Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Lean Accountant…by Alex Bielawa

Alex Bielawa was a student in my Lean Manufacturing class at CCSU (I teach one class each semester) while he was earning his masters degree in Technology Management. Alex already had his BS in accounting. All this after spending 4 years serving our country in the US Marine Corps, achieving the rank of Corporal. As you know, I consider cost accounting to be a sworn enemy of LEAN....so I challenged Alex NOT to give in to conventional wisdom, and figure out how to apply TPS principles to a non-Lean "world". This is the first of a series of observations as Alex works on our behalf to bring some common sense to cost accounting (lol). One of my most memorable students ever.

Sometime ago, I was asked to write a blog about lean accounting since I had a class project/presentation on lean accounting. I will admit that I was new and a novice of the TPS concept, or idea, or lifestyle. I was not sure how to approach it let alone how to “convince” anyone of this practice and show the truth.

Furthermore, I was not in the right position at a career standpoint to deploy the act of lean practice and the right mindset for it.
However, with some time, more study, and application (no theory), I began to have a better understanding and respect of this lean practice. I do know it takes more than one person and it needs a team filled with respect.

The beauty of this (not ego based) is earning an undergraduate degree in financial accounting (CPA route), becoming a number cruncher or number crusher (cost accounting, and yes I know this can be frowned upon in the lean world, but will earn the CPA), and now pursuing a master’s degree from CCSU in technology management. Most do not know about this hidden gem and the rewards and/or benefits behind it and once found; it really is a seller. Now that you read seller, I have now annoyed you. I do not apologize, but I am just reacting to the world and business we live in. The program is amazing and I am glad to be part of it.

If you are puzzled or wondering where I am going, that is fine. I stated “beauty of this” because I have learned how to analyze so much of a manufacturing business and have the ability to read income statements, P&L statements, this report and that report, headaches because of absorption costing with inventory and balance sheets, and dig into to it asking WHY to find the symptom, not just the cause. Yes, of course, there are useless reports that are customary to a manufacturing business, conversely I have been able to generate reports that become useful for a business that are transparent and drive for continuous improvement, and most importantly respect for people. I wish not to criticize; but wish to teach and instruct to make such and such better. I have only been in the manufacturing industry for just over 33 months and gladly, I landed a job that the company needed someone with at least 60 months of experience. That did not scare me. Since the inception of my employment as a cost accountant at said new company, my 90-day window of orientation consists of understanding the business activity and flow (push), documentation & tracking, and telling everyone I am not here to tell you what to do or how to do your job. I am here to listen to you and to be a voice to senior management to make your job efficient with less stress. It is the beginning of our journey and have not heard one person tell me they are not on board!

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