The Power of a Lean Team

overview shot of a team working on a project

As a business owner, when you’re forming your team, typically you hire people who are experts in a specific area.  You do this because you need different people with different talents to successfully create your product or serve your customers.  Something you may not consider as a business owner is basic cross-training to create a leaner team.

Creating A Lean Team

Imagine you are the owner of a retail business. You have administrative employees who are responsible for ordering inventory, warehouse employees who unload deliveries and restock, and store associates who are the customer-facing sales team.  In retail, inventory is your greatest asset and simultaneously your greatest liability. Small changes to handling inventory can greatly affect your bottom line.  For instance, imagine you have an item that sells quickly and regularly, so you order an entire pallet every week.   If you only have one person assigned to handling deliveries or stocking, you could be missing out on a huge saving by not cross-training your sales to help them out.  Saving even one to two hours a week on a job like this adds up quickly over the course of a year.

 This idea may make you a bit uncomfortable because it is uncommon, but training members of each department how to pick up the slack when another area is overloaded is a simple change that can enhance the employee and the customer experience. Lean focuses on continuous improvement so even small changes over time contribute to enhancing your overall process. Moreover, it’s something that can be accomplished in any industry, from retail, to medical practices, and even CPA firms.  

Sharing the Load

January is a busy month for our Client Accounting Services department.  Just like in a restaurant, we have our “rush hour” except it lasts for weeks. We come in day after day with a mountain of work that seems unending because in addition to our usual workload of creating monthly financial statements, reconciling bank accounts, and running payroll, we need to issue thousands of W-2s and 1099s for our clients.  You can image it would be easy to fall behind or become disheartened, but what we’ve learned is that there are others in the firm who can help.

Usually our tax department is in a short lull during January.  They finished up year-end planning in December and information isn’t in yet to start preparing returns.  So instead of waiting for something to do, they share the load with us.  They help us finish reports, enter 1099s, create W-2s, and keep us from being overloaded.

The great thing is that all our departments work this way.  Just like tax can help us, audit personnel can shift to preparing tax returns, client accounting team members provide clean books and reports to help tax get returns done faster. 

Lean Team

Part of the reason we’ve been able to shift to a model of sharing our work is thanks to Lean Six Sigma and creating more Lean processes.  Lean requires a team-oriented approach to successfully streamline processes and we consider our team to be firm-wide, not department-wide. 

This is a great benefit to clients because our team approach means you can call more than just one person to get answers you need about your business.  It also means that the person doing your work is not overly stressed and just trying to get finished with your task to jump to the next. 

Here at Avizo Group we put every task from how we intake work, the actual “job” we are preforming for you, to the way we invoice through
the Lean process to ensure we are creating efficient processes. Through use of our Lean teams, technology and streamlined approaches, we can make sure we produce quality products for our clients.

Do you need help building your Lean team? Let Avizo Group share our knowledge with you.

Erann Thompson, Director of Advisory Services

As the leader of our Client Advisory Services team, Erann works side by side with business owners to create the right combination of accounting cloud applications to develop efficiencies, and profitability for your business.

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