SCHEDULING PRIORITIES AT TAX TIME
“Every year it’s the same thing. We have our corporate clients that need their tax returns completed by March 15 and our individual clients that need their personal income tax returns done by April 15, but it seems that whatever
plan we have in place with respect to scheduling the work, these three months of February, March, and April are still crazy.” Ron F3ice, managing partner of Itinerant Rice, a medium-sized CPA firm located in Chestnut Hill, MA, was holding his annual meeting in January with his staff of accountants to address the workload for the upcoming tax season. “What it boils down to,” Ron continued, “is that we try and cram a year’s worth of work into two and a half months, and that’s not realise ic, regardless of how many hours a week each of us works. In addition, no matter how hard we try, we always end up with some complaints from clients that we take too long to get their tax returns done .” “The issue is establishing priorities for doing the returns: chimed in Bob Mazarin, a senior accountant who had been with the firm for bout five years. “We need to decide which returns we work on first, which get second priority but still g’et completed by the March or April deadline, and those returns that we put on extension, and which therefore don’t need to be filed until August 15.””It’s not as simple as that,” replied Ron, “we tell our clients if they don’t get us the information to do their returns before March 23, they may have to go on extension. However, for those we put on extension, we still need to estimate their taxes. Even then, there may be interest and penalties to pay. On the other hand, we could also get complaints from those customers that have refunds coming if we put them on enter-sion.And what do we do when we get a corporate return ate last minute, and have several individual clients who have given us their tax information in early larch?” added Bob, “do we delay the individual tax returns to work on the corporate retJr’1?” “Good point,” said Ron, adding “All I know is that I am tired of facing this same fiasco every year. There has to be a better way of scheduling these returns other than the one we’re using, which I am not sure even I know! Anyone have any ideas on.
Scheduling, which is defined as the prioritizing and sequencing of work, is a critical element in both manufacturing
and services: In manufacturing, scheduling is especially important in a job shop where orders or parts are typically processed in batches. Because each order requires a unique set of operations in a specific se ounce, job shop scheduling can be very complicated. Consequently, management needs to look at the scheduling of b the workers and equipment. To accomplish this, some type of priority system is usually used to determine the order in which jobs are to be done. Service managers, due to the fact that labor is very often a major cost element, focus almost exclusively on scheduling workers. Worker scheduling in services can be divided into two broad categories: (a) the scheduling of
back-of-the-house workers and (b) the scheduling of front-of-the-house workers. For those services that have sufficient buffer between their customers and the back-of the- house workers, the scheduling issues are similar to
those of a manufacturing operation. For both of these types of operations, managers focus on high labor productivity
and/or machine capacity utilization. At the same time they need to ensure that orders are completed on time. The scheduling of front-of-the-house service workers is complicated by the fact that these workers must interact directly with the customers. In other words, ~these workers have to be available when customers want the service that their company provides. As a consequence,’ managers face a trade-off between providing high levels of customer service, in the form of short (oJ even no) customer waiting times, and obtaining high worker productivity (as explained in detail in the previous chapter and its supplement). In order to obtain both high levels of worker productivity and fast customer service, service managers are increasingly turning to technology and scheduling software.