Simplicity is a word rarely associated with Accounting! The common words and phrases one is likely to encounter include
- “Ad hoc”
- “business specific”
- Urgency, “we need payments processed yesterday”
- “Not possible to standardize”
- “Case by case basis”
- “this won’t work in our business”
These will be accompanied a harried and harassed look, stress, constant firefighting, long hours in the office and a lot of rushing around! It is also common for every company to feel their specific domain and industry is the most complex, most difficult ever! Were one to suggest gently the idea of simplification and an easier way of getting things done, it is likely to be met with absolute horror and swift repudiation on why this will not work in our industry. Also, we simply do not have time for this! The following quotes from Tom Peters and Richard Branson are strong endorsements of the value of simplification.“Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing… layout, processes, and procedures”. Tom Peters “Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple” Richard Branson Here are some steps in the journey of simplification:
- Flowchart and map your processes
- Review the process map, identify and eliminate non-value adding activities
- Look for opportunities to automate using ERP best practices, integration with banking platforms and bots
- Compare your process best practices and question why can’t we conform to best practice? Why not?
- Be ruthless in pursuing standardization
- Aggressively question every “industry-specific requirement”
- Be willing to work on reasonable estimates for processes like month-end provisions
- Avoid analysis/paralysis by over-analyzing. A company I know has several thousand GL codes with the objective of better analysis but this often led to difficulty in coding, lack of standardization and little additional information.
- Document SOPs
- Benchmark key process measures against international benchmarks
As with constructing a new bridge or a road, the process is disruptive, takes a little time and can result in some temporary disturbances. But at the end of the project, you will be left with a simple, logical, “no stress” process which is beautiful in its simplicity. The quote of Robin Sharma is appropriate: “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and so gorgeous at the end.” Jehan Perinpanayagam, FCMA, FCCA CEO InfoMate Pvt Limited Web: www.infomateworld.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org InfoMate is a specialist provider of accounting services. As part of its service offering InfoMate works with clients to standardize and simplify accounting processes, recommend best practices, regularly benchmark client’s processes against international process standards. During the transition phase, we employe a process excellence resource and aggressively pursue process improvements throughout the engagement with our client. Documenting SOPs is part of our standard offering. InfoMate also works with the client to automate and introduce best practices.