Inefficiencies were plentiful in Marcussen Consulting’s billing and client work processes — until Accelo facilitated a profitable reduction in both costs and clients.
Marcussen Consulting is a specialist tax consultancy based in Bath, England. Since 2001, they have been helping ambitious entrepreneurs solve complex tax issues and navigate the uncertainties of launching and growing a business, while delivering insights that go well beyond taxes alone.
In 2019, Managing Partner David Marcussen and his team realized they needed to address their own problem. While there was plenty of work coming in the door, leadership was in the dark about whether projects and clients were profitable and how much they should be charging.
Like many professional services businesses lacking the right tools and insights, the consultancy was simply treading water instead of moving forward.
The Marcussen Consulting team was using multiple platforms, none of which spoke well to one another: IRIS for timesheets, Sage for accounting, Microsoft Dynamics CRM for sales opportunities and several others. Despite having a range of tools, they were engaging in too many manual processes.
David describes the “big drama” of billing clients each month.
“There were probably four people involved in raising a single invoice to a client — horribly inefficient,” he says. “We thought surely there had to be a solution to bring all of their roles together.”
Things were similarly disorderly in everyday communications with clients. Administrative staff would manually save a PDF of every email in each client’s digital file, which wasted time and resulted in inconsistent and confusing records.
Most crucially, David says he could never dig up accurate data about where the business stood. He especially wanted to know about employee utilization and the types of work that generated profits.
Frustrated, the team began searching for a platform that could help them consolidate essential functions and generate meaningful reports.
Accelo offered the resource management and automation they needed. Although David wasn’t the ultimate decision maker, he says the platform’s unmatched visibility made it attractive to Marcussen Consulting’s leadership.
Onboarding was relatively simple. The combination of training with Accelo’s implementation team and not being afraid to learn by doing got the business off to a running start.
A lot of big changes ensued quickly.
A few staff members who were attached to the manual processes and unwilling to embrace digital transformation decided to leave the company. But because of features like Accelo’s Activity Stream, David says their roles didn’t need to be backfilled.
“The email capture is super valuable because it’s easily searchable,” he explains. “With that, we found we needed no support staff at all.”
Automated time tracking and utilization reports confirmed that the team’s hours started transitioning to billable work and that it wasn’t necessary to hire yet. This “reliable, reconcilable, flexible data” is David’s favorite feature of Accelo. He loves that it became easy to spot inaccuracies or potential issues.
Marcussen Consulting has also automated the tasks required for anti-money laundering compliance in the UK. They simply set up a project with a set of triggers for automatic reminders to send regular engagement letters to clients.
And the four-person invoicing job? That’s now done by one person in a couple of clicks, thanks to Accelo’s integration with Xero.
Recalling how “people-heavy” the business was before adopting Accelo, David is thrilled at how smoothly they’ve transitioned to maintaining high-quality work with fewer people.
In three years, Marcussen Consulting has increased productivity by at least 20% and profitability by 93%.
The aforementioned billing struggle now takes just one day a month instead of six, saving the business 40 hours per month.
David attributes these impressive results to implementing across-the-board automation and using profitability data from Accelo to apply the 80/20 rule: They realized that 80% of their income was coming from only about 20% of their clients. “Breaking up” with the clients that weren’t profitable reduced their client base from 300 to 150 and then, finally, to a core 50.
He describes this process as “getting rid of all the noise.” Now, the team enjoys strong relationships with clients who appreciate their work and don’t question their fees.
Accelo has enabled us to very clearly identify the types of clients and work that make money. As a result, it’s contributed to massive changes in the landscape of the business.
David Marcussen, Managing Partner
Having refined the administrative side of the business, Marcussen Consulting will be looking to bring on more team members, whose roles will now be focused and largely billable. David anticipates new hire training will be simple with Accelo.
He advises other business leaders considering the platform to “just jump in,” because the upfront leap and potentially uncomfortable changes will be worth it in the end.