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Balance From Workflow

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 by Slaughter Development

Accountants are known for working ridiculously long hours. A CPA named Marty McCutchen, however, has found that improving workflow actually improves work/life balance.

McCutchen tells a familiar tale of life in a successful firm:

Public accounting — a place where chargeable hours were king and working on Saturdays was a badge of honor. Why in the world would we want to complete our tasks faster and then have to explain why we missed our charge hour goal for the month? A young staff that answers that question with, “I guess I am more efficient with my time than my colleagues,” does not find much traction in the world of a tax and accounting firm.

The author goes on to explain that the overarching problem in his field is the obsession with billable hours. When professional services companies charge by the hour, they effectively encourage employees to work more hours. After all, the more hours you can bill, the more money you can make.

McCutchen’s answer is to charge for services instead of time; however as The Methodology Blog noted when we first covered this topic back in 2008, the real issue is the old problem of confusing activity with progress. Employees might receive a salary for working, but customers prefer to pay only for results.

It’s not always possible to bill your clients based solely on actual work product, and although companies like Best Buy have bravely pursued a results-oriented work environment, it’s not always practical to compensate employees for their output alone. Therefore, every organization that struggles with work/life balance should evaluate the impact of their business services model on the work patterns of employees. Companies can design their pricing and their promises in a way that respects their workers. To learn more about how good workflow can improve work/life balance, contact Slaughter Development today.

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

Unsolved Due to Workflow Error - The British government maintains an ambitious registry of over four million DNA samples used in crime fighting. However, some major data entry problems have left nearly 200 crimes undetected. Read on »
Mental Balance and Variation - To Slaughter Development’s founder, balance and variation is key in creating and maintaining a proper diet. Likewise, it’s essential in the continued development of our minds. Read on »
Fire Protection Workflow - Every week, Muncie, Indiana firefighters dutifully submit maintenance reports to headquarters. Until last month, this was done by hand—by actually driving fire trucks across town to deliver the paperwork! Read on »
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