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Get Results: Improve your Accounting Firm Processes Using Lean Six Sigma

In this article the author, Dustin Hostetler, provides an example of how Lean Six Sigma techniques can be used to improve processes in the business office environment.   This article begins with a very high level overview of what Lean Six Sigma is, a methodology used by manufacturing firms to improve internal processes.   Lean Six Sigma is a combination of two concepts, “lean” manufacturing which concentrates on improving efficiency and “six sigma” which focuses on quality.   Both of these concepts are combined together to highlight process inefficiencies and waste that can adversely affect a company’s bottom line. This allows the business to implement steps to improve those inefficiencies, and eliminate the waste.  
Next, the author briefly discusses how his CPA firm, Rea & Associates, Inc., began the process of instituting Lean Six Sigma.   After the initial decision was made to begin using Lean Six Sigma the firm incurred approximately a years worth of startup costs.   Although no dollar amount of the startup cost was given the author did disclose some of the components of these costs:   education, an initial test project, and Lean Six Sigma process modifications.   The education component covered the tuition costs associated with Black Belt and Master Black Belt certification programs and the process modification component was to adjust the Lean Six Sigma process to better fit into the CPA firm’s office environment.   At this point the author then goes into main component of his article, the use of Lean Six Sigma methods to improve the firm’s tax return program.
Hostetler began his Lean Six Sigma process by first identifying and classifying the types of waste and non-value added activities that were a part of the firm’s tax return processing program.   The author found many different types of inefficiencies in the process. Among the inefficiencies that he...