Firm of the Future at DFW

Attention my fellow Dallasites and Fort Worthians. Ron Baker and I are delivering our famous (well, in our minds anyway) Firm of the Future Symposium at the Hilton DFW Lakes hotel on February 12 and 13.

This class is for all professionals: accountants, lawyers, IT consultants, architects, engineers, advertising agencies, we have even had a doctor attend.


If you are interested here are the details:

Firm of the Future Symposium

The Firm of the Future Symposium coming to a city near you will feature Ron Baker of the Vera Sage Institute. The symposium will feature Ron Baker of the VeraSage Institute and Ed Kless, Sage senior director, partner strategy and development. This experience is dedicated to the possibility that a professional organization can be run more effectively when it becomes a knowledge firm rather than a service firm. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone, as it requires partners to think differently than they have in the past about what it is that they do.

The registration fee for the first attendee is $2,000. The fee for additional attendees is $1,000.

Download the agenda for this event .



Sage University

Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center
1800 Highway 26 East
Grapevine, TX 76051

Feb. 12-13

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Mid-Market ERP


The registration site is not the friendliest, so if you have any problems, please just let me know and I will take care of it.

If you have any questions, let me know.


Sage Firm of the Future Symposium – New Dates Announced

I am thrilled to announce that Ron Baker and I will be conducting four Sage Firm of the Future Symposia in 2012. The dates are:

  • March 20-21 in Toronto, ON
  • April 24-25 in Irvine, CA
  • May 23-24 in Vancouver, BC
  • July 17-18 in Boston, MA

The symposium will feature Ron Baker of the VeraSage Institute and yours truly and is dedicated to the possibility that a professional organization can be run more effectively when it becomes a knowledge firm rather than a service firm. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone as it requires partners to think differently than they have in the past about what it is that they do.

If you are interested visit, and navigate to Academies and Bootcamps > Mid Market ERP. Not a Sage partner, but still want to attend? Email me and I can get you registered. The price is $2,500 per person and comes with a 100 percent money-back guarantee.


On Sensational Saturday for SAN Members

On Saturday, July 9, 2011 the Sage Accountants Network (SAN) is presenting Sensational Saturday at Sage Summit 2011 at the Gaylord National Hotel just outside Washington, DC.

The main draw is entitled, Tomorrow Is Today: The Accounting Firm of 2011 to be delivered by Darren Root of RootWorks and Ron Baker of the VeraSage Institute. (Oh yeah, a guy by the name of Ed Kless is going to be there to moderate the fireworks.)

imageDarren is the co-author (with Michael Gerber) of The E-Myth Accountant. Ron’s just released book is Implementing Value Pricing. While the two agree on many topics, including the need for professionals to set fixed prices for engagements, there are other areas where they are not in alignment. This, to me, is where the fun will begin.

imageThe presentation runs from 9am to 5pm and is dedicated to the possibility that accounting firms as we traditionally think of them are dying quickly. In order to ensure their survival, firms need to radically transform themselves. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone and many firms will not be able to make the transition at all because this transition requires us to think differently than we have in the past about what it is that we do. You are invited to open a dialogue on a different model for creating success in a professional firm.

Click here for more information about the Sage Accountants Network.

SLAs are Dead

I have just returned from Sage North America’s Insights conference in Denver. The conference is, at the same time, completely exhausting and completely invigorating. I learn so much from Sage partners because they continue to test my thinking.

Without question, the best test of my thinking came during my pre-conference session on Sunday. One of the attendees (I cannot remember who, so if it is you, please claim the credit) shook me to the core. She said, “So if you believe we are professional knowledge firms, why should we be selling service level agreements?” I was dumbstruck.

My only response was, “You should not.” I have to admit, I have been wrong.

In one of the all-time great movies The Ten Commandments, Cedric Hardwicke as the Pharaoh Sethi says, “Let the name of Moses be stricken from every book and tablet. Stricken from every pylon and obelisk of Egypt. Let the name of Moses be unheard and unspoken, erased from the memory of man, for all time.”

The same must be done for service level agreements. So, let the phrase “service level agreement” be stricken from every Ron Baker book and article. Stricken from every blog post and comment on the VeraSage Website. Let the phrase of “service level agreement” be unheard and unspoken, erased from the memory of professionals, for all time.


In keeping with this pronouncement, above is my slide from my session on creating, service access level agreements at the conference. Access Level Agreement is, for now, a placeholder. Other ideas I mulled over where: customer level agreements (too direct), support level agreements (too limiting), and access contract (too legal).

It is time once again to tap into the collective intellectual capacity of the community. Please post your ideas and arguments for or against the correct phrase.

Instead, I’ll let you be the judge

Yesterday, I was forwarded a post from Dwayne Wright who could not be more wrong about project management and value pricing. Please read his post before continuing.

I posted wrote a comment, he rejected it saying, “Well, just rejected the first comment for a blog that wasn’t clearly SPAM. It came from a value billing advocate and was equally harsh, combative and lacking of substance.”

“Harsh, combative,” HELL yes. “Lacking in substance,” I’ll let you be the judge.

My comment:

I am probably the original source of the comment about billing by the hour as being unethical. (It is clearly suboptimal and I believe immoral as well, but that is a whole other story.)

First, let me be clear, I do not accuse anyone personally of being unethical; it is the practice that is unethical because it promotes some very bad habits.

  1. It puts the consultant and the customer is an adversarial role. It is in the consultant’s financial interest to maximize hours; in the customer’ interest to minimize hours.
  2. You state, “It also says this (hourly billing) is often used when a precise statement of work cannot be quickly prescribed. Does that sound familiar to you and your consulting business?” Yes, it sure does and that is just plain wrong. Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice in any profession.
  3. While the PMBOK (and PMI, in general) have some good things to say about project management, they are overly obsessed with costs. After all most of this stuff comes from government (think defense contractors and NASA). In business, customers do not care about your costs, nor should they. They care about the results. They pay for results not efforts. This again is a misalignment.
  4. You are arguing that the risks should be borne by both the customer and the consultant. That is just wrong. You are the one with the knowledge not the customer. It is your job to spread diversify your risks across all your customers not put it back on each of them. Your customers hire you because of risk. If what you did was easy, you would not be hired in the first place. To put it back on them is ludicrous.

Lastly, it is not “value billing” is it “value pricing” or better yet “pricing on purpose.” A price is set ahead of time a bill comes after the fact. You bill now, we at the VeraSage Institute, encourage you to set a price beforehand.

Ed Kless

Senior Fellow, VeraSage Institute

By the way, Dwayne Wright, you are free to post any comments here they will not be rejected. You can thank me later for giving you a larger audience then you ever thought possible.

Reason to kill time sheets #17

In reply to a conversation with a member of VeraSage I wrote a really good paragraph and I thought I would share since it is TLFT (too long for Twitter).

One of the issues (with tracking time) is vagueness which is the enemy of accountability. Getting people to define the results is hard work; time sheets allow managers to be precise about the effort expected while leaving the results entirely vague. Thus someone who bills many hours can be considered a hero or an idiot depending on what the manager thinks of them.

Peter Drucker and Time Sheets

Recently, I have been plagued by people who claim Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

First, let me say that I cannot find this as a direct quote of Drucker’s other than continuous and unsubstantiated citations in many articles, blog posts, and PowerPoint presentations all over the Internet. If anyone has the direct knowledge of the book or published article wherein Drucker says these exact words, please let me know. Until such time, please do not attribute this quote to Drucker.

Second, in my research looking for this quote, I found the following:

Reports and procedures should be the tool of the man who fills them out. They must never themselves become the measure of his performance. A man must never be judged by the quality of the production forms he fills out – unless he be the clerk in change of these forms. He must always be judged by his production performance. And the only way to make sure of this it by have him fill out no forms, make no reports, expect those he need himself to achieve performance. – Peter Ferdinand Drucker, The Practice of Management, 1954, page 135.

All emphasis mine.

Does anyone now want to say that Peter Drucker would be in favor of submitted time sheets to measure productivity? I rest my case.