Are you looking to improve your firm’s processes in 2022?
After another difficult year and grueling busy seasons, you may be looking for ways to improve your processes, improve efficiency and increase capacity in your firm. These tips can help.
Consider how the process integrates with everything else
Remember, no process happens in a vacuum. It’s crucial to consider how the process you’re trying to improve impacts other upstream or downstream departments and integrates with other systems. If the changes you’re making will affect other people or teams, include them in the conversation. Also consider how changes to process impact the other key areas for firm success: talent, technology, leadership and growth.
This gives everyone involved in the process a chance to work through pain points together. It also ensures you can jointly come up with the best ideas instead of having one department working on improvements that are a fit for their department but cause unforeseen problems for other parts of the firm. Also be sure to consider how the potential process changes impact the other key areas for firm success: talent, technology, leadership and growth.
Invest in training your team
Ensure that everyone involved in the process has the proper training, ongoing support and resources to succeed.
For example, suppose your firm is implementing a new automated workflow solution. In that case, you need to make sure everyone who will use the software has the knowledge and training to navigate the software and integrate it into their daily workflow, as well as technical support to troubleshoot any issues that come up.
If people don’t have the right training and resources, they’re less likely to buy into the initiative.
Communicate to “we” instead of “they”
Improving your business processes often involves changing existing systems and teams. You may need to implement new software, hire a new team member or organize training for your existing staff.
Rolling out the new process can be a project in itself, so it’s important to plan and manage this carefully. Allocate time to communicating with employees. Change isn’t easy, and people can become resistant to it, especially if it’s a process they’ve been following for some time or the team has navigated many other changes recently.
When communicating changes, one simple tweak that can have significant results is to communicate to “we” instead of “they.” The word “they” allows people to avoid taking responsibility and makes room for division in the team because it implies the firm isn’t a united front. For example, saying “they decided to go with this solution” versus “we made the decision to go with this solution” allows everyone to share responsibility for the choice rather than spreading the firm into silos.
Allocate time to think about continuous improvement
It’s natural for people to prioritize urgent work over things that are important but not pressing. That’s why you have to dedicate time to thinking about how you can continuously improve processes. Consider reinforcing the importance of process improvement by encouraging team members to allocate time to it.
You can prioritize continuous improvement by having people dedicate a few afternoons each month to reviewing your performance metrics and looking for new ways to eliminate waste, reduce roadblocks and yield better results. Find a schedule that works for you and stick with it. You might not see an impact immediately, but you will benefit in the long term.
Remember, process improvement is never a one-and-done exercise. You should approach every project as an ongoing effort. Deep, lasting organizational change doesn’t happen overnight. But as your team starts to see the benefits and improve metrics, you’ll reap the rewards for years to come.
Would you like to connect with other Lean project team leaders, champions and Green Belt alumni in the accounting profession?
The Boomer Lean Circle is a community of the accounting profession’s top Lean leaders and champions within CPA firms. These leaders gather to collaborate and share leading-edge best practices in the areas of process improvement and innovation. Apply now to begin taking your firm to the next level.
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.