Recently, I was talking with a firm that had implemented LeanCPA within their tax department this past tax season. We were discussing what went well, what didn't go as planned and what ideas they had for continuous improvement.
This firm increased its realization more than 10 percent compared to last year, so there was a healthy list of things that went well. But that wasn't good enough for me. Why? Because "why" happens to be my favorite question. As I probed and drilled to find out the reasons behind some of the improvements, it was their lean project leader, let's call him Scott, who noted the cultural transformation.
"More than anything, I think the change in mindset and culture that encompassed all of our staff and our partner group was the biggest contributing factor," Scott said.
"Tell me more about what you mean," I responded.
Scott explained that lean helped get everyone in the firm on the same page and operating under consistent expectations. "Understanding and meeting our internal customer needs," he said, "that's what I believe lead to our success."
To provide exceptional client service, it takes more than what I call the 2Ts - technology and technical knowledge. The accounting industry is always on the leading edge when it comes to employing new technology like paperless solutions, electronic document storage and CRM. Actually, virtually every firm has implemented or is planning to implement these technologies. Likewise, most firms have individuals with expert technical knowledge. What many firms are still missing and where they are falling into a competitive disadvantage is in the third T - Team.
To truly have efficient processes that put your clients at the center of everything you do, you have to establish consistency within your different steps and levels of your processes. With that consistency, everyone in the firm begins to comprehend that you're rowing in a single direction. And the gains to your firm are significant. Everyone becomes accountable. Everyone is working toward the same goal. Everyone works together as one team. Isn't that the culture you want in your firm?
Implementing LeanCPA within a firm is a powerful way to build your team and improve your firm's culture. But if you focus solely on the 2Ts, you are not taking advantage of your firm's true competitive differentiator. As a result, you may be falling behind your competition... missing opportunities with your clients... leading good people in your firm to greener pastures.
As Scott so intuitively pointed out in our discussion, the cultural change made within their firm translated into positive results - ultimately resulting in increased profits. Everyone wants to be part of a well-oiled team. LeanCPA can get everyone in the same game.