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Stone-Age Bank Reconciliation
Industry: Hospital Affiliation, corporate office
Employees Affected: 8-10+
The Pain Point
A second, smaller office location was being consolidated into the main corporate office, with very few staff transferring. Everyone’s workload was about to increase because of a current hiring freeze in order to meet the new workload requirements.
Is anyone ever happy to do that? Certainly not for a long-term period, and likely not for a short-term period either.
The task that could provide the most time-savings was the one that involved the most employees and that required the most amount of time to complete. In this scenario, that was the bank reconciliation task as there was one per hospital and at least one assigned per employee.
The old process is one many will be familiar with: pages and pages of paper and various colored highlighters! It was so easy to make errors that would require ticking-and-tying of transactions again. What made these hospital bank reconciliations even more tedious was that you not only matched the bank items to the funding documents, but the funding documents had to be matched against the details of the patient account records. Most of these bank recons took 4-5 business days (that’s 32-40 hours) per month, EACH!
I went to work on an Excel template that took data dump reports from all different platforms (bank, patient accounting, general ledger, etc.) and utilized formulas to automate the matching task. This template was more automated, removed redundancies, decreased errors, improved visibility of discrepancies (making them easier to resolve), improved documentation for management review, and it always balanced to the penny!
The best part? The new reconciliation process required just 1-2 business days to complete. That saved an average of 24 hours per month, per reconciliation. At 8-10 of these, that saved the accounting department about 192-240 hours per month. That’s more than one full-time equivalent.
And that’s just one task out of the many I worked on.
Industry: Commercial Real Estate Developer and Property Manager
Employees Affected: 2+
The Pain Point
The company's assistant controller was looking to shorten the monthly financial close and was also missing reporting deadlines due to information not being received on time.
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.
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 this person to get a task completed and they usually end up missing their 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!”
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 was hanging her up. It 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 yet no one in the company knew this. Eureka! I was an Excel guru and I knew just how to solve this invoicing problem so that all affected could find some relief.
I worked on creating a template and tested it out prior to approaching the accounting team. Once I felt confident that it would be favorably received, I asked them to let me walk them through the new process I created during her next month’s billings. They obliged, and after updating the template, uploading it, and verifying it worked, the employee responsible for billing 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.