Streamline Through Effective, Paperless, Electronic Payments

Category: Process Improvement Project

Streamline Through Effective, Paperless, Electronic Payments

June 13, 2024 | 8:39 am

Is your organization thinking about electronic payments? Worried about risk and efficiency? Here is how one organization successfully implemented a just-in-time, efficient, and effective paperless electronic payment process.

Case study: Streamline Through Effective, Paperless, Electronic Payments

Refine Operations Roles and Responsibilities to Increase Community Impact

May 22, 2024 | 11:18 am

What level of community impact is your team looking to create this year? One source of community impact comes through the effective delivery of service or operations.

Recently, as part of our sector survey, we found that community foundations and nonprofits are transitioning from traditional operations roles to new ways of delivering better, more consistent results and impact to their community. Learn more:

Refine Operations Roles and Responsibilities to Increase Community Impact
• Our executive summary. Innovation Operations Survey Summary

As founder and president of Innovation Process Design, Lee Kuntz has spent over two decades using process improvement to solve the unique challenges faced by leaders of complex service organizations. Through expert training and coaching, she helps teams look at their work with new eyes, transform how work gets done, and create real results. Contact Lee with questions or to talk about what you see and what you want to achieve.

Experience an IPD Coached Process Deep Dive

April 25, 2024 | 9:01 am

Operations—the work done to execute an organization’s mission—is critical to achieving success.

Are you looking to improve processes and related the operations outcomes of your organization? Are you looking to make service to your community better, faster or more impactful?

Our coached process deep dive helps teams see and solve their process pain points. They improve quality, reduce turn-around time and deliver more efficiently and effectively to their community. Experience our virtual and in-person process deep dive in this short video. And contact Lee Kuntz to talk about what that would look like for your organization and goals.

IPD Coached Process Deep Dive Video Link

How Efficient Are Your Internal Controls?

March 20, 2024 | 7:27 am

Internal controls are one of the most important values a chief financial officer (CFO) can bring to an organization. Yet many assume business process improvement and the imposition of internal controls are the same thing or that they can’t exist together. The truth is that when controls are both efficient and effective, their value goes from good to great.

Perceptions

Internal controls—the accounting and auditing processes used in a company’s finance and operations departments that ensure the integrity of financial reporting and regulatory compliance—are a key component of financial success. Whether CFOs’ focus is on separation of duties, reconciliations, or approvals, they spend hundreds of hours a year designing, training, and enforcing internal controls.

Because of this investment in process considerations, some believe internal controls and business process improvement are the same thing. CFOs who think this way might say, “We have good controls; therefore our processes are solid.” Others believe that streamlining and speeding up processes by removing third and fourth reviews will make controls weaker. Their theory is that making controls more efficient means that some “control” corners may be cut.

But successful CFOs know that every process needs to be well controlled if results are to be delivered while maximizing resources. For example, the accounts payable process must function smoothly so that valid payments are made in an accurate, timely, and efficient manner. The path to well-controlled, efficient, and effective processes is what business process improvement is all about.

A Process Example

Recently I talked with an organization that had received many concerning comments in its external audit. The newly hired CFO immediately installed new and more expansive internal controls. One addition required that a purchase order be created for all items over $50. This purchase order needed three levels of approval. Invoices for the ordered items needed to be approved for payment by three levels. And checks in payment of the invoices had to be reviewed by four levels. As a result of the new internal controls, the organization’s negative audit comments disappeared. Yet these new steps slowed the process down.

In this organization, program operations employees completed these purchase orders and invoice reviews. They were the same employees taking heat from the board of directors for not serving the community fast enough or well enough. Adding more approval steps was achieving an appropriate degree of quality control, but it was also expanding the staff’s workload. How could the organization both serve the community as needed and maintain tight controls?

This team used business process improvement to solve this conundrum. First, we outlined the goals of the process, including the need for airtight internal controls. Then the team rebuilt the processes, identifying value-added steps and waste. Some of these wasted steps were the creating and fixing errors, commonly called rework. The process went from 110 steps to 64 steps despite internal controls increasing significantly. Assured that their concerns had been appropriately addressed, the auditors signed on off the new process. With a well-founded, secure process in place, both the organization and the community achieved a win.

Conclusion

Every organization needs to have solid internal controls in place to fulfill its mission with confidence and integrity. Business process improvement is an excellent way to build controls into work steps without compromising effectiveness and efficiency.

About Lee Kuntz and Innovation Process Design

As founder and president of Innovation Process Design, Lee Kuntz has spent over two decades using process improvement to solve the unique challenges faced by leaders of complex service organizations. Through expert training and coaching, she helps teams look at their work with new eyes, transform how work gets done, and create real results. Contact Lee with questions or to talk about your situation and what you want to achieve.

Do You Have Opportunities to Improve Process?

January 17, 2024 | 2:19 pm

As the new year begins, you may wonder whether there are ways your team can improve process. I am frequently asked about this, and based on my experience and certifications, I see critical feedback as a sign of a potential process improvement opportunity.

Feedback as an Indicator

As an organization that seeks to make a positive impact on your community, you undoubtedly receive feedback from many parties. The kind of feedback you receive can help you pinpoint areas where process improvement might be both warranted and achievable.

Is any of this feedback familiar to you?

  • Your board is challenging the organization to deliver more to the community.
  • There is board pressure to keep costs and resources at current levels despite inflation.
  • Visionary senior leaders are looking for the next level of impact or service.
  • Community members are asking for more help and/or for help to be delivered more quickly.
  • Funders are asking for a greater community impact from their investment.
  • Employees are communicating that they are overwhelmed with work or are at risk of leaving.
  • Partners are seeking ways to work together more effectively so they can help others.
  • Regulators are asking your organization to deliver services to the community in a timelier manner.

 

These parties all want you to do more with what you have. You can close your ears to this feedback, or you can treat this feedback as a golden opportunity to apply proven process improvement techniques that address the identified concerns. Taking a deep dive to assess your processes can enhance how work is done and can change outcomes for the better.

Opportunity Knocks!

So, does your organization have an opportunity to improve process? If you have received critical feedback from any key parties, the answer is yes. To learn more about your team’s potential to improve the way your work is done, contact me to talk through what you see. Others have improved processes to better serve their community. You can too!

About Lee Kuntz and Innovation Process Design

As founder and president of Innovation Process Design, Lee Kuntz has spent over two decades using process improvement to solve the unique challenges faced by leaders of complex service organizations. Through expert training and coaching, she helps teams look at their work with new eyes, transform how work gets done, and create real results. Contact Lee with questions or to talk about your situation and what you want to achieve.

Thrive During the Busy Donation Season Through this Best Practice

October 19, 2023 | 12:32 pm

Many foundations and nonprofits receive the majority of their contributions during November and December. This makes for a busy donation season, which can result in employee stress and delayed responses to donors and grantees. Instead, some teams take one hour to conduct a process walk through, which enables them to thrive during this busy season.

The Best Practice to Create Capability
The volume of work during this time can overwhelm normally adequate processes and capacity. A way to create capacity and to firm up processes during the upcoming onslaught is to conduct a one-hour process walk through of any high-volume processes. This best practice reminds employees of how work needs to be done, identifies sticking points and engages the team in making backlogs visible and solvable.

An effective process walk through follows specific steps. Here is a link to my firm’s IPD Process Talk Walk through Best Practices. Feel free to print this document and use it during your process walk through.

And contact me with any questions or to talk about what you see during busy season. As a process coach and trainer, I have seen teams go from drowning to thriving during November and December. Your team can also.

People Are at the Heart of Improving Process and Outcomes

September 5, 2023 | 9:06 am

Throughout the 23 years I have been a process improvement coach and trainer, I have learned that people are the most important factor in achieving process improvement success. Yes, methodologies, training, and tools are important. But engaging the people doing the work in a way that increases their readiness for improving the way they work is the most important element.

In a recent conversation with one of my clients, I was reminded of the power of engaging and readying staff for process improvement. This leader moved from the CFO role in one foundation to a similar role in another. Both foundations are huge and healthy with big growth ahead of them. This experienced leader had brought my firm in to the first foundation to help him create capacity to take on that big growth. He anticipated the busy season ahead and knew the workload would be unmanageable unless he took action.

During our training, we built both the skills and will to improve how work is done. See how this looks in this video: Energized, Inspired, and Engaged.

My firm also conducted a process deep dive with this leader’s team to recapture capacity in their donor advised fund (DAF) grants operations. See how a deep dive looks in this short video: IPD Process Deep Dive Experience. The team redesigned their process to cut the time to do a DAF grant by 40 percent. That meant delivering grants and confirmations faster to donors and freeing employees up to enjoy the year-end holidays.

Last month I reconnected with this leader to congratulate him on his new CFO role. He mentioned that he brought the language of process improvement with him to his second organization. He said, “We constantly look for and talk about finding unproductive tasks, exactly as I learned to do in your training.”

Because this leader identified the challenges ahead, learned key process transformation concepts, and took action to implement them, he has now been able to lead two teams to improve how work is done. As a result, both he and the two organizations he has worked for have streamlined their operations and increased employee satisfaction. You and your organization can achieve these favorable results too.

Contact Lee Kuntz at lee@improveprocess.net if you see pain points in how your organization’s work is done or if you seek to improve the outcomes your organization delivers to your community.

About Lee Kuntz and Innovation Process Design
As founder and president of Innovation Process Design, Lee Kuntz has spent over two decades using process improvement to solve the unique challenges faced by leaders of complex service organizations. Through expert training and coaching, she helps teams look at their work with new eyes, transform how work gets done, and create real results. Contact Lee with questions or to talk about your situation and what you want to achieve.

Nonprofit Builds Muscles to Deliver More Community Assistance

September 5, 2023 | 2:06 pm

Is doing more for your community one of your organization’s goals?

Situation

A community action agency (CAP) was working hard to address all the energy assistance requests from their community while tracking with funder regulations. The agency’s energy assistance department was draining funds from the rest of the agency rather than being self-sustaining as it was supposed to be. To compound these challenges, the team was going into energy assistance season down two staff. How was this team going to meet its community’s energy assistance needs with fewer staff, yet still perform well in the government’s regulatory audit?

Solution

The director of energy assistance met with IPD’s Lee Kuntz to share the team’s goals and challenges. Lee then recommended IPD’s four-hour Think Differently Concepts™ skill building workshop and a one-day coached deep dive into energy assistance processes and operations to help employees identify, accept, and solve the problems that were hampering their operations.

Lee then provided the training workshop and coached the fourteen-person energy assistance team through the one-day process deep dive. Through this work, the staff began to understand that operations pain points were caused by their poor process, not people. With this new understanding, the staff engaged, using their workshop time to identify the process steps that were essential and effective, and those that were not. This coached team reduced energy assistance application intake from 77 steps to 45 better steps. Then staff members generated numerous ideas on how to improve their energy assistance operations. After IPD handed off the project to the energy assistance director, who led the team in implementing the ideas over the next several weeks. IPD delivered what it promised on budget and on time.

Results

As a result of IPD’s workshop and the team’s hard work, the agency was able to hit its regulator’s turnaround time deadlines with fewer staff, due to recapturing over 2,000 work hours, and at lower cost during the next energy assistance season. The team also received fewer regulatory audit comments. Now, the team continues to improve how it delivers energy assistance services to its community.

Build Process and System Success through a One-time Process Investment

April 19, 2023 | 2:17 pm

Is your organization installing new technology this year? You are not alone. About 50% of organizations are installing new software this year. And that is not about to change.

Given the cost of technology, managing new software installation and maximizing technology is now a core piece of organization work. Here is a story of one organization’s journey to build their skills to make software pay for itself.

Build Process and System Success through a One-time Process Investment.

To learn more about how today’s nonprofit is maximizing software, check out our newly published article: Bust these myths and save 2,800 hours in day-to-day operations.

 

IPD’s March 2023 Newsletter and Process Tip

March 29, 2023 | 11:20 am

Operations process tip for the quarter: Look at each step of the work you do to see if that specific step adds value to your community. If it does not, consider whether this step can feasibly be improved or removed, thereby recapturing your time.

Workshop invitation: Process Transformation and Training Cohort Workshop™.
Is your foundation being held back by a process that no longer works as it should? If your answer to this question is yes, check out our next Process Transformation and Training Cohort Workshop™. It is an affordable way to improve the outcomes from your foundation’s processes. Contact Lee Kuntz with questions about the workshop.

See a process deep dive happen: IPD Process Deep Dive Experience Video

Newly published article: Bust these myths and save 2,800 hours annually in day-to-day operations: Software has become a significant expense for organizations. Yet even as they invest tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in software platforms, many fail to make a much smaller investment in an intensive process transformation, enabling them to maximize the benefits of new software, increase their positive impact in the community, and improve their skills so as to be prepared for future implementations of technology projects and tools. Read the full article at: Philanthropy news | PND.

How was your end-of-year rush? Did your team work long hours under significant stress? Did they struggle to keep up leading to complaints from their community? The good news is that your employees do not have to be pushed to exhaustion as they tackle year-end duties. Learn more: How Did Your End-of-Year Rush Go?

This year, plan to succeed! Use process improvement to transform outcomes: Is your organization planning and budgeting for the next fiscal year? Are you tired of fighting the same pain points year after year, such as overwhelming workloads, demands for better or faster results, or challenges in how to maximize costly technology? During this year’s budgeting and planning season, consider investing in a coached process deep dive to recapture capacity and solve pain points. This Year, Plan to Succeed!

Contact Lee today to discuss your challenge.