On November 15, the Society in conjunction with advisor David Griffiths, Ph.D. and Cognitive Edge Ltd launched a landmark survey designed to benchmark the core competencies of CPAs in public accounting.  The SenseMaker® tool is a unique survey instrument that uses interactive diads and triads (or sliders) that survey participants use to answer questions related to seven core competencies.

No survey of this kind has ever been conducted.  In order to validate the data, at least 1,000 survey responses are needed.  If you are a CPA in public accounting, please take the time to complete this survey (and ask others to do so as well) — it is a critically important piece of the CPA Center of Excellence™ project and a very important measuring stick for the future of the profession.  For CPAs in business and industry, there will be a similar survey for you!

The following blog post was written by Ben Smith, CPA, CITP, CGMA and posted on The Smoke Detector last week. Ben is a co-chair of the INCPAS Knowledge Management Task Force and a member of the Fusion Network.  He participated on one of three task forces that created the core competency descriptors that are another big piece of the work we are doing, and his firm, Estep * Doctor & Co., P.C., in Muncie participated as one of six pilot firms in the advisory services also being offered as part of the CPA Center of Excellence™.

Please read Ben’s blog post below and complete the survey before it closes on January 15, 2014.  Thank you!

Does your firm usCoE_™_VertLogo_Rede benchmarking as a useful tool to measure performance?  If so, what are your measuring sticks?  If not, how are you measuring your firm and personal performance, by height? (sorry Caddyshack reference – I couldn’t resist).   My firm had the privilege of working with David Griffiths this past spring as a pilot firm for the advisory services and competency assessment scan that are part of the CPA Center of Excellence™, and what a privilege it was.

We found out things about ourselves, our client service, and our market that we had never thought of.   We also found out that we were doing an excellent job at many things and were very good in other areas.  We were able to get a benchmark of where we really are in personal and firm development and will now revisit this same process year after year to assure we are growing professionally the way we should.  My point here is that you’ve all heard the phrase “what you can measure, you can manage,” and you can manage to do a much better job as a CPA and professional advocate for your clients if you set proper benchmarks for yourself.

StudyAs you probably have heard, an exciting new study is being conducted by the Indiana CPA Society in conjunction with Cognitive Edge Ltd.  The CPA Core Competency Study powered by SenseMaker® launched in mid-November and will be open through January 15, 2014.  It is the first, large-scale look at how the CPAs in public accounting nationwide are measuring up to the profession’s core competencies.  More than 1,000 survey responses are needed in order to make this a valid study.

As a co-chair of the Knowledge Management Task Force, I, along with several fellow members and staff at INCPAS along with David’s guidance helped the process along by defining and expanding upon the core competencies to develop “Competency Descriptors.”  There is a descriptor for each of the seven core competencies that we feel every CPA should possess.  These CPA core competencies have been deemed critical by the profession and yet there are varying definitions and no way to recognize improvement.

What are the seven core competencies?
1) Critical Thinking and Problem Solving-Skills
2) Communication Skills
3) Leadership Skills
4) Synthesizing Intelligence Into Insight Skills
5) Integration and Collaboration
6) Anticipating and Serving Evolving Needs
7) Knowledge Sharing

So now you ask, what does this mean to me?  Very simply put, you can participate too!  This survey and benchmarking process will help you identify and rate your performance in these areas and learn how to recognize and reward improvement. From personal experience I can tell you that you SHOULD participate!  The opportunity does not come along very often where you can get real, meaningful, results from a 30-minute or so survey, that will give you benchmarking levels that you can use now and into the future for your personal and firm development.  The data from your survey is completely secure and will not identify individuals.   The results will be analyzed by Cognitive Edge Ltd. and destroyed within 12 months of the final report issuance date.  By participating in the survey, you will receive a complimentary copy of the executive summary of the study.  The full report will be available for sale to firms around the country who choose to benchmark themselves against this study.  This will be the first step in establishing a baseline for the competency of U.S. CPAs in public accounting.

You can be a part of this groundbreaking study.   I’ve seen the report that we got as part of the pilot program and we are using it in our firm already to measure and improve ourselves.   You can do the same!  What is your benchmark?  How do you stack up?  You won’t know if you don’t participate.   I suggest you do it now before it’s too late!  The survey period ends January 15, 2014, and should only be completed by CPAs actively working in public accounting. Please make time to take it as soon as possible.  Simply ctrl-click on “take it” hyperlink in the previous sentence, or the “Here’s A Solution” graphic above, and be on your way to the next level of competency.