If you are looking to outsource your returns, there are a couple of critical things that you want to look at, a best practices framework, to be most successful. Number one is communication. Pull the partners, pull the partners and managers, pull the entire firm together and have an education seminar to talk about what are the benefits, what are the values, what are we getting out of this, how does it affect the firm and how does it affect the people within the firm. Probably the most important element to have that dialogue to make sure everyone understands it, how the firm is employing that strategy, whether it be simply as a tool to make the season a little bit smoother or a full strategy where you are going to outsource 50%, 60%, 70% of your returns at some point so you can continue focus on the highest elements. That’s probably the number one best piece of advice.
Number two is you get started. It’s very easy to put off till tomorrow what can happen today, and just starting whether it be 100 or 200 returns is critical so you learn and understand the process. Once people understand the process, the value, the benefits, it becomes much easier, and then in year two and year three you continue to grow and expand that strategy. But the biggest challenge we all face is why do today what can wait till tomorrow? And they need to just stop the process and look at it, and then third is to really look at the technology around it and who is doing that. If you don’t have the right people in the right jobs, you are not going to be as successful. So looking at the questions, that unstructured data, is it a partner’s job to look at those questions to go back to a client or is it a manager’s? Those are some of the questions you want to ask and ask those early before the season starts so when you are getting into the season you have got a formalized strategy, an execution plan that everyone understands and can follow.