• Jamie Skinner

Pain Point & Solution: Process Bottleneck

Even if you have dialed in a process as much as you can, your level of efficiency may still have a sticking point that is out of your hands.

The Pain Point

In my years of corporate accounting jobs, I can recall so many instances of missed deadlines being caused by not receiving needed information timely. My coworkers and I would grumble in exasperation because missing the deadline really wasn’t our fault! It was the fault of someone in another department who was delayed in their work. A request would be made to please get the item sent over on time, so we weren’t scrambling last minute. This would repeat month, after month, after month. Here lies a process bottleneck.

Why can’t they just get their work done on time?!

The Solution

I have always found that repeatedly expressing frustration to the other person does not usually result in more timely submissions, but rather avoidance, especially if they feel like the issue is out of their control. It is best to approach the problem with a collaborative mindset.

“Oh hey, I see that this spreadsheet tends to get here late each month. That really creates a time constraint for me to get a task completed and I usually end up missing my deadline. Is there something specific causing you to turn it in late? Maybe we can try to come up with a solution to nip that in the bud!”

This collaborative approach almost always results in the other person being more open to working on a solution. You are helping them to understand how their lack of timeliness affects your workflow and that you are hoping to find a favorable result for both of you.

There is little motivation for them to change if you are only looking out for yourself, but if the process bottleneck stems from a headache they are experiencing, they should be on board to find a fix. If there is no headache on their end, you are not likely to resistance to change so long as the fix does not require more time or resources for them.

The best solution will be one that creates an efficiency for both them and you – a WIN-WIN situation! This collaborative mindset flows into my process for increased efficiencies. The greatest efficiencies are gained when looking at a process from start to finish to get clarity on the entire picture.

Real-Life Example

Back in 2013 I worked for a commercial real-estate developer. Business was booming as he was snatching up properties at lightning speed, fixing them up, and then leasing them out. I was the assistant controller and looking to shorten the financial close process during this period of growth.

When it came time each month for one accounting staff member to invoice tenant billings, it seemed she was barely getting it done by that day’s closing and I could see the desperation she felt working with such a clunky process. It was taking her a good 8 hours and holding up others in their work. Instead of telling her she needed to get the work done faster, I sat with her one day to see what her current process was and pick her brain about what she felt the Process Bottlenecks were. Turns out it was simply a very manual, tedious process.

I found the manual for the software platform being used (it was for property management accounting) and began studying it diligently. After some reading, I discovered that this software was capable of uploading Excel templates. Eureka! I was an Excel guru and I just knew that I could fix my coworker’s problem so that all affected could find some relief.

I did not expect her to run wild with my discovery, but rather I created a template and tested it out prior to approaching her. Once I felt confident that it would be favorably received, I asked her to let me walk her through the new process I created during her next month’s billings. She obliged, and after updating the template, uploading it, and verifying it worked, she was beyond ecstatic at the results! The new process took her 30 minutes to do what used to take her 8 hours! Now the data was ready for others sooner and was, in fact, more reliable since it was not input manually line-by-line.

If you’re interested to see how I could help your team overcome a Process Bottleneck, contact me for a free consultation!

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