Jessica Barnas (nee Hall), Partner, outlines how Klein Hall, a Chicago-based accounting services provider and family business, prioritized its people to become more productive and efficient in the lead up to its successful acquisition by Wipfli, one of the top 20 accounting firms in the United States.
Excerpt: This article was originally published in CPA Advisor – read the full article. (Link)
Better resource allocation
I mentioned that Klein Hall was looking to prepare itself for the world of emerging technologies. Back in 2015, we were a team of 30 and one of the ways we decided to approach the use of technology was to improve our efficiency. Data entry and bookkeeping are part of the job description, but in the US, like many other developed nations, clients had heard about the potential of automation, and believed the technology to be a decade more mature than its practical application at the time. It’s true we could harness it to fuel insights which provide the additional value we aim for with clients, but at the time, a lot of our team’s time was still occupied by long and arduous hours of back-office work. To be able to focus on more creative value-adds, we needed another way.
Following our directors’ in-person interviews with a number of Business Process Outsourcing providers, or BPOs as they are known, Klein Hall partnered with Cloudstaff, a remote working resource in the Philippines. Recognized as one of the top three ICT businesses nationally, Cloudstaff assisted in recruiting the right talent to join our accounting team. They also had capabilities beyond accounting, which was ideal to be able to accommodate our future expansion plans.
Our “Cloudstaffers” have demonstrated incredible loyalty to us, with us maintaining a 76 percent retention rate since 2016. Starting out with four in the Philippines office, we’ve since grown the team to 12 full-time accountants who do month-end accounting processes (bank reconciliation, accounts receivable/payable reporting, preparing financial statements, monitoring fixed assets, etc) as well as weekly bookkeeping (recording of invoices/bills/payroll journal entries and processing payroll). This has allowed our team in the Chicago office to focus more on financial planning and creative problem-solving for our clients, which ultimately means we can deliver more value to our clients. As a result, we’ve increased our revenue by 60 percent year on year while working with the additional overseas team.