A Post-Tax Season Assessment – Why You Need To Do One Right Now
Congratulations, T1 season is now officially toast. Yet another taxing (pun intended) period of high stress, late night candle burning, and inordinate amounts of coffee guzzling has come to a thankful end.
All of a sudden, you’ve got an important commodity at your disposal that you haven’t had for months – that ever-elusive free time. So, what are you going to do with it? Think profound, existential thoughts about the universe? Embark on a well-deserved vacation to an exotic locale? Binge watch the latest true crime series on Netflix? Or perhaps, do all of the above in no particular order?
Well, believe it or not, right now also happens to be the perfect time to do something else: reflect on what you did well – and what you did not – during this past T1 tax return season, while things are totally fresh in your mind.
You will find that performing a Post-Tax-Season Assessment is an incredibly worthwhile exercise, regardless of the size of your firm. Fact is, that by looking at your previous processes and procedures, you will be able to figure out what you will need to change, modify or even throw in the proverbial trash bin, to make your next busy tax season even better next year.
How To Perform A Post-Tax-Season Assessment
Let’s say you are sold on the idea of doing a Post-Tax-Season Assessment. Are you wondering how you can get it off the ground?
If you’re a self-sufficient army of one (Sole practitioners, that’s you!), you’ll need to book some time for yourself to take a deep dive into what transpired this year at various touchpoints. A suggestion: put this meeting in your calendar, blocking out what you believe is sufficient time.
Work in a larger firm? Your first step is to assemble a dream team from within your organization that will allow you to gather a wide range of opinions on what went down this tax season.
David Straughan, tax partner at MacGillvray Chartered Professional Accountants & Business Advisors offers a little guidance on this subject. He advises firms to pull together:
“an oligarchy of people with open minds who are not just going to advocate for the way things are already done, they are also going to be willing speak about things that frustrated and annoyed them.”1
What he is talking about here are passionate, experienced, thoughtful, constructively-blunt individuals who have their finger on the pulse of what is going on at your firm.
Get The Only Post-Tax-Season Assessment You Will Ever Need
Welcome to the next stage in the assessment process – the all-important information gathering extravaganza.
Whether you’re a sole practitioner or leading a dream team, what you need to do here is exactly the same. You must develop a series of questions that will help your firm perform a comprehensive post-tax-season assessment. Here’s a tip, be sure to include questions that cover every single stage of the T1 process, as well as other important tax-related issues such as staffing, administration and client service. But of course, you don’t want to overkill the exercise by asking too many questions. Everything has to be manageable for all those participating in order to maximize their energy and involvement.
Does this seem a little daunting?
Wolters Kluwer Canada has made it incredibly easy to gather all this important information, by developing The 2019 Post-Tax-Season Assessment that you – and your team members – can fill out right now online. And you’ll receive all kinds of valuable input in seconds that you’ll be able to use at the next stage of assessment you’ll learn about it a moment.
Next Up: The Post-Tax-Season Debriefing Session
So, you’ve got all this information at your disposal. Now what?
Time to hold a debriefing session – and do it within a few weeks after you’ve gathered all your information. The debriefing session is where all your findings are examined in great detail – and conclusions and points-of-view are developed. It’s your time to uncover all the things that frustrated and annoyed you, your staff or your partners during tax season.
If you’re a sole practitioner, conducting a debriefing is easy because you’re doing it all on your own. But if you’re in a larger firm, there are a few simple rules you may want to consider following to make it run smoothly.
To keep the meeting organized, you may want to group the items that will be discussed on an agenda, by type. And make sure you introduce this agenda at the top of the meeting, to keep the session on track. This will help facilitate discussion and assist you in identifying issues that people had finding missing information, conducting reviews at the partner level, meeting client goals for deliverables and more.
Developing Conclusions That Will Inspire Improvements
At the debriefing session, you’ll be able to analyze each stage of the workflow process. Yes, this is the time for you to ruthlessly review your workflow and identify and eliminate non-value-added steps that are holding you back from achieving your highest level of efficiency.
It’s also the time to analyze what worked, what didn’t and develop plans that may be implemented for next year to improve the way your firm operates. These plans may include changes that need to be made with respect to technology and software, the use of the cloud, staffing, billing, client communications, administration or other areas for potential improvement.
A Post-Tax-Season Assessment In Action: Crowe Soberman LLP
In 2018, Crowe Soberman LLP, one of the largest public accounting and advisory firms in Canada, discovered through their post-tax-season assessment process that they had an important issue that needed to be resolved. Mayeer Pearl, one of the firm’s Audits and Advisory partners, says:
“Our post-tax-period assessment pointed out that because people were bringing in all kinds of things like slips at different times, it was difficult to determine whether all information had been picked up once a T1 return had been completed.” 2
The firm came up with an innovative solution that was implemented last tax season with great success. According to Mayeer,
“We began utilizing easy-to-use software that tracked when stuff was coming in, who was working on it and where it was in the T1 preparation process. That way, nothing new was ever missed.” 3
Remember: The Best Time To Do A Post-Tax -Season Assessment Is Now
Sure, tax season is a crazy time. But it provides a concentrated period when you are able to experience first-hand what your firm did well and what it did poorly. When it comes right down to it, reviewing the last tax season at the beginning of the next calendar year doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. That’s because way too much time has elapsed since all the tax season action was going down.
The best time to do a post- tax-season assessment happens to be right now, mere weeks after the last tax season has ended. That’s why you need to get into gear, immediately. Start pulling together all the information you need to gather today by performing The Official Post-Tax-Season Assessment from Wolters Kluwer Canada online. Then, schedule your debriefing session lickety split. You’ll be well on your way to moving your firm forward and ensuring that your next tax season is your best ever.
2 Interview with Mayeer Pearl, Partner, Audit & Advisory, Crowe Soberman LLP conducted on April 16, 2019
3 Interview with Mayeer Pearl, Partner, Audit & Advisory, Crowe Soberman LLP conducted on April 16, 2019