- Conduct an analysis of your firm.
- Define goals and objectives for your firm.
- Select strategic partners.
- Engage directly with the LP to determine the scope and nature of the specific services required.
- Step 1: Conduct an Analysis.
The first step in establishing a strategic alliance is to develop a solid understanding of your firm statistics and your client demographics. Basic demographic information is essential to any long‐term plan for establishing a strategic alliance. Always be prepared when discussing your firm, especially with a larger firm. They know their statistics and will ask you yours.
The SAAA Management of an Accounting Practice Survey (MAP Survey) is a great place to start.
- Step 2: Define Goals and Objectives.
Now that you have become acquainted with the statistical side of your firm, the time for self‐examination is here. You will need to perform a SWOT analysis of your firm, meaning that you should look at the firm’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The formation of any long‐term plan requires buy‐in from all parties. Involve everyone in the process from partners to administrative staff. Whether you are a sole owner or a partner in a firm, it is critical to know where you are going.
Only through self‐examination can you decide where you are and where you would like to be.
Be honest with yourself. Write down your short‐ and long‐term plans. Start a dialog, and make a decision to change.
The SAIBA Guide on Creating a One Page Strategic Plan can help.
Once you’ve analyzed your firm and defined your goals and objectives, you are now prepared to begin the process of forming strategic alliances to fulfill your goals with a plan in mind.
An alliance without a plan is just a work‐sharing arrangement that will not benefit both parties involved. If both parties to an alliance do not recognize a benefit, the alliance will fail.
- Step 3: Select Strategic Partners.
Your choice of strategic partners is critical. How do you begin to seek out firms that you can associate with on a long‐term basis?
One of the best ways is to get involved. Several suggestions for developing your peer network by getting involved were provided earlier. Typically, firms that are actively involved are forward thinkers who may be open to just such an arrangement. You may already be acquainted with these firms and simply need to start a dialog.
You can impose many criteria in determining which firm will provide the best match for you and your clients. Issues such as billing rates, location, experience, and range of services are all important.
Nothing, however, is more important than the firm’s philosophy and culture.
Every practitioner has a personal style that his or her clients are comfortable with. That is why they are your clients. If you are going to directly or indirectly expose your clients (your largest asset) to another CPA firm, you need to be sure they will service your client with the same care and temperament as you. Spend lots of time with the partners and key staff of any firm with whom you choose to form a long‐term alliance.
What is their firm philosophy? Are they quality people? Do you trust them to be professional with your clients? Will they respect your firm and work collaboratively?
Think of yourself as the end client and screen them as you would any other professional. Make sure that its goals in forming the alliance are in sync with yours.
SAIBA has take some of the above initiatives and identified Mazars as a firm that will respect the SAIBA-SMP relationship as well as the SMP-Client relationship. It reamins your choice if you want to work with the SAIBA Strategic Alliance.
You have to consider if the SAIBA Strategic Alliance will be able to achieve your goals and objectives, If this is your choise then sign a letter of understanding between SAIBA, the LP, and your firm.
We recommend that you start small. Bring an Advisory Firm in on a special project or perhaps just on a single tax issue. This will establish a tone for how future engagements will evolve. The best of marriages begin with a courtship.