[IMGCAP(1)]In every firm, there is room for improvement. Firm leaders learn this each year as we move into that final week of tax season, when what can go wrong often does. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Through mishaps and stumbles we learn lessons, and firms dedicated to continual improvement take the time to enhance processes so those same mishaps don’t get repeated.

Below is a list of the top lessons and epiphanies many firms experienced this year:

•    Lists, databases and workflow tools are only valuable if everyone updates them every time an update is required.

•    Work gets done accurately and in a timely manner only if there is consistent and open communication between firm leaders, staff and clients. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

•    Sometimes it’s okay to change an established process in order to delight a client. In fact, you might be surprised by an employee’s suggestion, so keep your ears open to new ideas.

•    While advanced technology is awesome, it’s always best to have a smart, organized person on call to handle issues.

•    Whether a client makes you happy or miserable…it’s your choice. Are you making good choices?

•    Certain team members will show their true colors during the final week of tax season. Consider whether you want those employees on your team next year.

•    The firm is leading you instead of you leading the firm. It may be time for a hard look at processes, staff and clientele to ensure your firm is operating the way you want it to.

•    Follow-through is a must!

Despite the typical chaos of tax season, somehow everything always gets done—or extended. Take some time post-season to rethink processes, evaluate workflow, and implement improvements to ensure next year runs smoother. Start your lessons learned list today.

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. She can be reached at www.newvisioncpagroup.com.