A recent Microsoft survey found that lack of team communication and ineffective meetings were the biggest factors decreasing productivity. What drains productivity at your organization and what steps are you taking to improve?

We are in 17 offices across three states and used to spend a tremendous amount of time and expenses traveling to meetings. We have now implemented video conferencing in all offices, and can have the same meetings without traveling. Another drain on productivity was staff having to travel to another office to assist with client work. With a combination of high-speed Internet circuits, Citrix, and storing all client information in CCH ProSystem fx Engagement, we can work for any client in the firm without leaving our desks. Also, we have written a project scheduling system to use in conjunction with the project management system in CPASoftware.

Greg Davis
Kennedy and Coe
Salina, Kan.

Partner Insights

In a consulting business, a sign of success is when nobody is in the office. But this means that communication within our internal team becomes a big challenge. We recently started using Windows Sharepoint Services intranet site as our internal communication and collaboration tool. This has had a big impact on our productivity. Our consultants can sign on to our Intranet site and read company news, access client lists and contact information, download documents, chat in discussion boards, and view project sites.

Anya Ciecierski
Milford, Conn.

The biggest drain in productivity is poor planning, followed by bad execution and often having to do things over again. To address these issues, all projects start in our office with a pre-implementation meeting to map out a schedule of events.

Peter Kaufman
Dynamic Software Solutions

TBC has a virtual consulting staff located throughout the United States which makes communication truly a daily challenge. Some attempts at improving communications and ultimately productivity include officially meeting four or five times a year as a group. There are scheduled conference calls every other Monday. We also use instant messaging and phone calls when immediate contact is required. Email is utilized for project plans and other correspondence, and conference calls and meetings at client sites for specific projects.

Richard Paul Thomas
TBC International
Salado, Texas

The single biggest obstacle to productivity for any professional firm - is the fact that they are run collegially, rather than as a business with definite lines of authority and people making decisions for the best of the firm, not their own individual pockets.

Allan Boress
Allan S. Boress Associates
Pompano Beach, Fla.

Email is a big time waster here at PCM. Steps to improve, we are considering a hardware spam appliance.

Peter Heinicke
Precision Computer Methods
West Chicago, Ill.

Because JMT has field offices in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and now Washington, D.C., there were two issues that we felt were of paramount importance: interoffice communication and maintaining the consistent delivery of a high level of service and support. To address these issues, JMT schedules monthly meetings that all staff are required to attend. These meetings have an agenda, with times for each item. Prior to the meeting, each team member is expected to provide agenda items. There is a weekly internal email that bullets information from each office/department on what occurred the prior week and what is scheduled for the upcoming week.

Jacqueline Tiso
JMT Consulting Group
Brewster, N.Y.

Our single biggest technology challenge draining productivity is to balance internal training and supporting our staff as they join the firm, and then to improve their productivity. It is a challenge of setting priorities, allocating resources, and organizing systematic procedures.

Stuart Rosenberg, CPA

There is also the overload of information from a variety of sources, but especially email. Too much information is thrown at everyone. We have to spend hours sifting through the gargantuan number of emails, newsletters, and communiqués to get to the important information necessary to our daily functions. In fact, some information is lost in the mountain of email received daily. Spam filters have helped, but significant productivity is lost every day manually filtering the email inbox.

David Barr Snyderwine
Potomac, Md.

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