Kan we ban month-end?

On the 29th June, at 4:30pm, just before the books close for the financial year, I found myself waiting. Then, at nearly 5pm, I receive a flood of information from various stakeholders that affect year end and which was requested earlier in the month. Here is when my stress levels hit the roof and anger was steaming from my ears. Sound familiar?  

As Accountants, a lot of our time is spent on either making assumptions or chasing information in order to validate those assumptions to close off whatever financial activity we are working on at the time. These activities are not flat lined, these have their peaks and troughs, where we feel like we are either twiddling our thumbs or working to ridiculous deadlines.

So, I looked to industry to see what other teams are doing to solve this issue – surely I’m not alone? What would an effective Finance function look like?

And what I found is that there are others, like me, who strive to remove this stress and inefficiency from their lives. There are those that even succeed – intentionally or unintentionally. And the success stories used Kanban and other Lean techniques to streamline their processes that all come from adopting agile principles into ways of working. 

Kanban has been around for many years now, like 80 years at least, originally developed by Taiichi Ohno for Toyota automotive in Japan. And this way of working has been mainly used by Engineers, IT and other fairly hands on industries. Not something mainstream Accountants considered using, up to now. 

But why is this changing? Surely with IT systems and processes in place, our accounting lives were meant to become easier and simpler – not requiring thinking about changing ways of working? Systems and processes are only as good as the data that goes into them and the receipt and processing of this data for the purposes of tax, management, project and other types of reporting still relies on Accountants and their ways of working. 

What I’ve seen is that moving toward more Agile ways of working in the Finance function, along with the rest of the business, can enable productivity and reduce burn-out. Looking to what we know works, and in this case Kanban has been working for north of 80 years. 

Simply put, Kanban is a way of working through visualisation (as in literally drawing it up) of all the tasks we do during a specific process. Then look at understanding what is eating away at our time like ehem… meetings, and realistically taking ownership of how much is doable within that time period. Sounds simple, right? Reality is, there are a couple more rules to ensure this works for you. 

In the next few months, in partnership with Chartered Accountants ANZ, AxisAgile and Project Accounting Australia will be running a series of workshops, which will open your mind to frameworks like Cynefin, Kanban, Scrum and business Agility. These will be limited to 20 people per virtual workshop on a first come first serve basis. 

To not miss out on this limited opportunity, click here to register.