The Lean Accounting Maturity Path

The maturity path for lean accounting is the plan for a successful implementation and for the sustainability of lean accounting. The maturity path will be transition plan to a new system of measurement and control that replaces traditional control processes based upon mass production thinking. Because lean accounting radically changes accounting, control and measurement processes changes must be made prudently and carefully so control of the business is maintained.

Lean accounting is enabled by lean thinking and lean production methods.  As lean practices are introduced operational processes are brought under control and the need for traditional control-by-transaction is eliminated.  The result of a successful implementation of lean accounting is a single system that combines operational and financial planning, reporting and control

The maturity path is important because operational and financial control must be maintained. The traditional cost accounting controls talked about throughout this book do provide a means of controlling a business, even though these are not the proper controls for a lean company. It is unwise to stop using traditional cost accounting controls before new controls are put in place. The development of a maturity path ensures that control will be maintained as lean accounting takes hold in the business.

The first step in developing a lean accounting maturity path is to understand the typical maturity path for lean manufacturing. Stage 1 of the lean manufacturing maturity path is to have successful lean cells in place. Other attributes of Stage 1 of lean manufacturing are extensive lean training, flow established and the creation of standardized work. Stage 2 of the lean maturity path is characterized by the establishment of value stream management, widespread manufacturing in cells using standardized work and single piece flow, extensive use of visual systems and fully functioning continuous improvement teams. Stage 3 of the lean maturity path is the establishment of the lean enterprise, where the business is organized by value streams and lean thinking extends beyond the 4 walls of the factory to customers and suppliers.

The lean accounting maturity path will follow the lean manufacturing maturity path. Therefore it is important for the people in charge of a lean accounting implementation to have a good understanding of how lean manufacturing is introduced and how to measure its success. The best method to accomplish this is to fully participate in continuous improvement planning and activities, such as kaizen events.

My next  3 blogs will discuss each stage of the maturity path in detail.