Be in the Know

“Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it.”
-Chip & Dan Heath

As practitioners, we spend our days helping clients achieve greater success by taking a closer look at their businesses. For it is here we bring extensive value by enabling them to: 

  • See things they might not normally see
  • Gain new perspectives
  • Discover solutions to ongoing challenges
  • Uncover new paths toward success

While we are busy helping clients gain clearer perspectives, it’s easy to miss out on valuable insight that can help us run our own practices more successfully. Important information that can:

  • Provide a more accurate picture of how we stack up against the competition
  • Zero in on areas where we are falling short
  • Highlight new trends that impact how we remain competitive 

Good news, busy practitioners! There is a comprehensive tool out there to help you with all of this and more. It’s the AICPA PCPS/ 2016 National Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) Survey and it’s loaded with powerful data that you and your colleagues can easily put to use in your own practice. Perhaps you have heard of this survey but are not familiar with what is behind it all. That is why we are going to take a closer look and highlight specifics to help move your firm forward. 

What Is the MAP Survey?

First things first – what is the MAP survey? It is a benchmarking tool that examines key performance indicators firms use to run their practices and position them for the future. We are talking about critical practice management indicators that resonate with firm leaders. Ones that make it possible to compare your practice’s financial performance and operations to other firms of all sizes across the nation.

Consider these details about the MAP survey: 

It is a management benchmarking tool for CPA firms across the country

  • The survey has been biennial (every other year) since 2004
  • It is the largest benchmarking/MAP survey for CPA firms, with almost 2,000 participants in 2014
  • Dynamic Benchmarking LLC is the third party vendor who administers and hosts the interactive survey platform
  • New this year, is the opportunity for firms to opt-in for consideration in the annual rankings of the INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) Top 100, 200 or 300 lists of the largest firms in the country.
  • PCPS works with a majority of state societies, AON and the CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA), providing state and regional reports to the supporting organizations

What Is In It for You and Your Firm?

With a crazy hectic schedule, you might be wondering if it is worth your time to participate in the MAP survey since it’s estimated the survey can take from one to three hours to complete.  For starters, your participation allows you and your colleagues to tap into a comprehensive database of information that you can measure your own practice against. This database is one that you can easily access from the comfort of your office to check out findings that are most important to you and your firm. Inside you will find almost 300 data points and key performance metrics such as:

  • Major income statement statistics
  • Billing rates
  • Salaries
  • Hours charged/compensated
  • Services as a percentage of fees

Even better, you can compare your practice against same-sized firms regionally and nationally as well as other sized firms and industry leaders.

Every firm that participates will receive a complimentary personalized report in September containing:

  • Statistical analysis
  • Valuable ratios
  • Staffing stats
  • Owner-Partner stats
  • Compensation and benefits offerings
  • Latest technology trends affecting the profession
  • Insight into how firms are leveraging staff in the current economy

One of the best things about participating in this survey is that it is free. That’s right. Free!

P.S. If you’re not a PCPS member, you can receive a personalized comprehensive report and gain access to the dynamic online filtering within the platform by joining PCPS for a nominal fee.

How Can You and Your Firm Use the Results?

Once armed with this data, you and your leadership team can put this knowledge to work in your practice. 

  1. Reassure management choices
    It is often difficult to know if you are making the right management decisions. In areas where your results are stronger than those of similar size firms the survey provides reassurance about your firm’s management decisions.
  2. Identify where new approaches are needed
    Often we think that our firm is heading in the right direction when in fact new paths forward are needed. So in areas where your firm is falling behind others in the same size range, survey comparisons alert you to where new approaches are necessary.
  3. Open new conversations
    Moving your firm forward involves starting new conversations. The MAP survey provides a starting place for new conversations. Talking points for discussions around emerging trends that deserve a closer look in your firm.
  4. Refine growth goals
    Growth is on the minds of many firms these days. If growth is on your agenda, results from slightly larger firms can help you and your team get a better handle on what you are aiming for and enable you to more clearly define your growth goals.

Are You Ready to Get Started?

If you and your firm are ready to get started, that is great news. The value of the benchmarks depends on broad participation among all sized CPA firms, which is why it's so important for your firm to take part. Your involvement in the survey will help you can gain a better understanding of how your practice stacks up against those in your region and across the country. Use the results to pinpoint where you are leading the way and where there’s still work to do. Once you do, know that you don’t have to do it alone. There are loads of PCPS resources that you and your colleagues can put to use to help your firm move forward.
To get started, access the survey at The platform will close to new participants on July 15 and all registered participants will have through July 31 to complete data entry.

Here’s to being in the know!