The era of best practice is over

It’s bad news for finance directors. When it comes to improving the finance function, there is no silver bullet. There is no super new technical wizardry or consultancy sleight of hand that will transform things overnight. And there is most definitely no such thing as best practice, no one-size-fits-all approach that will make your finance troubles go away. Continue reading

What is ‘lean thinking’?

I’ve spent much of the last few weeks working on process improvement, productivity and efficiency savings. One of the topics that has come up time and time again is ‘lean thinking’. However, it is often held up as a panacea for all kinds of ills, with little in the way of explanation or justification. So here, in a nutshell, is my beginners guide. Continue reading

The costs of sharing corporate services

In a report issued today, the National Audit Office has concluded that government attempts to save money by sharing ‘back office’ services such as finance and human resources have actually ended up costing more money than they have saved. It appears that by¬†creating complex services overly tailored to individual departments, the five shared services centres review by the NAO have increased costs and reduced flexibility. There has also been a failure, the report says, to develop the benchmarks necessary for measuring performance. Continue reading