your staff can expect from the busy season. This could be long hours and weekend work, increased pressure, etc but also casual Fridays, team lunches, group meditations, discounted event tickets and others. It is also beneficial to outline what is expected of them too (e.g. what work will be delegated, how they can communicate if they are struggling etc).
- Helping them to strategise and prioritise. Help them create their strategy for the accounting busy season including how to time-manage, prioritise, and track their progress.
- Encouraging self-care. Stress the importance of taking breaks, exercising, eating healthily, sleeping regularly, and switching off. Raise awareness of burnout and plan to lead by example.
Reviewing and refining any process is essential to future success. So, plan to do this for your upcoming accounting busy season. In your planning, make sure to:
- Make contingency plans. If there is anything that could go wrong during accounting busy season, plan how you would overcome them.
- Put key metrics in place. You want to be able to measure your firm’s productivity and goals.
- Monitor operations in real time. Invest and implement reporting and analytical tools while also scheduling frequent team meetings.
- Conduct a thorough review when the period is over. Make sure to monitor how you managed the increase in demand, what went well and what didn’t as well as any major problems that arose which could have been prevented.
Plan, prepare and perform
You need to plan and prepare for accounting busy season if you want to perform to your highest standard. So, start using this accounting busy season survival kit as early as possible.
If you start planning for the next accounting busy season as soon as the other one ends, you can be sure that you will save yourself a lot of time and stress in the long run.