With the involvement of the finance department in such initiatives right from the beginning, a large amount of assistance and benefits can be achieved.
The Finance Department as a Business Partner
Often people feel that the finance team is all about bookkeeping and accountancy, and making audits and financial reports. However, if the finance team is involved in selection of the Six Sigma projects, then they can prioritize a range of improvement projects to be undertaken by different departments.
The process owner finds the opportunities for improvement, forwards it to the finance team for feasibility study, who in turn will put them into the project pipeline for allocating them to the Black Belts. This saves time of Black Belts allowing starting off with the projects that need immediate attention.
Throughout the DMAIC process, the finance team can review with improvement teams the benefits of the project and agree on the calculation of the benefits. On transferring the project to the process owner, a review can be undertaken to assess the expected benefits of the project on the basis of the data collected in the entire process.
Black Belts need not put in time to calculate the benefits accrued. Once the project is executed, a review can be done after about six months to verify if the expected benefits are achieved. This helps identify any deviations. The Black Belts and the process owners can then make modifications that can bring in the expected improvements.
After about a year on implementation, a review can be done and a new baseline set using the improved KPIs. From there, it is just about the incremental benefits.
The finance department can be involved even before the involvement of the Black Belts and so can support the project even after the Belts move on to the next project.
Benefits of Involving the Finance Department
Integrity: A project team calculates the benefits that can be accrued from the project. However, there is every possibility that they will calculate the potential ones rather than the real ones.
The finance team provides integrity to the calculation of such benefits. They are realistic and allow the teams to focus on improving the KPIs without having to worry about the financial results.
Once the KPIs improve, the bottom line results are bound to improve.
Standardized calculation: The finance team can ensure that all project and areas of improvements have a standard calculation method for the benefits accruable from the project, and compare the results without any inconsistencies.
Avoiding recording incorrect benefits: The finance team will consider the factors beyond the project boundaries while calculating the benefits, which may be missed by the process owners.
Budget mechanism: A new project has to be included into the budget to ensure that the improvements in KPIs are sustained.
Audits: The project benefits are available for audits. Internal teams may also be allowed to undertake audits to review and calculate the benefits.
Accountability: The finance department is responsible and accountable for the proper reporting and to calculate the project results and the benefits achieved.
Proactive Finance team: Having been involved throughout the project, the finance department will find it beneficial in understanding the business even better with all its related factors.