Doing a tax season after action review and our new superhero animation video

Abby the AccountantNow that the initial tax deadline is past us, it’s a good time to take a look back to see how things went and how they can be done better.  This is called an after action review, and it’s not the same as a de-brief or a post-mortem.  It’s a great tool for large companies, and small businesses can benefit too.

After Action Review

An after action review is a fantastic process to help you look back at a project or period of your business to see what, why, and how things occurred and how they can be improved for the future.  Taking a profit-focused view will help you get the most out of the idea.

The AAR provides you with a bit more formal process than a passing “hmm, how did we do this season?” conversation in the hall.  For example, if you planned your client retention rate to be 90% and your rate was 85%, you may want to take a look at why that happened.  Doing exit interviews or a survey with discontinuing clients can help to explain the five percent variation.

Continuing the example, once you have done the interviews, you may have some ideas for improvement.  It might be to automate some communication, increase turnaround time, add more time for explanations, or something else.  Let’s say you got sick last year and lost some clients because your turnaround during that time was not good.  This year, you can put a sick plan in place to call on a peer to help you out so your service does not suffer.


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The AAR requires an open mind and you will need to accept responsibility.  One of the key benefits of the AAR is increased accountability.  The core questions to ask yourself and your team include:

  • What was supposed to happen?
  • What did happen?
  • What worked?  What should we keep doing?
  • What didn’t work?  What are some improvements?
  • What advice would you give yourself at the beginning of tax season?
  • What personal lessons did you learn?

Even if you don’t offer taxes or your year is not seasonal, you can use the AAR as a way to improve your business.  Take a look at your first four months of performance this year.  Are you on track?  What improvements do you need to make for next year that you can work on over the summer and fall?  Some opportunities to use the AAR include:

  • Technology changes / additions or training
  • Staffing changes
  • Hiring process changes
  • Marketing changes / additions or training
  • Practice management changes / additions or training
  • New service development / new niches
  • Changes in your existing services
  • Client retention
  • Sales cycle changes or development
  • Pricing evaluations
  • Client surveys / communications / service level changes

The good thing about the AAR is you can make it as formal or informal as you want.  You can invite your team or do it yourself, although you’re going to need an open, unbiased mind.  Try it in your business, and let me know what you think.

Animation Video

So we had a little fun over your busy season (which is the opposite of our seasons).  Marjory, our resident web designed and social media guru, is an animation artist, so we created the Story of Abby the Accountant.  We hope you like super-heros as much as we do:

Let us know what you think.