Oct 20, 2021

Business Process Assessment: Taking Stock of Structure, Staffing, and Systems

Gretchen NasoBy Gretchen Naso

Certain questions keep business owners and executives up at night:

  • Are we maximizing our existing technology and systems?
  • Do we have the right people in the right seats?
  • Are we missing opportunities?

Answering them can transform an organization and help push it through a performance plateau, achieve growth goals, or gain a competitive advantage. It may seem daunting, but there is a proven method to help organizations take stock of their structure, staffing, and systems – a business process assessment. In this blog I’ll explain this type of assessment, scenarios where it’s needed the most, what the process looks like, and what benefits can result.

What Is a Business Process Assessment and Who Should Conduct It?

CPA viewing global workforce options onlineSome may think pinpointing a troublesome issue within an organization is pretty simple. In reality, these issues often have multiple root causes that span various functions, systems, and personnel. A business process assessment takes stock of functional operations at a high level, pinpoints inefficiencies or bottlenecks, and recommends solutions that advance strategic goals.

A CFO or financial professional reading this may think, “That sounds simple enough. I’ll tackle it myself.” These same professionals, however, are at the mercy of day-to-day tasks, pop-up crises, and a wish list of longer-term projects to tackle. Adding another initiative just isn’t in the cards.

Beyond personal bandwidth issues, business process assessments work best and produce the most impactful reforms when conducted by a third party. An outside professional brings a fresh perspective, can challenge the status quo with fewer repercussions, and isn’t hampered by the institutional history and baggage that can weigh down this type of effort. An independent business consultant with cross-functional expertise in operations, finance, and technology can apply best practices and provide different options to help an organization realize the end goal of an optimized accounting or finance function.

What Might Trigger a Business Process Assessment?

Many symptoms (within the finance function and beyond) can indicate the need for business process assessment. Here are some of the most common:

  • Poor alignment between back-office operations and company strategy
  • Lack of transparent and timely financial or operational information
  • High turnover in the accounting function
  • Inability to scale and keep pace with growth
  • Inadequate integration between systems
  • Highly siloed departments or functions
  • Lack of agility to adapt to new opportunities in marketplace
What Should You Expect from a Business Process Assessment?

A business process assessment involves a lot of listening and learning. There will be interviews of key team members and reviews of policies, procedures, system-generated reports, and other documentation. Throughout the process, the consulting team should provide regular status updates to keep management apprised and the project on track.

An assessment typically concludes with a meeting where the consultants will present findings and recommendations. Company leaders can expect to receive a number of deliverables from this process, which may include the following:

  • Revised organization chart/structure
  • Revised position descriptions
  • Process mapping
  • Tech stack recommendations
  • Skills gap assessment
Benefits of a Business Process Assessment

Business process assessments, at their best, are tailored to a company’s unique needs and challenges. A company that undergoes a business process assessment and implements recommended changes will likely experience improved operational efficiency, enhanced reporting, and greater agility. Tangible outcomes include the implementation of best practices; scalable systems and procedures; alignment of business processes with strategy; and the ability to adapt and respond to a changing environment.

Companies can no longer afford to operate with inefficiencies or inadequacies in their people, processes, or technology. A business process assessment is a worthy investment in the future success of an organization and can set the tone for successful and strategic growth moving forward.

Gretchen Naso leads the financial management solutions practice at RKL LLP in Wyomissing, Pa. She can be reached at ggnaso@rklcpa.com.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.