CBIZ has partnered with a company called Insight2Profit, a business management consultancy based in its hometown of Cleveland, on using tools to help the Top 100 Firm’s accounting and tax practice improve its performance.
Insight2Profit has mainly worked with private equity firms until now, but CBIZ wanted to see how its technology could be applied within an accounting firm.
“CPA firms historically are good at setting high-level goals each year, but they really fall short on defining specific plans to achieve them,” said Chris Spurio, president of financial services at CBIZ. “By plans I’m really talking about plans at the individual partner or engagement level. What happens is line partners are left to figure out on their own without a lot of insight or tools and not a specific roadmap, and often they don’t achieve those goals. We decided to embark on something that we think is really innovative.”
About two years ago, CBIZ decided to begin working with Insight2Profit to come up with ways to improve performance, similar to the way the company has helped private equity firms.
“They have tools and a methodology in data analytics that helps these PE funds improve the performance of the businesses they acquire,” said Spurio. “This is a highly regarded high-growth practice that caters to private equity and has worked in many service lines and industries. But they haven’t worked before with a CPA firm up until now. We decided to partner with them and spend a considerable amount of time working together to understand their tools and approach and to teach them about our business and how CPA firms work. The result of that is a really innovative approach on how to enable their technology and identify ways to deliver services far more efficiently and translate that into value for our clients.”
CBIZ is using Insight2Profit’s technology to take a closer look at its engagements, clients and employees. “We partnered with them and we created a tool whereby we basically are taking every engagement, and we are stratifying it and we are defining key attributes,” said Spurio. “We are running every client though this filter process to identify those that we believe need some additional planning. And we’re finding specific things that then need to be addressed. It may be the leverage on the job, it may be staffing, it may be the margin, whatever the case may be. Using those tools we’re able to come up with really specific plans that we’re then working with all of our managing directors to drive those down a level that most firms really haven’t had visibility into, and we’re coming up with real plans on how to improve our business. Our guys have really bought into this.”
CBIZ is a publicly traded company that is affiliated with the CPA firm Mayer Hoffman McCann. MHM, as an independent firm, performs audit, attest and review services. CBIZ also offers an array of financial services, but for right now it’s using Insight2Profit for its accounting and tax clients.
“On a very granular level, account by account, we’re looking at all the accounts that make up our practices, benchmarking one account against another to see what’s going well on one that’s not perhaps going as well on another, and how we can improve upon it, with the end goal of being able to provide the most efficient and high-quality service that we can for our clients,” said Tracy Gallagher, managing director at CBIZ MHM.
CBIZ has been getting into the private equity area with its acquisition last year of CMF Associates and this year of Laurus Transaction Advisors, two consulting firms that cater to PE firms. But despite Insight2Profit’s focus on the private equity space, Spurio said CBIZ has been using the technology for all kinds of clients, not just PE firms.
“We’re planning on using this for all of our clients, but right now our focus has been on more of our core business, our traditional accounting and tax practice,” said Spurio. “That’s what we started with and that’s what our focus has been, but ultimately this tool is applicable to all of our lines of business.”
“It’s analyzing all of our client work, basically looking at the practice management information that we have available on all of our service lines,” said Tim Perdion, vice president of the practice management office at CBIZ. “We are taking the tools that they have and applying them to our internal accounting business, independent of what kind of business our clients are in.”
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