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Lean Awareness for Finance Teams


The purpose of “lean” is to reduce the time-line between a customer ordering a product or service, and its delivery, by removing the inefficiencies in the process. Thus, lean is all about the flow of work through a business process, and removing impediments to that flow (waste).

To this end, the lean philosophy focuses on three key elements:

  1. Delivering what the customer actually wants and values from a process – at the right time and at the right price;
  2. Streamlining and smoothing the process to consistently deliver customer value with as few “non-value-adding” steps as possible;
  3. Empowering the team to continuously improve the process.

Thus “Lean” is a people system, rather than a set of tools; and the key to success in lean is developing managers and employees to truly understand lean; be able to use lean tools; and to work together to improve processes.

Lean is not about making people work harder or faster: it is about identifying and removing inefficiencies from the process – unnecessary steps; over-complicated elements; excessive levels of authorisation, time delays; and so on – in order to create the capacity to do more “value-adding” work in the time available. Process improvement requires senior management support, openness, and the active involvement of people.

Virtually none of your organisation’s internal accounting and business transactions actually add value for your customers. Why would any customer would be willing to pay for purchase order matching; or works order processing; or inventory tracking through your business?. These transactions have arisen over many years as “standard” methods of financial control. At the same time, the cost of financial transactions and controls is very high – often 10% or more of total business costs

We’re not saying that financial transactions can be completely eliminated – financial control must be maintained – but we are saying that internal control processes can be greatly streamlined to radically reduce the amount of time required to achieve the same level of financial control. Achieving this is about applying the lean improvement philosophy to finance processes. In a nutshell this means:

  1. Identify the purpose of the process from the point of view of the customer.
  2. Study the process thoroughly and understand the barriers to meeting its purpose. Make problems visible.
  3. Measure how effectively the process meets its purpose
  4. Empower the people in the process to stop and fix the problems, and balance the flow
  5. Develop the team to be trained, motivated and supported to identify, solve and fix problems
  6. Share the learning at all levels

Who Should Attend?

Lean Awareness for Finance Teams will introduce your finance team to the key principles of lean improvement, will introduce them to the tools required, and, through structured exercises, will start them on the path to improving some of your core finance processes.

Course Content

  1. What is Lean?
  2. Lean Simulation
  3.  Customers and Value Streams
  4. Value and Waste
  5. Value Stream Mapping
  6. Understanding Process Risk (FMEA)
  7. Practical Problem Solving
  8. Making a start with Lean
  9. Action Planning

Lean Awareness for Finance Teams is a one-day course suitable for up to 18 people. It is facilitated by Ross Maynard, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, with 20 years improvement experience and a specialist in lean finance and lean accounting.