The 2012 National MAP (Management of an Accounting Practice) Survey, conducted by the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section and the Texas Society of CPAs, allows CPAs to benchmark their firms against their peers, an exercise that can identify areas—and processes—for improvement. To best use the MAP results, CPAs should do the following:
Review the 2012 MAP results. Member firms that completed the survey should have received a report comparing their financial results to those of firms of similar size and located in the same geographical region. Firms that did not participate in the survey can download the national results at aicpa.org/pcps/MAP2012.
Firms looking to grow their practice should compare their results to the average for firms in the next size range tracked by the survey. For example, firms with annual revenues of $1.5 million to $5 million should compare their results to those of firms in the $5 million to $10 million range and ask the following questions:
- On average, how many full-time equivalent employees does it take to manage at that level?
- What is the service mix for the average firm at that level?
- What are P&L and net fees per partner ratios at that level?
Determine the financial or practice management concerns of greatest importance in your practice and look for the largest difference between your results and the comparative data. Focus on ways to improve areas where your firm falls short. Contact practitioners at other firms in your size category or on the next rung of the ladder. Ask questions about how to boost performance. The PCPS offers networking groups by firm size, which provide great venues to make contacts and gather feedback. Several state societies also have chapters and groups that meet regularly.
Once you have identified areas for improvement, rank them in order of importance. Then work to implement the changes at the level and pace you find most comfortable.
Appoint an internal firm champion to follow through in each area. While sole practitioners are the only ones who can make the changes in their practices, they can study the results in small groups with other sole practitioners and discuss ways to improve. Larger firms should identify one or two internal champions to discuss what the firm should do differently to get to the next level. The analysis should complement the firm’s strategic planning.
Conduct regular update sessions to monitor how initiatives are proceeding. Put an improvement team together to hold one another accountable within the firm.
Participate in the 2014 MAP Survey. The Institute realizes you are busy, but participation in the biennial poll provides PCPS member firms access to a management tool that can be used to run what-if analyses based on proposed improvements. If you start now to plan ways to improve your success measures, you may experience a more fruitful busy season. Good luck!
Editor’s note: For a first look at the MAP results, see “2012 MAP Survey: A snapshot.”
—By Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, (firstname.lastname@example.org) vice president–Firm Services & Global Alliances for the AICPA.