The productivity of a business’ accounting department can be very difficult to measure and sometimes even more difficult to improve. It can be easy to stick with the policies and procedures that already exist, but taking some time to improve the accounting department’s methods can pay dividends in getting work done more quickly and efficiently.
Strict Cutoff Policies
An accountant relies on data from others to do their job properly and this can easily cause problems if those others aren’t willing to make that data delivery a priority. One thing that will help is to set a strict cutoff date and stick to it. This may not be a popular move, but can significantly improve the tendency of other departments and individuals to submit information in a timely fashion. It is important to review these date policies on a regular basis to ensure that these policies strike the right balance between servicing the needs of the accounting department and of the rest of the business.
Two types of process walkthroughs can be very important to improving productivity in any department. One is a walkthrough within the department with managers and supervisors. This allows those experienced with the processes to view it as an outsider and rise above the delay processing of the work to look at the procedure from a holistic viewpoint. This can allow members of the department to provide feedback and suggestions on aspects of the procedure that they aren’t normally involved in.
The second is cross-departmental walkthroughs. This allows many of the same benefits of the first method, but expands it to individuals who are less experienced with the actual procedure. This may lead to more ineffective suggestions, but also allows for unique perspectives and viewpoints. Even further, this allows non-accounting individuals to better understand the needs and goals of the accounting department, which may improve interactions and cooperation across departments.
No one discounts the knowledge, expertise, and ingenuity of accounting professionals. However, too often, accounting departments waste a lot of time and energy on tasks that don’t require a high level of personal touch. In fact, many aspects of accounting departments can be automated with computer applications. Accounting software solutions are common and widespread and even if one of these is being used, they are often under-utilized. Routing and form control are easily automated and can remove a significant amount of wasted time. It’s also important to audit and review the automation prior to the implementation and during its use.
Integration is easily overlooked but can have huge implications. Connecting various systems to each other can greatly impact productivity. This can allow easy importing of data into the accounting systems and allow other departments of the company to access necessary accounting data directly and automatically. As with automation, regular and in-depth audits and review of the implementation are critical to properly ensure that the automation is working properly and serving the needs and goals of all related departments.
Increasing productivity is a wonderful way to improve the functionality of an accounting department. These steps can dramatically improve the way the entire agency operates.
Until the next time,