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The importance of engagements in guarding against scope creep

Rebecca Mihalic unpacks how managing your scope & engagements through crisis can mitigate your risk
YOUR BUSINESS 3 mins 28 Jul 2021 by Rebecca Mihalic
Are you currently undertaking additional grant work? Are your scope and engagements up to date to mitigate your practice’s risk of scope creep?

Properly managing your scope and engagements through crisis can mitigate your risk.

We must face the stark reality of our current landscape in Australia. Until our leaders find a better way to deal with Covid19, our immediate future will be one of snap lockdowns and business interruptions.

So what does that mean for us, the accountants and bookkeepers that heroed our clients and saved the economy in 2020? It means that we will continue to face a constant stream of scope interruptions and the accompanying exposure this causes if we are not properly engaged to help our clients through difficult times.

Effectively managing scope creep keeps us protected

When we consider the grant work many of us have done, and lots of us are doing right now in NSW, we need to acknowledge that it is all scope creep. We don't know in advance when these lockdowns will occur and can’t possibly include managing the grants that follow them in our annual engagements. This means that providing these services requires us to do one of two things:

  • Send out an updated engagement that includes the additional work and get sign off from clients before starting, or

  • Just jump in and do the work, taking on all responsibilities without any protection.

As you can imagine, I am not a fan of the second option, that's not to say I haven't been guilty of this in the past - which is why I know it's not what we should be doing. Every time I followed option 2 in the past, I regretted it.

Why is a new engagement especially important for grant work

This grant work is unique and usually has no precedent, and the detail is something that clients are unlikely to be across. The work we are doing right now with NSW business grants and the JobSaver scheme is full of detailed terms and conditions that have real implications that need to be brought to our clients’ attention and signed off.

These items include eligibility criteria, grant payment details and risk of audit. But most importantly, if you undertake the actual lodgement of these grant applications for your clients, you are signing a declaration that you agree with the terms and conditions of the grant. Shouldn't you also ensure your clients take on this responsibility and confirm that they understand their obligations and provide true and accurate information?

A new or updated engagement is the perfect opportunity to protect yourself when providing these services to your clients by:

  • Getting sign off on terms and conditions

  • Getting authority to prepare/lodge the grant application

  • Pricing the services and get agreement on the cost (if you choose to charge).

Using tech to make it happen quickly

Don't get me wrong, I know how daunting that all sounds, especially when we have clients in desperate need of the funds who are looking to us to help them quickly. This is where your technology becomes important, and the ability to use a tool to swiftly send out a templated engagement to clients with everything they need and to have it electronically signed off and returned so you can start the job quickly.

Even better, if that tool talks to your workflow solution so that when an engagement is accepted, a job is created in your workflow tool, and no clients fall through the cracks. It's all about a better way to help your clients and safeguard your own business.

How can Ignition help you

As an existing Ignition user — to help you stay compliant and protected — you can now access 9 new service items and 3 new engagement templates for:

  • Covid19 NSW Business Grant

  • Covid19 NSW Micro-Business Grant

  • JobSaver Scheme

For more information contact success@ignitionapp.com or your account manager.

If you are not an Ignition user yet, you can try it for free and gain exclusive access to our templates to better manage your scope and engagement, protect your practice, and mitigate risk.

Start your 14 day free trial today

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Meet the author

Rebecca Mihalic

Head of Accounting (APAC) at Ignition and Director  businessDEPOT

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Published 28 Jul 2021 Last updated 02 Nov 2022
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