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5 Trends Fueling the Future of Process

Staying at the forefront of smart, intentional change in your firm can be tough. Technology and best practices change quickly. So how can you keep up the momentum and generate support from your team?

That’s a challenge virtually every process manager, project manager and change leader faces today. But members of our Boomer Process Circle have an advantage over people out there trying to handle it on their own: a network of peers facing the same opportunities and challenges.

Through conversations with our Circle members, we’ve identified the following five trends fueling the process's future. Keep these in mind as you embark on the next initiative in your firm.

Process metrics as part of overall firm KPIs

In any process improvement initiative, beginning with the end in mind is crucial. We do this by establishing the key benefits to the firm and its clients, and these benefits should align with the firm’s strategic plan.

The next step is to determine what will be measured to assess the progress of these changes. Once you confirm these KPIs, they should be part of the firm’s overall KPIs. If they aren’t included in the firm leaders’ dashboard with other key metrics, they won’t be top of mind, and what gets measured gets managed.

The right KPIs to monitor vary from project to project, but some common indicators of process effectiveness include increases in efficiency and consistency as well as capacity creation.

Empower and expand cross-functional teams

Leading firms focus on expanding their cross-functional teams for process improvement. They realize that success isn’t achieved by a mandate from the top down or by a particular department or silo.

An expanded cross-functional team includes representatives from different levels—including partners, managers, staff, IT and administration. But—and this is key—it also includes input from other service lines and departments that the change might impact. This helps break down process silos.

To make a significant and lasting impact, these teams must be empowered and given the responsibility and authority to drive change.

Mindset shift in resource management

A critical mindset shift is to move beyond scheduling and hours to focus on talent growth and development strategies. This is best done by evaluating resource management across the firm instead of by department. It is not just scheduling, hours and warm bodies—it’s about how we approach resourcing to grow our people.

Scheduling is a major process frustration in most firms. They have a certain number of engagements and a certain number of people, and they’re just trying to plug in the holes. As a result, there’s little time or energy left to consider skills or growth.

Technology can play an important role in resource management, but simply plugging people and hours into scheduling software is not the answer. Instead, firms need to create a resource management strategy. This should include a focus on talent growth and development and a plan for automation and outsourcing.

When this strategy is supported by a process to move from scheduling and hours to putting together a framework to grow our people by aligning our talent with available growth opportunities, staff are more empowered and feel like they have more autonomy over their work.

From effort to productivity and value

In the past, firms primarily focused their process improvement initiatives on efficiency and hours. But this only measures effort.

Leading firms have changed their focus to productivity (what is getting done and what projects are moving across the finish line) instead of just thinking about hours.

Taking it a step further, it’s essential to consider whether the productivity gains are valuable to the firm and the client. These are better measures of success than efficiency and hours, and they help us shift the fee conversations with clients away from effort (hours) towards value.

Firms need to make sure they are driving the right behaviors. If your processes are bloated and ineffective, increasing productivity and value is difficult. Process improvement (along with project management and change leadership) is essential. 

Process improvement + project management + change leadership = smart growth

Process and project management have been viewed as silos in the past, but they both

support change leadership. Firms now recognize that looking at all three is the most effective way to make lasting progress. 

It’s essential to define each of these roles within the firm and to have a trained and skilled leader in each area. Who leads project management? Who leads process improvement? Who leads change leadership? The leaders in these areas should have the certifications and training to use proven frameworks for each area. These skill sets then need to be used together for smart growth.

Firms usually fall into one of two categories:

  1. They lack in one or more areas, or

  2. They have expertise in all the areas, but there isn't a framework for integrating these three areas. 

To make lasting change that sticks, firms need leaders with expertise working together in process improvement, project management and change leadership. Process improvement isn’t a stand-alone effort. 


Could you benefit from structure and accountability as you strive to push your firm forward?

The Boomer Process Circle is a peer group of top process managers, project managers and change leaders in the accounting profession who share tools and resources for pushing change within their firms. Apply now to tap into the experience and expertise you need to lead the charge for continuous improvement.


As Shareholder and Consultant for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Arianna Campbell helps accounting firms challenge the status quo by leading process improvement initiatives that result in increased profitability and client satisfaction. She also facilitates the development and cultivation of future firm leaders in The P3 Leadership Academy™ Academy. Internally, she blends concepts from Lean Six Sigma and leadership development to drive innovation and continuous improvement within the company. Arianna also enjoys the opportunity to share knowledge through regular contributions to the Boomer Bulletin and other industry-wide publications, as well as public speaking at industry conferences.


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