He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. No, it’s not Santa. It’s the managing partner. That’s not as catchy as having Santa in the lyric. And it’s not just the managing partner—It’s managers of all kinds within tax and accounting firms who are gaining greater control over their employees through workflow software.

If managers can see who has what returns, how long they have had them and what kind of information is left open, then managers have a greater ability to produce quality, measure quantity and reward staff members, or not, for their work. This, of course, goes beyond tax because it affects all professional work in accounting firm that can be monitored and measured.

Since software is converging, workflow and reporting applications are all going to put more power into the hands of managers. Returns can be distributed more evenly and redistributed if necessary. Who’s been bad or good is going to be easier to ascertain since the system tracks how long it takes preparers to do their job, and how well.

Firms should be able to link this to their time and billing/practice management applications and have the hours spent on the returns, or other work, captured more efficiently.

This should also make it easier to change compensation plans for the naughty and nice both and it should make it easier to defend compensation plans because performance can be measured more accurately since the workflow can be tracked. The ways things are going, firms may be measuring how accountants in the Philippines are performing, a threat that in itself that ought to have an impact of firms’ abilities to get their employees to do what they want. If nothing else, it will no longer be possible to hide by shutting your office door (or ducking low in your cubicle)  to escape scrutiny.  They'll know if you've been bad or good. Or snoozing.



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