What do our client’s value?
This question is at the core of every lean initiative. The idea is if you eliminate waste in your processes, your services will be more aligned to what your client’s value.
The Accounting profession is currently facing increasing pressure from clients on fees. If you become commoditized in the mind of your clients, or prospective clients, you are in trouble. This is why value is such an important concept. The more clients believe they are receiving value, the less they will make an issue of your fees. More importantly, these clients will be loyal and more likely to refer your firm to others.
Where do you start? View your firm’s services through the lens of your clients. What is less obvious is there are two clients – the external ones who receive the final product, and the internal ones – your staff – who perform the work. The voices of both must be considered in this process.
A case can be made that you cannot truly satisfy your external clients with first satisfying your internal ones. They are closest to the work processes, and in most cases, the client. Although your clients may complain about inefficiencies, it is your staff that deals with it on a daily basis and must manage the client through it.
Here are some of the questions your staff can help answer:
- What mistakes generate the most delays in our process?
- What are the wait times in each step of the process?
- How are you being underutilized? How can you be better utilized?
- Where can we apply technology to support the process more effectively?
These questions are only the beginning. By engaging your staff in a meaningful way, you will be able to have their perspective on the value add and non-value add activities you perform, allowing your firm to take the first step forward on the path to lean.