A CPA firm’s business strategy will be successful only if it satisfies four critical criteria:
- It has the ability to work given the needs of clients and the competitive landscape.
- It is embraced by the firm’s leadership and partners.
- The firm’s partners are capable of executing the strategy.
- The firm’s partners are motivated to execute the strategy.
We specialize in helping firms developing business strategies that drive top-line growth and bottom-line performance without risking firm stability. We use a process that looks at all aspects of strategy while engaging a firm’s partners to obtain their input and buy-in.
Keeping these imperatives in mind, we spend considerable time at the beginning of an engagement interviewing the firm’s Managing Partner and Executive Committee members. This enables us to learn the firm’s history, culture, governance model and risk profile. We then engage all of the firm’s partners in focus groups to get their thoughts on key issues and gauge their comfort zones with different possible changes. Simultaneously, we review available data, possibly augmenting it with fresh staff, partner and client surveys. Interviews, focus groups and surveys are based on guides and templates that we have developed, modified as appropriate to fit the firm.
After getting this detailed background information, we begin the process of developing the strategy, working with a Strategy Task Force appointed by the Managing Partner. The Strategy Task Force works under our close guidance and facilitation. We bring templates, benchmarks and industry experience to the discussion. We take notes and prepare draft documents for the Task Force. Task Force members edit the documents and make all decisions.
There are two outputs from the Task Force’s work:
- A detailed Five-Year Strategic Plan
- An accompanying Implementation Playbook setting forth roles, responsibilities and milestones for accomplishing the strategy.
Once the Task Force has completed its work, the Strategic Plan and Playbook are presented to the firm’s Executive Committee for discussion, approval and implementation planning. Before Executive Committee consideration, some clients elect to have the Strategic Plan and Playbook reviewed in detail with all partners, who are given time to comment and recommend changes. In other cases, the partner review takes place after the Executive Committee approves the plan. Almost always, all staff are given a high level briefing about the new strategy in a Town Hall meeting as part of the launch. After the strategy is approved, we are available to provide strong implementation support.
Because of client pressures, your business leaves little time for offsite meetings. When you hold them, they need to be productive for the firm and the partners. The main objectives of bringing the partners together are to identify key strategic priorities, gain partner support for these priorities and agree on a high level plan for making the priorities happen. In short, the retreat is a compressed business strategy development program whose output is strategic actions that are enthusiastically supported by the partners.
As industry experts and experienced facilitators, we bring established templates to the retreat-planning and facilitation processes. Often, we engage all partners in an assessment process as a prelude to designing the program. The output from the assessments gives strong insights that can be used to plan the retreat as well better understand partner tolerance for different types of strategic changes. We highly recommend that partner retreats span at least two days allowing for refinement of day 2 activities after day 1 is completed as well as time for social events and similar activities. Where the retreat spans three days, it is possible to include team-building activities, business challenge workshops or soft skills training – activities that can have a major impact on partner awareness, performance and trust.