What Are We Worth If Not Our Hours?

At HORNE, we have been working with clients for some time to move our pricing away from the billable hour to an outcome-based performance model. Outcome-based contracts and pricing shift the risk of contract nonperformance from our clients, whether they be state governments or private entities, and moves the risk to us.   

In other words, our clients shouldn’t have to pay for lots of hard work regardless of the outcome; they should pay for the outcome itself. This model often results in cost-savings to the client, and creates incentives for efficiency and performance on our part.

We are passionate that clients should only pay for results, not hours worked. In fact, we are so passionate about it that we have adopted the philosophy internally. We put our money where our mouth is and have moved to an outcome-based environment across the firm. That’s when understanding the worth and impact to our clients really struck home.

As a CPA firm, we like numbers. And sometimes, this love for details gets the best of us. We created code upon code to slice and dice our time. A half hour office manager’s meeting? Track it. 45 minutes spent on research for a new service line? Track it. Time spent entering time? Track it.

I was a time grumbler. One of those people who found themselves slogging through time entry as if it were a terrible chore. “I wish time entry would go away!” became my mantra every reporting period. 

In spite of our work-life integration and a balanced team approach, I felt comforted by the occasional 60-hour week, hours logged in service to our clients across the country, worn like a badge of honor and a sign of my commitment. When we made the decision to stop tracking all time that wasn’t directly related to serving clients, a moment of panic set in for me. How would my partners know how hard I was working?  

The answer is simple. Create value in all that we do, and ensure that the outcomes and results represent the quality, not quantity, of our effort. When our work delivers real results that are in line with our mission and vision, everyone benefits.

So how will clients know our worth if not for hours worked? Well, we know that what clients value is rapidly changing. They are searching for proactive help in seeing what is possible. And as the pricing wars wage on in the field of accounting, there will always be a competitor with a cheaper billable hour. 

We’re focused on delivering positive outcomes and superior results because we believe those are what our clients deserve. How long we work no longer matters—it is the outcomes that count. And we believe that so much, we’re willing to bet our bottom line on it.


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About the Author

Monica is a project manager in government services at HORNE where she manages large-scale projects with an emphasis on program design and implementation. She is a servant leader with a heart for people and a passion for making every touchpoint great for her clients. 

Topics: Quality, Value-Based Care, Time

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