The professional services company made its yearly audit planning and scheduling process less time-consuming while improving team communication, collaboration, and process visibility.
Professional services powerhouse FGMK had a problem: Dated processes and legacy tools were distracting the team from the work they do best— first-class client service.
With over 1,000 audit and financial statement reporting engagements in a year, and tens of thousands of information requests, FGMK was looking for a better way to handle communications and manage administrative requests related to these often manual processes done in a spreadsheet, word document, or an email thread. After running into accountability issues and versioning headaches, the team at FGMK knew there had to be a better way.
“We found that teams were spending a lot of time on the administrative part of an audit versus doing the actual client service, doing the actual value-added component that is why they're in the field,” says Michael Fernandez, Director of Quality Control at FGMK.
They needed a solution to help free up their employees from this manual, administrative burden by helping to streamline document intake and decrease the back and forth of email conversations. "We just needed to improve our data flow. We needed to improve our collaboration. We needed to improve our communication; internally and externally," says Fernandez.
“We viewed Smartsheet as something that could improve our own efficiency and cut out that manual labor-intensive process,” says Fernandez, “we’re able to use the notifications and the quick at-a-glance collaborative nature of the platform to get things done quicker, better, and to re-allocate our resources, too.”
“Nobody is Moving the Goal Post”
By eliminating repetitive questions and clarifying communication processes, FGMK has created a single source of truth in Smartsheet. They now have a transparent system of record that allows for real-time visibility of their audit processes across team members and clients alike, and can collaborate in real-time.
“There is very little miscommunication now, and I think our clients really appreciate it because they feel like information is up front, nobody is moving the goal post, so to speak. They know that what they see is what they get, and it allows them to really have a clear picture of what they need to do; so we can do what we need to do,” says Fernandez.
“I think that the level of collaboration and the transparency with our clients has been the biggest benefit that we've had, and the feedback that we’ve received thus far has been a testament to that. The reactions from our clients have been overwhelmingly positive. Not only are they appreciating the change in our processes, but they are recognizing that FGMK is continuously looking for ways to improve, looking for ways to innovate.”
A “Mind-Boggling” Process Overhaul
FGMK has dramatically decreased the time spent on its yearly audit planning and scheduling process, while maintaining the high level of effectiveness that they expect from their people, through consistent and collaborative tracking in Smartsheet. Using Gantt view, they can clearly see where their employees are running into scheduling conflicts, where there may be overbooking, and where there are potential gaps. This has allowed them to easily reallocate resources and ensure they are on track to meet deadlines.
“In the past, we had a scheduling meeting that was all of our partners, the scheduling department, and it took over a day. That's everybody with billable time working on an internal, administrative process,” says Fernandez. “This year, using Smartsheet and using Gantt view, we had our teams pre-populate some of this information, we knocked it down to myself and one other partner, and completed it in about three hours. That’s a significant amount of time that is taken out of admin, and redeployed to serving our clients!”
“When you think about the billable time that was saved and reallocated to client work, I mean, it's almost mind-boggling to think about how using one sheet we're able to do that, compared to how many hundreds of hours were run through last year,” says Fernandez.
The Tip of the Iceberg
With the flexibility to create custom workflows, gain real-time visibility into client requests lists, and continuously improve on processes through the use of feedback forms, FGMK has started to expand what they use Smartsheet for across their organization including their internal review process, which consisted of over 300 evaluations in just the first six months of use.
“Six to seven months later, we're already looking at how do we expand, how do we do more? Because as we get people more fluent internally, we feel like it's really just the tip of the iceberg. What had originally started as a tool to help our Audit and Accounting Practice gain efficiency has evolved into a valued platform for all of our practice areas, including our Entrepreneurial Services and Tax Practice. We envision a future where all of our professionals, across all service lines, are using Smartsheet to its fullest potential,” says Fernandez.
With the recent addition of Smartsheet Dynamic View, FGMK is discovering a new way to manage access, allowing for secure sharing of selective sheet information with both team members and clients, while ensuring that sensitive data remains secure and protected.
Source: Smartsheet Blog
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