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The firm administrator's role has evolved into a position very different from what most firms first created. A decade ago most firm administrators were office managers responsible primarily for overseeing the support staff, ordering supplies and researching equipment purchases. Administrators have expanded this position to one that provides valuable new services to firms-- and, in many cases, brings in added revenues and opportunities.
Many of today's administrators serve as chief operating officers. They manage the firm's cash and finances, time and billing, collections, employee benefits and policies, recruiting, professional liability insurance, computer systems, equipment purchases, office relocations and marketing. This article describes some of the many ways in which practices are making the most of their administrators' abilities.
Many administrators are the communication link between all levels and departments, allowing them to take a proactive approach to problems and keep morale high and turnover low. As one partner said, "Our firm administrator talks to all of our staff daily and deals with problems before they grow."
Administrators also perform cost cutting. Bill Leach, the firm administrator for Katz, Sapper & Miller, Indianapolis, reviews staffing expenses as a member of his firm's human resources strategic planning committee. By deciding to hire permanent part-time accounting staff, he reduced schedules from May through December, which has lowered compensation and benefits costs by at least 8% and as much as 18% a year. In addition, recognizing that bad hiring decisions can be very expensive, Bill attended a training session to learn how to administer and interpret the Predictive Index, a valuable personality profile diagnostic tool for use in hiring decisions and evaluations that is available to administrators from D.B. Scholl …