No matter what size your accounting firm happens to be, you could benefit from drafting an organization chart. These charts delineate who works where, and for whom, and give everybody a clear idea about the lines of communication and which responsibilities lie where. For accountants, people temperamentally suited to bringing order out of chaos, drafting a big chart that marks off how accounting functions get done at the firm is inherently satisfying. That said, how do you go about drafting one of these things?
There are basically two types of org charts. If you run a small practice, you’re better off with the simpler of the two: a hierarchical chart. This is organized as a simple chain-of-command roster with you at the head, your second-in-command immediately below, the lower-down employees after that, and so on.
To picture this, imagine you run your firm yourself, but the place is big enough to have specialists in payroll, audits, and tax filing. On your organization chart, you are listed first, followed by your spouse, who helps run the business and manages the office, followed by the department heads, and then their junior analysts, admin staff, etc., until you get to the intern who makes coffee. This approach shows clear and distinct reporting channels.
Bigger firms could do with a more complex form of org chart: the matrix, or cross-functional chart. This type isn’t so concerned about who’s in charge, though it can show that information too, but it does define accounting responsibilities to minimize confusion. This is especially useful for parsing the complex web of entanglements big firms get when they’re full-service providers.
Going back to the previous example, imagine your tax filing department has a client who’s being audited by the Canada Revenue Agency. Clearly it’s best for your auditing department to step in and help, but things will work best with lots of input from the colleagues in the tax department who know this client inside and out. Without a matrix, confusion could seep in as to who is directing the audit prep and who is coordinating with the client. With a matrix, this is just another project to tackle during tax season.
Keeping track of your practice is easier with an organization chart. Pick the type that works for you, and make sure you keep it updated as employees come and go.