This article, Continual Improvement, is the final phase of the process improvement project I began outlining in May. This phase represents a time to review the progress your staff has made and plan for additional improvements. You have begun the transition to create a mindset of continual improvement in accounting. Take a step back and look at what you accomplished, and determine how to keep moving forward.
As you plan your next steps, review each phase and the impact it had:
- Phase 1 – Defining Your Approach to Closing – During the first phase you reset your expectation of your accounting department. Most companies are skeptical of improving their accounting processes and lower their expectations. After following these phases, rethink your expectations and set higher goals.
- Phase 2 – Approaching Your Staff – During phase 2 as you introduced this project to your accounting staff, you recognized their resistance to change and understood how to address it. Review the impact of the improvements you made, and how staff resistance was overcome. Encourage your staff to seek additional improvements.
- Phase 3 – Initial Process Review – No one believes their policies and procedures are bad, until they are reviewed in detail. Acknowledging the problems was a big accomplishment for your staff. Recognize and review the improvements they have been made.
- Phase 4 – Simple Changes – In phase 4, your staff began to rethink their processes and to make better use of system automation. Accounting began to develop a soft closing process.
- Phase 5 – Continually Monitoring Data – During phase 5, you engaged your entire organization in error resolution, and accounting utilized a process server to create a soft close. Mangers were provided more accurate and timely financial information, invoices are submitted quicker and cash flow improved.
- Phase 6 – Speed of Technology – Automation and data integration are large commitments and most companies delayed this phase. As you consider your next steps, remember a properly developed integration delivers a return on investment every time the process is run.
- Phase 7 – Audit Preparation – During this phase your staff began to understand how to distribute audit tasks throughout the year and reduce their audit stress.
- Phase 8 – Continual Improvement – Your staff embraces change and continually strives for process improvement. As you win new contracts or change your business model, your staff is ready to support it.
Just as you continually support and monitor the progress of your engineering or teams, do the same with your accounting staff. Acknowledge your team’s achievements and encourage them to continue improving.
If you need help or advise with your internal process improvement project, I can help. Please email me directly with any questions firstname.lastname@example.org