The 3-Page Change Plan

Posted by  Richard E. Reinderhoff

Improving FP&A means investing in people and systems. It is, however, good practice to map the finance and accounting processes first to see what has to change. It only takes three pages to design a process and identify new roles and responsibilities. The method below has been used to introduce new financial processes and operational reports. It has even identified a systematic risk.

The Method

Before starting any change, a new) strategy, vision or business model should be available. In other words, the ‘why’. It will serve as a guide and constraint for the design process. Normally one starts by mapping the ‘as-is’ situation before the ‘to be’ situation. To shorten the change process, the wishes of those leading the different financial teams can be collected to map the ‘to be’ situation. They also need to provide the conditions to make their suggestions work.

Page 1: The Process

This picture contains the basic managerial structure of an organisation. In this edited example it includes local, regional, and head office. It also shows an ‘IT systems’ level with connections throughout the process, and an ‘archive’ level to identify which documents should be saved for legal and audit purposes. Every employee, or manager, that is not familiar with process thinking or process design will understand this process flow immediately. They will often feel free to correct or adjust the process to their reality or needs.

In this example, one part occurs at all levels. The part marked in red, ‘uncoordinated purchases’, is something that happens, which could be a ‘misappropriation of funds’ risk.

Page 2: The Procedure

Instead of writing long formal procedures, which nobody will read ,except for the writer and auditor, the main tasks are described on a second page. Every function that is doing this task can be identified too. Not mentioning names at this stage avoids politics. Describing the tasks also defines the professional qualifications needed. This is important with new tasks and activities.