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VIEWPOINT: Judged Within a Blink

Can accountants afford to sit on client books for months?

Go to the dentist and you are likely to be out in less than 30 minutes. Take your car in for a service and you will probably have it back by the end of the day. Take your books and records to the accountant and you will have the job completed … when it is finished! While some firms plan to turn jobs around in a month, others make no commitment other than to do the job as soon as possible.

The fact that average firm lock-up is somewhere in the 100 day region confirms that many firms are not performing timely work and neither are they being paid in a timely way. This 20th century model is broken and needs fixing. How? It all starts with mission, vision, planning, commitment and execution. Let’s look at one firm’s records.

Let’s look at five typical jobs from one of my client’s offices and identify how long it took to complete the work compared to the total time the records were available to work on. As you can see these five jobs were in the firm’s control for 210 days and were left unworked on for 131 days.

Overall these five jobs were worked on for 37% of that time. Why should this be? I am reluctant to give an answer to this question, but I think a benchmark should be established and everyone aware that timeliness is a really important issue.

We are not prepared to wait in a doctor or dentist’s waiting room for more than 15 minutes before we become a little fidgety. We certainly don’t like being without our car for a routine service for more than a day – maybe two. A timely service means the books can be returned earlier and the service paid for quicker. If you don’t redefine your focus and set targets, then nothing is going to change. ❐


Time to Complete Work in The Office



job available to start


job completed

Days in our control

Hours to complete

Days to complete

% time on job



 1 February

28 March







 15 February

 18 March







 28 February

 23 March







 2 March

 14 April







 6 April

 2 June








Author: Mark Lloydbottom is an author and consultant at Mark Lloydbottom Consulting.