March Madness

by: Earl Blackmon

“I love March Madness!” I heard the disc jockey say this on my drive in from work earlier this week. Well, I do too. March Madness is highly anticipated each year for its classic confrontations and untimely upsets. Although we expect certain outcomes, tensions rise because it’s an intense time when the unexpected can happen, and usually does.

Of course, the sports station announcer was talking about basketball and the NCAA tournament in particular. For those of us who are CPAs in public accounting the term “March Madness” can mean something much different. The “madness” can adversely affect us and those around us. It is highly anticipated each year. We know what is expected. Tension rises because it can be intense. And the unexpected will certainly happen.

I was thinking about this again on March 15th as our team was celebrating the entity deadline over crawfish and beverages. What has allowed Hartmann, Blackmon & Kilgore, P C. (hb&k) to get to the point where deadlines are anticipated and not dreaded?

Lean SixSigma has made a huge difference in our practice. Some time ago, we put our entity and individual tax processes through a Lean analysis. We assembled a subject matter team of experts (members of our staff) and conducted a Kaizen event coordinated by outside facilitators, which helped us to identify and eliminate wasteful activity in the processes.

Over a period of two or three months our team came up with what they believe to be the best process, or as they call it, the “hb&k way” to prepare tax returns, and we rolled that out to the firm. This has made a huge difference in our highly anticipated “March Madness”. We are much better equipped for the unexpected, so we do have fewer untimely upsets.

There is much more to say and I could go on, but suffice it to say that Lean SixSigma has made a noticeable difference in our practice. The changes at hb&k are such that we have been able to reduce overtime while improving productivity and maintaining quality. Lean can make a big difference in your work too. Your team can be more efficient and proficient in what they are doing and I would love to talk with you about how you can accomplish that.

We are not perfect and continue to make improvements to our processes each year. Like the teams in the NCAA, we spend months preparing for “March Madness” and are working every day to be at our best and make advancements. Continuous improvement is a key concept of Lean and we endeavor to work smarter, not harder.

If Lean SixSigma sounds like something you would like to know more about from our perspective, or hear about hb&k’s experience, please reach out to me.