BlackLine Blog

November 10, 2020

Identifying Sources of Waste in Your F&A Processes

Modern Accounting
1 Minute Read

Michael Heilman

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US industries enjoyed more than 60 months of economic growth and prosperity before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. During prosperous times like these, companies tend to focus on delivering more volume and capturing a greater market share—and process inefficiencies are often overlooked in lieu of capturing that growth.

That is, until there’s disruption.

Any type of unintentional disruption uncovers or leads to process waste. This is caused by having to change processes “on the fly” or an inability to operate the business at all.  In these unprecedented times, process inefficiencies and waste are rapidly draining your business of vital cash.

Take these steps to quickly identify and immediately address sources of waste in your accounting and finance processes.

Assemble the Team

The best subject matter experts are within the walls of your organization.  Pull together cross-functional talent who are most familiar with your processes and willing to facilitate change.

Identify Low-Hanging Fruit

Create an environment for problem solving. Conduct workshops, gathering the team to actively identify process waste. Many LEAN Six Sigma tools, such as the Failure Modes Effect Analysis (FMEA), are useful in facilitating workshops, gathering ideas, and developing implementation strategies.

Use the Waste Wheel to quickly identify these sources of waste:

  • Inventory – Is there expiring inventory that can be sold at a reduced price or donated?

  • Stagnation – Is there idle equipment or employees that can be redeployed?

  • Over-processing – Have “on-the-fly” process changes added unnecessary steps that can be eliminated?

  • Overproduction – Is the right mix of products or services still being delivered?

  • Defects – Has a reduction in operations increased process failures that require better documented standardized procedures and cross training?

  • Motion – Has social distancing or working remotely caused excessive employee movements that require better physical and/or electronic workspaces?

  • Transportation – Has working remotely added excessive movements of information (emails) that require better collaboration tools?

  • Untapped Potential – Are employees and their collective problem-solving skills being utilized?

Develop a Plan & Timeline

Put together a project plan including timelines and resource needs. Prioritize ideas and implementation strategies into the highest impact activities with least amount effort first.

This ensures you are capturing quick, low-hanging opportunities in a more timely manner.

Execute the Plan

Empower a project manager to ensure the timely execution of the implementation strategies. Capture opportunities as quickly as possible to realize efficiencies and reduce costs.

Read this ebook to learn eight ways BlackLine integrates with the Lean Six Sigma method, equipping your F&A organization to eliminate the waste from your manual close processes.

About the Author


Michael Heilman