Two (more) Cheers for Gary Boomer

I’ve commented in the past about Gary Boomer’s columns in Accounting Today, sometimes being accused of unfairly singling out Gary as opposed to the other consultants to the CPA profession.

We at VeraSage enjoy watching people wrestle with significant issues, especially when they challenge long-held views of the way the world works. Gary continues to do so with his recent article in the October 6-19, 2008 issue of Accounting Today entitled “The future of IT in professional service firms.”

The opening sentence is shot across the bow for those who think efficiency is the talisman of running a successful professional knowledge firm:

Exploiting technology to create new business value now trumps efficiency as the chief focus of information technology. Leadership and governance of IT in your firm must change in order to exploit new opportunities.

Excellent point! It’s way beyond the time to stop focusing PKFs on efficiency. It’s time to focus on effectiveness, as we’ve written extensively elsewhere.

Gary goes on to lay out a five-point plan, which includes this gem in number 4 that will be familiar to readers of VeraSage:

Assign a chief value officer and a pricing task force. Centralize pricing and take it out of the hands of those who are not good at it. Implement strong engagement letters, including change-order clauses. Don’t be afraid to collect in advance.

But the reason for only two cheers for Gary is he still insists on being silent on the timesheet issue, even though he states emphatically in the article that “…the economic model (hours x dollars) is broken, and has been for many years.”

Does anyone but us see the connection between this and timesheets? If you want to fix that model, you have to stop tracking the one thing that perpetuates it—time.

Maybe this is simply too hard for consultants to preach to their customers? But if you want to implement Gary’s fourth point—which is not at all easy, by the way—how can we not replace timesheets with KPIs, After Action Reviews, and sound project management?

The same issue of Accounting Today also has an article by August Aquila, wherein he outlines the changes accounting firms have to embrace today. The third on his list is knowledge workers.

Well, knowledge workers don’t want to fill out timesheets in six minute increments, be micromanaged, account for every potty break and personal phone call. Knowledge workers aren’t union employees who merely “put in the time.” They create wealth through ideas, creativity, and innovation.

Timesheets are a form of negative intellectual capital.

Come on, Gary, make our day. Write a column on the deleterious effects of timesheets.


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