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The Next Level of Process Improvement



Managing a growing firm and serving clients is a challenge. It requires multiple people, applications and processes. To deal with the complexity, lower costs, boost productivity, increase accuracy and support greater efficiency, firms undergo process improvement initiatives.


However, the approaches of process improvement you used yesterday may not work today or in the future. Automation, outsourcing and skill shifts impact what works, what doesn’t and what your firm can do to make things better.


Understanding where you’ve been helps you figure out where you are now and what you need to do to prepare for the future. This exercise isn’t just a way to pass the time—the decisions to make today create the trajectory for where you’re going in the future.


So, where are you on the following timeline?


Phase 1: Focus on efficiency and consistency

In the past, firms came to us for process improvement to help focus on efficiency. They wanted to streamline processes to make work move faster and increase realization. Efficiency is still a critical piece of process improvement. But today, firms are focused more on consistency.

This shift is due to the way technology and process intersect. Firm leaders see that if their processes aren’t consistent, they’re not able to leverage automation and outsourcing in the way they need to ultimately create more capacity.

It’s important to note that outsourcing doesn’t just mean sending work overseas. Outsourcing takes several forms, including:

  • Onshoring: the work stays in the country

  • Offshoring: some of all of the process happens in another country

  • Insourcing: the talent is an inclusive member of your team

  • Outsourcing: supplemental team resources who may be on-demand, seasonal or interim workers or long-term, dedicated and recurring workers

Consistency also allows the firm to better leverage its technology and realize a greater return on investment. Over the last couple of years, many firms invested heavily in technology, and they’re discovering that they need to align their processes with the new tech to get the full ROI.

Phase 2: Breaking down process silos

In the past, process improvement primarily happened on a department-by-department basis. Audit handled their own process improvement projects, the tax department had theirs, etc. The problem with this approach is that when you don’t take a firmwide approach, improvements you make in this department might break something in another or duplicate how the firm uses its technology.


Today, we’re seeing process improvement initiatives lead by Operations rather than individual departments because Operations can take a bird’s eye view of the firm.


Phase 3: Change leadership

Process improvement efforts are wasted if the change doesn’t stick, and change leadership is the glue that makes those changes sticky.


In the past, firm leaders rarely made an effort to understand the human element of change. For change leadership to be effective, leaders need to communicate early and often with their teams, provide an understanding of what is changing, take into account the natural human response to change, and help convince people that the work is “worth it.”


When you have a strong change framework and knowledge of the human element, you can implement strategies to make your process improvement initiatives successful.


So which phase is your firm in today? Wherever you are, you should be working toward the next level. Even if you’re in the change leadership phase, there is always room to grow. Process improvement continues to evolve, and learning how to grow with it creates tremendous opportunities.

 

Is your firm ready to stop wasting time on inconsistent and bloated processes?


Boomer Process Consulting can help you create a lasting process improvement strategy that frees up the capacity to deliver higher-value services to your clients. Schedule a discovery call today to start seeing real results.


 

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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