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Tax & AccountingDecember 28, 2021

Maximize Client Value and Effectiveness Through Process Improvement

By: Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting

In a recent Audit Talks Live session, Wolters Kluwer's Colleen Knuff and Arianna Campbell of Boomer Consulting explored process improvement strategies for accounting firms. As a consultant to accounting firms, Arianna spends her time helping firms find the intersections of talent, technology, leadership, and growth to make processes more effective.

Arianna also co-facilitates a community of process improvement leaders and provides training on process improvement methodologies, including Lean Six Sigma. Though this methodology has its origins in manufacturing, Arianna shares how Lean Six Sigma can also be successfully applied to professional service organizations to eliminate waste in technology processes.

In this post, we'll summarize some of the key points from this Audit Talks podcast; however, the entire conversation contains valuable insights for firms looking to adopt a growth mindset, increase the ROI of their existing technology, and make process improvements.

Listen to the entire discussion on Soundcloud to learn more about Boomer Consulting's approach to eliminating waste in technology processes, how to identify the nine categories of waste and get tips to better utilize your technology talent.

Nine Categories of Waste in Technology Processes

Processes can be examined through the nine categories of waste. Lean Six Sigma and these categories of waste provide a framework for firms to think about how they use technology and improve overall processes. Arianna described each category of waste at a high level and then took a closer look through a technology lens.

While it's best to listen to the podcast for the entire conversation, here's a quick summary:

  1. Defect—errors or mistakes that happen within your process.
  2. Overproduction—doing more work than necessary.
  3. Wait time—any time that is spent in between steps that impacts processes.
  4. Non-utilized talent—having highly trained staff performing low-value tasks due to lack of automation.
  5. Transportation—the shuffling around of papers.
  6. Inventory—think about firm inventory as your projects, which you need to keep completing and delivering to clients.
  7. Motion—defined as "scavenger hunts" for information.
  8. Excess processing—essentially doing more work than the client will pay for or, truly values.
  9. Attitude—having the right mindset to lead through change management.

How Can Firms Better Utilize Technology Talent to Improve Processes?

When we think about process improvement, one of the first words that come to mind is efficiency. However, process improvement is more about finding a balanced approach to efficiency and quality. Firms can't simply focus on effectively increasing staff efficiency without using technology, which is why one of the key areas to leverage technology as a talent team member is automation.

For example, to minimize overproduction, the second category of waste, you must create consistency. To leverage robotic process automation (RPA), you need to start with consistent processes.

Which Category of Waste Should CPA Firms Pay Particular Attention to?

When Boomer Consulting is helping firms with process improvement, they like to start with existing technology to ensure better leverage. All too often, firms will implement new technology, not understanding that the old processes don't go with the new technology. That's why it's so important to pay attention to change management.

So, when asked which category of waste CPA firms should pay particular attention to, Arianna highlights attitude. When she works with firms, she relies on metrics for process improvement. Time and again, these metrics have proven that firms are able to make the greatest improvements faster when they demonstrate a mindset of continuous improvement.

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Pick an Area of Waste And Start Making Improvements

Though we've presented the nine categories of waste in a list above, firms don't have to approach process improvements in that particular order. In the podcast, Arianna emphasizes that you want to start by looking at your current processes and getting a good understanding of where the issues are so you can uncover opportunities for improvement. Then look for the trends. If you see that transportation is your biggest issue, you can prioritize reducing or eliminating the paper in your processes first.

Many forward-thinking firms looking to improve processes, automate audit workflows and reduce manual, repeatable tasks utilize Wolters Kluwer's Integrated Audit Approach. It is a comprehensive, responsive, and efficient end-to-end audit workflow that combines audit technology tools like audit data analytics with proven audit methodology and expert content and guidance. This digital, end-to-end audit workflow provides consistency and ensures firms deliver quality audits faster.

Listen to the podcast to hear how your firm can effectively address the nine categories of waste and get strategies you can use to maximize client value through process improvement.

Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting

Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting is a leading provider of software solutions and expertise that helps tax, accounting and audit professionals research and navigate complex regulations, comply with legislation, manage their businesses and advise clients with speed and accuracy.


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