So, you have completed the First Steps to Streamline Your Processes and have documented and mapped out your current processes (your “current state”). Now you are ready to take the next steps: analyze your current state, design a future state and manage the change.
With your documentation in hand, analyze the existing processes and work through questions to identify all potential opportunities for improvement:
- Where is there duplicate work being done?
- What manual processes could be automated?
- Where could new software or better utilization of current software improve workflow?
- What activities do not support the objectives of the process, department, or organization?
- What types of errors occur frequently? What causes them, and how could they be mitigated?
- What best practices common to the process, department, or organization are missing or incomplete?
- What steps do not contribute to the best practices of the department?
- Isolate key controls that prevent errors or fraud: are they insufficient? Are they excessive?
- Where does key person risk exist?
- Where could tasks be reassigned to better utilize staff skillsets and develop your team?
This analysis process is best performed through collaboration with other key process owners, organizational leaders, and advisors. When conducting these meetings, the execution is a significant factor in the quality of the analysis. Be mindful of fostering an environment that welcomes, captures, and respects all ideas.
Having analyzed and gathered these ideas from your analysis, it is time to design the future state of the process. Assess priority, feasibility, and impact of the ideas generated. Design and document the ideal future state of the process, considering your available resources. Here are some questions to work through:
- What resources does the organization currently have or is willing to procure? What limitations do resources place on the future state?
- What is the project budget for training, new software, implementation consulting, change management consulting, etc.?
- What is the ideal future state of these processes considering available resources, organizational goals, and project objectives?
- Will the transition from the current to the future state be done in multiple phases? If so, what are those phases?
- Whether in single or multiple phases, what is a realistic timeline?
- What changes have the greatest impact on achieving the project objectives?
Just as the analysis step was highly collaborative, there is also great value in collaborating throughout this design phase.
The best-laid plan is at risk of failure when change is ineffectively managed. Just as you designed a future state of the process, now spend time on a change management plan. Here are some questions to work through:
- What needs to happen to prepare people within the organization for the change?
- Who are the key team members involved in the change?
- How will these changes be communicated? And to whom?
- What additional resources need to be provided to be successful? For example, training, systems, people, etc.
- How will changes be monitored throughout the change period? And once fully implemented?
- How will key team members be held accountable?
Take enough time to go through these and other change management factors so that your streamlining project has the best chance of success and effectiveness.
Remember to reflect on the project throughout the transition and after reaching significant checkpoints. Here are some reflection questions to get you started:
- Are the project objectives being met?
- How is the team adapting to the changes?
- How is morale?
- Does anything need to be adjusted based on what you know now?
- Are the changes achieving the objectives desired?
- What challenges have presented themselves that were not anticipated?
Your trusted advisors here at Withum can be a valuable resource to help guide you through updating your processes and streamlining procedures. Reach out if you want help mapping existing processes or analyzing them for improvement.
Authors: Ashleigh Hall, CPA, Partner | [email protected] and Caroline Weirich, CPA | [email protected]
For more information on this topic, please contact a member of Withum’s Multiemployer Benefit Plan Services or Labor Organization Services Teams.