Taking businesses to the next level

DFK Hirn Newey
Paul Fiumara, Partner

Paul Fiumara, Partner at DFK Hirn Newey, has been with the firm since 1982 - 35 of the firm’s 40-year existence. With a passion for systems, technology, and making client’s lives easier, Paul splits his time between improving internal systems for the firm and advising customers. Always having a talent for connecting disconnected systems and eliminating manual data entry for clients, Paul has been able to create mutual efficiencies for DFK Hirn Newey and for those whom they service. Keeping on top of new technologies and trends, Paul has ensured DFK Hirn Newey continues to push forward as an industry leader and innovator and encourages other firms to do the same.

A bit about DFK Hirn Newey

DFK Hirn Newey, a fully cloud firm, is a leading accounting and business advisory practice based in Brisbane, Australia. The firm acts as a bridge between regulators and clients while maximizing value by utilizing cloud products and creating efficiencies. DFK Hirn Newey services businesses that have outgrown their previous stage and are at a point that they need to reestablish themselves. The firm works with these clients to build a great foundation that meets their unique needs and enables the business to go where they want to go.

The Problem

Before implementing Practice Ignition, the majority of DFK Hirn Newey’s engagements with clients were recurring. As they have always maintained a happy and loyal customer base, the firm took a casual approach to these renewals - manually creating a job, doing the job, and finally billing the client for the job done. This far-from-formal process led to inconsistent, disconnected, and general engagements.

Paul mandated to his team that no matter how small a job may be, that they must formalize every single engagement/job. He realized that an engagement sets an expectation between the firm and the client and greatly determines the success or failure of a job. As this was done using Word documents, the staff were apprehensive and even a bit nervous about this new company rule. The process was manual and tedious, leading to the required engagements being completed without much attention or care - they were done simply to satisfy the requirement.

Paul set out to search for a tool that would formalize, standardize, digitize, and streamline DFK Hirn Newey’s engagement process. He needed a system that the staff could easily adopt and implement and one that would enable the firm to move into offering a better fixed-fee structure. Most importantly, Paul needed this tool to clearly, professionally, and thoughtfully reflect the job that would be performed by the firm, to the client.

The Fix

During his search for a digital engagement tool, Paul discovered Practice Ignition, a tool that ticked all the boxes he was searching for. DFK Hirn Newey’s staff were open, accepting, and eager to implement this new application, as it would make the required engagements a stress-free process and strengthen the relationships they had with their clients. This immediate acceptance of the program by the staff was surprising to Paul, as he would usually have to convince the others that a new system would be best for them and the firm.

Practice Ignition fitted well within the systems the firm already had in place and created connections to tools they were using. Their new process looks like this:

A staff member prepares an engagement in Practice Ignition using a standard template with predefined services and pricing. The client information pulls through from Xero Practice Manager (XPM) and once approved gets issued to the client electronically. The client then receives a DFKHN branded email containing an online link to the engagement and is given the option to ask any question regarding the proposal - communication that is managed within Practice Ignition. Once the client accepts the engagement online and enters their payment information for invoicing, the Partner is immediately notified, and the job is automatically created within XPM. At this point, the Partner is notified the job is in the system, and the work begins. Once the job is completed and despatched, an invoice is generated automatically by Practice Ignition, which gets pushed through to Xero, and the funds get deposited directly into the firm’s bank account.

This new process has not only created efficiencies within the firm by allowing people to work smarter, not harder, but has also established a peace-of-mind for the entire staff. An engagement process that used to be tedious, manual, and stressful is now expedited and simple. More than that, because the firm does not commence working on a job until the engagement (including price) is agreed upon, billing has become a breeze when it was once a time that would make staff uncomfortable and nervous. No longer do they sit by the phone awaiting a call from a client that may bring pricing into question after the job has been completed. Because everything has been agreed upon up front, DFK Hirn Newey has not had any disputes regarding price charged for an accepted engagement since the implementation of Practice Ignition - a benefit that was unexpected and priceless.

Paul's Pro Tip

Create engagements with the client in mind. Take the time to make the engagement right. Ensure everything is clear and covers even the smallest details so that it creates clarity for the client and answers questions they didn’t even know they had. If you get it right, in the beginning, you stand the best possible chance of having the entire engagement going well for all parties.

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