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10 Essential Project Management Principles for Accounting Firms

men juggling on a plain, black and grey

Every accounting firm struggles with project management, with smaller practices that are rapidly expanding taking the brunt of the damage. As your firm adds new clients, takes on more work, and hires additional employees, old-school project management processes can quickly become obsolete.

However, all is not lost! There are proven strategies that can guide your project management toward efficiency and success—although, it took some serious digging for us to find them. We’ve scoured the archives of time-tested accounting wisdom to share with you these 10 valuable insights.

Legend has it…

As we explored the accounting myths of old, we stumbled onto an ancient tome—the EAAP (Eternally Accepted Accounting Principles.) It was there we discovered this relevant tale:

In the days before project management, Accountant was overwrought with anguish. His team scrambled from one task to another, missing deadlines with abandon. Accountant’s clients grew impatient, lashing out with mighty tirades of passive-aggressive rage.

Left with no other options, Accountant chose to scale the cliffs of Mount § 509(a). According to legend, reaching the peak would provide great wisdom—but it was a journey from which no CPA had ever returned.

Accountant climbed for 65 hours over seven days, comforted only by his state’s generous laws on overtime pay. As Accountant reached the mountain’s peak, the Mage of Numbers appeared, and spoke in a booming voice:

“You have conquered the mountain! To reward your tenacity and willingness to work on weekends, I now pass on to you the secrets of project management for accounting firms. Listen well, for I shall only speak them once.”

And Accountant, who had long forsaken cardio as was thus totally spent, replied, “Could you maybe just put them in an email?”

Read on to discover the 10 principles Accountant learned that day. Along the way, we’ll offer commentary from Going Concern and our friends at Firm360 to provide further insight.

1. Preparation is key

Let’s get this straight: winging it is fine for karaoke night, not for managing multiple accounting projects. Plan it, map it, put it on a spreadsheet—or better yet, use proper project management software. Just don’t go in blind.

2. Respect your deadlines

Or else they will come back to haunt you, like a restless spirit demanding a tax refund. Treat deadlines with the utmost importance; they’re foundational to project success and healthy client relationships.

3. Maintain project integrity

You know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men? We don’t, either, but scope creep can be a real problem. So do everything you can to keep your scope intact. Anything extra gets billed, discussed, and properly managed.

4. Stay true to your projections

Be realistic with your project estimates. Claiming you can do a full-scale audit in a week is not optimism; it’s an invitation for apocalypse.

5. Value your team

Your team is your most valuable resource, so treat them more like your TI-86 and less like those plastic blue solar calculators with faded displays they handed out in school. Proper communication and clear task allocation are essential to making your team feel valued and motivated.

6. Remember the weekend

All work and no play makes Jack a disgruntled accountant. Treat work/life balance seriously, and ensure your team always has time for a weekend mimosa or two.

7. Prioritize projects effectively

Before you drool over a new project, make sure your current ones are manageable. “Project FOMO” can lead to bad decisions, stressed teams, and unhappy clients.

8. Equip your team with the right tools

In the sage words of Clay Lehman, Head of Product at Firm360: “Managing projects without the proper technology is like letting a horse direct traffic. No one can get where they need to go except by sheer luck or coincidence, and it’s only a matter of time before a nasty pileup occurs.”

9. Monitor your progress

“Set it and forget it” did wonders for Ron Popeil, but it’s a terrible project management strategy. Across all your projects, you should monitor progress, measure results, and optimize processes based on the insights you uncover.

10. Learn from mistakes

We’re all human—and if you’re not, how are you reading this and will you come to our next party?—so mistakes are inevitable. When things go south, be sure to learn, adapt, and determine what steps you can take to avoid making the same error again.

Unlock efficiency with Firm360

Firm360 makes following these principles easier than solving the $100 clue on Celebrity Baby Jeopardy (“What is ‘goo’?”). With robust project management features designed specifically for accounting firms, Firm360 allows you to know what your team is working on and track their efficiency with ease.

Firm360 also simplifies handing off tasks between team members, seamlessly integrates with email from Office365 and Google, and sets you on course to never miss a client deadline again.

Best of all, Firm360 removes the need to endlessly pivot between project management software and other tools. It’s a true all-in-one platform, combining client management, project management, document management, time and billing, and advanced reporting into a single solution.

Say goodbye to chaos and hello to managed success by trying Firm360 today.

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About Firm360
If your accounting firm has ever wanted a magic wand that can turn a project management mess into a paradise of productivity, Firm360 is the ‘abra cadabra’ you’ve been waiting for. Designed by accountants, for accountants, it offers everything from project management to document management and even time and billing capabilities. Try Firm360—and leap into the future of accounting today.