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Challenge ahead !!!

Hi Guys

I have been offered an opportunity in small practice. My initial role will be to improve existing systems with in a firm i.e time accumulation, billing, staff appraisal and rest of practice management issues. After this I will be moved into core areas of the business. I will join this pracice from Oct / Nov this year. I am ACCA qualified and currently working outside the UK as a Senior Auditor. How can I best utilise my time in preparation for joining practice i.e any good books on practice management or any useful online courses. Please guide.

Thanks

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21st Feb 2011 11:23

My thoughts (brutally honest)

Your work as an auditor in no way prepares you for life in a small practice where the majority of the work is tax related and accounts prepared under the FRSSE.

Now, If I were working in this practice and someone like yourself who knows nothing about the work involved (with no offence intended) was parachuted in to deal with things such as staff apprisals, time costing etc, I would not be best pleased.

I can't help but think you have gotten it the wrong way round - you should start at the bottom in the practice assisting with the preparation of accounts & tax comps until you learn the ropes.

 

 

 

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Sounds good

Firstly, Roland this is called Any Answers not Any Judgment, the question is valid, whatever your assumptions and prejudices (no offence intended).

This situation mimics something I went through way back in the dim distant 20th Century.  I had qualified with a small firm and had gone off to the smoke for 2 years to gain large firm experience, in particular with regard to audit.  I then returned to a small firm with the remit to bring my experience to bear on the systems and people.  It was a waste of time but that's another story.

Whilst I am a great believer in e-learning for updates etc, I get the impression that this may be a ramp up in your skills and so I'd always recommend the traditional lecture.  The ACCA run courses specifically on Prac Man and have a whole day Practice Management Conference on 14 May in London.  They are also running a Managing & Developing a profitable practice seminar in Birmingham 12 Oct or London 25 October, but that may be a bit late.  Also scan through the ACCA's e-learning site (it's down as I type) for anything else that may fit.

There are also many online courses and books concerned with people management only a Google away and you might want to consider distance learning facilities from business schools & uni's.  You don't say what experience you've had in this respect but I would suggest that it is perhaps the most crucial bit of your remit as, if you don't get people signed up to any of your findings & suggestions, you've wasted your time.  If you are new to it then Busineslink's employment & skills section is a good place to start: http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?r.s=tl&topicId=1073858787 and has sections on appraisals and development.

Going back to my experience, I hope you are OK for some general thoughts, just in case.  You will be wasting your time if you do not have the full support of the senior partner(s)/management from day one and, although it may seem daft to ask it, check to see what they have said (will say) to their colleagues/staff about your role, I only found out the day I arrived that two out of the 3 partners anticipated I'd have little to do with them and the other managers and staff had been told I was there to shake them up and get them working for a living.

With hindsight I should have stood back and taken at least 2 weeks to assess what I was facing (in reality rather than what I'd been told), interview people and watch, ie bringing some old fashioned auditing skills to bear, instead they got me working on the mess that was their time ledger as well as the senior partner' unmanaged jobs.

Despite being given your remit beware of rushing what others see as important.  A good system of staff appraisals for example is important but may take a year or two to bed in whereas there may be some other aspects that could be dealt with in the short-term with little impact but with immediate results.  having said that, this is the firm's opportunity to chuck stuff in the air and start again so be open to some off the wall stuff (eg, my agenda, dumping timesheets).

Whether you take it all the way through the practice or not the best management tool I've ever used is SWOT analysis, it's old fashioned now but is still a great help when putting things in perspective about an organisation and it's functions.

Hope I'm not "teaching a grandmother etc" with some of that but it rang bells.  Good luck.

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By 0257688
22nd Feb 2011 04:13

Good to be positive

Thanks Paul. I appreciate your input. I understand it will be a challenge for me but I am ready to take it. I have started studying for ATT and then I am going to take an online course with ICAEW on IFRS for SME to cover both my tax and accounting side. ATT is very practical and i think it will give good tax knowledge to start off in small practice. On practice Management I will visit ACCA and will also visit Business Link. That's my plan....

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