Your views on practice awards | AccountingWEB

Your views on practice awards

We've been working in the background on a new award scheme for AccountingWEB members that is currently going under the name of the AccountingWEB Practice Excellence Awards.

The idea is to honour and encourage excellence within the profession. The scheme will cater for:

  • Small firms (2 partners or fewer)
  • Middle sized firms (3 to 8 partners)
  • Large firm (8+ partners)

We will be looking for evidence of excellent client service and innovation and will invite nominations from practices who feel that they meet the criteria. There will be a small entry fee and firms will then be assigned an online questionnaire to collect responses from their rathing how well their accountant understands and supports their business.

Firms will be shortlisted by a panel of highly experienced judges, but the final vote, like our Software Satisfaction Awards, will be decided by members of the AccountingWEB community.

Does the idea of such a scheme interest you - and how likely are you to enter your firm? Are there any aspects you would like to know more about?

We're putting the final touches to the project plan and launch announcements, so it would be very useful to hear what members think.


this is not something you should be doing is it?

carnmores | | Permalink

why annoy the non winners and laud the winners which are likely to be subjective , unfair promotion perhaps - keep what is left of your independence ;-)

Moonbeam's picture

I won't be a winnner, then

Moonbeam | | Permalink

Having read in the Guardian recently about the number of industry awards where contestants pay to enter and having thought for many years that such awards mean nothing, I shall not "allow my name to go forward". As a one person business, who on earth will notice my absence?

I wonder about the number of awards that Sage payroll regularly wins despite carrying forward more bugs than ever each year and its lesser used functions becoming increasingly unreliable. I look at all such awards as stitch ups when perhaps some of them are not. Years ago a printer told me he had to keep entering such "competitions" as his larger clients seemed to require it. Yet when he looked at the low number of entrants, he didn't really have much competition as such.

I am glad to say my clients have never asked me how many awards I have won, and many of them, like me, might be extremely sceptical if I did tout such awards to them. They are more interested in our business relationship, which cannot be quantified, as both of us are unique.

So if you go ahead with this tosh, I shall just ignore it, think less of AccountingWeb briefly, and then turn back to Any Answers, which is the most supremely useful service I have ever had the privilege of using, given that it is "staffed" by intelligent, kind, helpful and knowledgeable people most of whom have absolutely no axe to grind.

It would not interest me

chatman | | Permalink

FirstTab's picture

John please don't do this

FirstTab | | Permalink

I love AW, but not AW awards. This is not what AW is about. Accountants voting for other accountants - I am too selfish and too  jealous to vote for someone to say - you are better than I am.

I do not rate practice awards.

Please, please, please stay away from this John. I love the ipad competitions. Lets have more of this please.

Bring something where everyone has an equal chance of winning. Practice 1 has 100 clients, Practice 2 has 70 clients. They both provide excellent service. Who will get more votes from their clients?

Awards divide people and generally are not fair.



John Stokdyk's picture

Ouch! But thanks for the feedback all the same

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

Genuine thanks to everyone so far for the feedback - it's better to hear the criticisms now and to think through the implications you've raised so that we can shape our plans (or reconsider our plans) to reflect your concerns.

I'm not certain that we would abandon the scheme at this point, but we'll definitely take the points raised seriously.

If any of you are aware of the successful Software Satisfaction Awards, they are voted on by more than 7,000 people, which makes them very difficult to rig. The voting is also based on an average score, so it's not about who has the most supporters, but how highly they rate the programs.

We wanted to get away from the backroom deals that seem to cloud many awards schemes, which is why we developed the SSA-like approach, which we felt reflected the community-based nature of AccountingWEB, and made it an online exercise in which thousands of firms and their clients could participate.

Does anyone in this group still think there might be value in such an exercise?

Either way, we'll be going back to the drawing board over the next couple of days to review our plans. Thanks again for the comments.

Moonbeam's picture

Clients will probably be far too busy to participate

Moonbeam | | Permalink

I would never have the gall to suggest to my very hardworking clients that they should spend any time voting for me in some sort of competition that will have no benefit to them, let alone me.

bookmarklee's picture

Big difference John

bookmarklee | | Permalink

Accountants use software so may feel they have a view and can vote - albeit they are only voting for the software they use.

Accountants don't use each other's services so have no real basis for voting in the scheme you have described above - other than by ref to the contender's self promotional statements and maybe their contributions on the site.

BTW - Since when were firms with 8 plus partners 'large' ?  If I was in a ten or 15 partner firm I wouldn't want to be thought of as in a 'large' firm as this might put off prospective clients who don't want to pay 'large' firm fees.


shall i be a little clearer as you still dont get it

carnmores | | Permalink

its a **** idea

mind you on that basis you might well proceed ;-)


Don't sugar it Carnmores

chatman | | Permalink

Get off the fence and speak your mind. 

Does anyone here take any notice of the Software Satisfaction Aw

chatman | | Permalink

I don't see how you can equate one person's satisfaction with Sage with another person's satisfaction with, say, Arithmo. From the posts I have seen on AWeb, some people seem to be very easily satisfied and others more demanding. In addition, I imagine some software producers ask their customers to vote for them while others don't.

I notice Moneysoft Payroll Manager doesn't rank anywhere in the 2010 results, despite being raved about by AWeb users. 

Was there an award called something like The Progressive Practice on AWeb?  I might be getting confused but I saw it somewhere and did not really understand the point of it. Maybe accountancy is just not suited to awards parties like the mutual-self-abuse sessions of the navel-gazing show-business and advertising industries.

Retraction re Progressive Practice Award

chatman | | Permalink

On further thought, I can see the point of the Progressive Practice award, and it seemed like a good idea. It would have been good to see how other firms made use of the latest technology and techniques. I don't think it really turned out that way for me but I think the idea was probaby good.

John Stokdyk's picture

Thanks for making the argument for me

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

I appreciate your candour, Chatman, for coming back with a reassessment of the Progressive Practice Award.

The object of the exercise was to encourage innovation, efficiency and creative thinking within the profession. The interest and publicity the scheme generated got us thinking about how we could expand it. While the awards were sponsored by a software vendor, CCH, they weren't just about using and applying technology. A different way of meeting with clients, talking to them or handling their affairs internally could be just as important an innovation.

The awards also weren't just about recognising the winners and nominees (though many firms seem to enjoy the limelight and kudos that comes from being discussed in this way), they're also about sharing some of the good ideas that people are putting into practice. Your point about this not being so apparent from the Progressive Practice Awards has been taken on board, and this would be something we would work very hard to improve on in the next wave so that more people see and understand the point of the awards.

I also think that the Software Satisfaction Awards are taken seriously, because of the massive level of participation that takes place (a majority of the 7,000-8,000 SSA respondents are AccountingWEB members, by the way). Yes people are subjective, but if you collect enough of them together their foibles will balance out and an objective, statistically relevant picture can emerge; the wisdom of the crowd will outweigh individual quirks.

For software vendors, the endorsement from users is a very powerful marketing message. Do a Google image search on "software satisfaction" and see how many of them put the nominee/winner logo on their websites.

In outline, the Practice Excellence awards will start from the same point as last year's Progressive Practice scheme, but will involve three steps: nomination; assessment/shortlisting by indepedent judges; and a final online poll. People have questioned whether a poll of accountants is a relevant or suitable selection method, but it's an important ingredient of our plan: accountants should be able to assess the claims of contenders based on their own experiences and judgement. And what better basis for an assessment could there be than recognition from your peers?

Involving the wider community adds an important degree of objectivity to the exercise and we thought it would encourage participants to buy into the ideas presented and encourage them to think about how they might apply some of them within their own firms.

The awards project team is taking away the points raised so far. We'll adjust our plans as a result of some of them and try to define our objectives more clearly to convince AccountingWEB members that it will be worth taking part.

Once we've had a chance to debate the points raised, we'll be back to tell you more about the scheme. Again, all of your feedback has been really helpful, so many thanks.

andy_north's picture


andy_north | | Permalink

First of thank you all for your comments about our proposed awards programme. We are always interested to listen to feedback from the community.
I would like to make some points about how and why we’re looking to set this up.
These awards are an evolution of the Progressive Practice project we ran last year. As a relatively low key effort we were pleased to receive over sixty entries and many hundreds of votes for the finalists.
We were backed in that venture by CCH who put up a fairly significant prize.  It transpired though that the majority of entrants were more motivated by the title rather than the material prize which was an encouraging sign.

During that process (and since) we heard a lot of comments about the lack of transparency of other awards programmes which were decided by a panel behind closed doors. We therefore set out to devise a process that was both transparent and as fair as possible. The following points were considered:

  • That the we wanted to recognise excellence in the various disciplines of running a practice (outside of pure accountancy ability)
  • That the best people to judge a firm from a client experience perspective are the clients themselves
  • That the best people to judge a firm in terms of the processes that firms employ are other accountants (in the same way that the progressive practice was judged)
  • That the expert panel element needed to be completely independent (which is why the judges will not be aware of the identities of the firms that they evaluate)

If, as a practice you feel that you have excellent relationships with your clients and have developed slick and robust ways of marketing/processing clients etc then this should perhaps be something to celebrate and draw attention to.
It is also worth pointing out that the we won’t be charging for finalists to attend the ceremony where winners will be announced and the nominal entry fee is there to cover the extensive administration process that this process will require.
With regards to sponsors, many of our advertisers (without whom the site would cease to exist) are keen to support accountants and wish to be associated with firms that are doing well.
Finally I would say that the collective survey data we will be collecting (anonymously) from the client voting stage will give us a very good picture of how accountants generally are servicing their customers. We will be able to disseminate this as something that whole community will benefit from.
I hope that this answers some of your concerns - please come back if you have others.

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