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How to Improve Operations for Accounting Firms Using Kanban

Many operations teams are looking for ways to improve. One of the best methods that we have seen is Kanban. In this article, we will share how you can use Kanban to increase efficiency and reduce waste.

We’ll also cover specifically how it can help accounting firms to be more competitive, by increasing collaboration, transparency, and compliance with regulations.

Successful operations managers use a system that ensures business operations are sustainable, predictable, and scalable. That’s where Kanban comes in.

Understanding Kanban for Operations Management

Kanban is a Japanese word for “sign board” and businesses use them to maximise the efficiency of business practices. The Kanban method operates by limiting the number of items in process, so that productions are not overloaded. It also limits work-in-progress to reduce queueing and lead times.

Kanban was originally used in the manufacturing industry for the production process but has been adapted for use in operations where there are more than two steps involved.

What are the benefits of Kanban for Operations?

Operations management leveraging the Kanban method has been shown to be an effective way to work more efficiently without any wasted resources.

The operations managers set up a Kanban board with the work stages that need to be completed. And then visualises the number of items at each stage by using different coloured cards or sticky notes, in order from left to right on the Kanban board.

operations management

Thus, providing a visual representation of the business processes enabling them to become sustainable, predictable and scalable. 

Much has been written around operations management with the predominant focus being on efficiency improvement to figure out the actual cost. But, operations are not just about “cost”. 

The Kanban method is an effective way to improve operations because it has some real-world benefits.

For example, increased productivity, improved quality management, quality control, which leads professional services and accounting firms to exceed customer expectations.

Here are some benefits of Kanban operations management technique:

– Limit work in progress to reduce bottlenecks and inventory. A strategy that helps accounting service providers to work in an efficient manner.

– Increase transparency. The Kanban system is transparent and provides a clearer picture of what needs to be done, when it should be completed, who’s doing the work.

kanban for operations management

– Reduce errors by making processes visible. The operations are conducted in such way that all steps can be seen at any given time. 

– Improve process effectiveness with clear visual cues. Effective operations management can be reached as operations are transparent and process is clear.

– Reduce lead time for operations to happen by eliminating bottlenecks in workflow. Kanban helps accounting service providers to reduce the amount of tasks they have on hand.

Which will ultimately help them reach effective operations faster.

– Create a culture of continuous improvement by setting clear goals and objectives for everyone involved in operations from managers to individual contributors. 

– Improve operations predictability, which can lead firms to exceeding customer expectations.

Kanban boards can be used for various areas of operations that are repeated at scale. For instance, core accounting service management or even quality assurance in accounting firms. You may want to arrange customer demand by priority to reduce unnecessary tasks.

How to Implement Kanban for Accounting Firms? 

The fundamentals of this operations management strategy is to visualise work by categorising it into different stages and limiting the number of items in each stage. 

Kanban boards can help operations teams to better manage their workload, organise tasks, and achieve more predictable outcomes for projects or operations at hand.

First, create a Kanban board with all cards in columns based on what they are waiting to be worked on. 

Columns from left to right could be things like “TO DO,” (e.g. yet to be started or awaiting for client documentation) “DOING” (the core execution of the work) and “DONE” (core work has been completed but perhaps waiting for the invoice to be raised to the client or to make payment).

kanban board

The columns are used to represent the stages while the steps of the process (known as the value stream in Lean methodology) can help you to see the more detailed progress of the work. 

Professional Services and Accounting Firms use Kanban boards to better manage business processes. Naming service operations with the appropriate operations Kanban board can help with daily operations as well as planning for future business needs. 

The Kanban board’s purpose is to help teams visualise what needs to be done in order of priority, and also see where they are at with their tasks right now. 

For more on how to setup a Kanban Board in your Accounting firm then check out the Process Optimisation Blueprint…

Kanban blueprint

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There are various challenges inherent in a traditional distribution of work, such as assigning certain clients to each accountant and having them complete all the work associated with that client. With Kanban, distributing work is much easier!

Following the Kanban approach for Accounting firms it reduces inefficiencies and lets you operate the business on one-level so that employees can begin to work as a self-organised team (another concept from Lean). Employees take care of tasks they are best suited to complete, no matter where it is located or who requested it. In this way everyone has an opportunity to be involved rather than waiting for their turn. 

So, in summary how could a system like Kanban work for Accounting firms? 

At its essence, it’s just about managing the flow of business processes and providing a visual representation of the workflow. You create and update visual boards to show what needs doing in order for operations to be sustainable, predictable and scalable. 

And when you need help with your accounting practices or want an outside perspective on your processes, Boombirds is here!

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