Life is tough on the front line of accountancy. For more than five years, our intrepid correspondent has been bringing us news and views from a typical West Country practice.
It's June, and that can mean only one thing.
OK, maybe two things - awful weather, but more importantly, loads of work.
We are getting a daily stream of 2012 tax return information from clients, and at last the flow is starting to go back the other way as we get the initial batches of Returns out for signature. The next month will see even more pressure on the tax team as we prioritise the accounts needed for clients renewing Tax Credits claims.
In the meantime, we are in the thick of our busiest audit period with at least another 6-8 weeks of big corporate work to do before we settle down to the smaller company accounts over the summer.
And, with perfect timing, we're also coming into the exam study leave and summer holiday period!! All this adds up to growing pressure on our team and less than 100% team availability to deal with the workload. That's where team working has become so important to us. Several of our team have left to have babies and have returned to us on a part-time or flexi-time basis, which we can tailor to suit both parties. What we have also found is that across the firm we are not all flat out at the same time, so with better communication we are able to share spare capacity and move jobs between offices. In many cases we can email accounting data, working papers and scanned documents so we don't even have to send boxes of accounting records across the West Country. This brings its own challenges, particularly accommodating different file and working paper disciplines - don't let anyone claim they have completely standard working paper systems across multiple offices, we manage to use the same software and file templates and still end up with very different looking files! Accounts preparation and tax return software does standardise most of the process though.
This all needs managing too, so client managers have to have one eye on their clients' demands, and one on what their team is up to - some of whom may be in other offices - Oh, and another eye on their own work. That's why we only recruit managers with three eyes (in case an Equal Opportunities inspector is reading this: that was a joke - 0,1 and 2 eyes is also acceptable in our firm!).