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So far, we’ve only introduced the subject of Lean Operations: the concept of finding and reducing or eliminating waste. Explore Chapter 14 and other Lean Management references for this assignment.
Finding and reducing waste in service processes may be more difficult than in manufacturing operations, but it is definitely possible and potentially very rewarding. Lean thinking has been applied to the legal profession, healthcare services, accounting, software development, and more. So let’s consider the following scenario:
Assume all of these are happening
You are in the accounting (specifically Accounts Payable) department of your mid-sized ($45 million) US-based firm. You handle approving payments made to vendors.
Your standard process assumes that internally your operations department has requested and approved permission to order some specific product or service at a certain price in a certain quantity.
Your procurement department found an approved vendor to provide that product or service as specified.
Your internal document trail has:
The original request with authorizations
The executive management approval
The procurement approval and selected vendor
The purchase order number for the contract / purchase agreement with the vendor
The vendor’s acceptance of the order and their payment terms
The vendor’s sales department has record of the sale
The vendor has documents proving the manufacture and shipment of your order
The shipping firm (if not their own) has documents for the receipt of the product from the vendor and transportation to your facility
Your receiving dock has documents noting the date, time, quantity, and acceptable quality of the product being received
All four criteria for revenue recognition are met
You have easy timely access to all of your internal documentation
Both you and this vendor have sophisticated information systems with state-of-the-art security and disaster recovery systems. These are mature systems and processes and proven via external audits performed every year.
Original Post (due when noted on the Course Schedule)
One of your team members has suggested the possibility of no longer requiring invoices from you major vendors to reduce the amount of invoice processing spent in the Accounts Payable department. (“No invoices” means no paper or electronic invoices.) Determine whether you would or would not support working with such vendors (ones that meet the assumptions above just as your company meets the assumptions above) to develop an ongoing process so that (1) they would not have to generate invoices and (2) you would not need to process their invoices – but you would authorize payment to them upon receipt of the material or service.
If implemented, both parties save significant time in their accounting departments. Do not document this new process in detail – discuss why you would not support it or why you would. You do not need to have references, but you can if they help the reader.
As Part 1 of this assignment, write 500 to 600 words beginning with “I do support ….” or “I do not support …” – you do not need to copy all of that stuff above! Your response will need 3-5 paragraphs, don’t try to put all of this in a single paragraph – remember to write professionally. There are valid arguments for either choice – we’re interested in how you support your choice, not which choice you make.
Include legal (US-based), auditing, control, finance, warehouse, procurement, and any other dimensions to your discussion. Mention (do not detail) any issues that might need to be worked out if you do decide to implement such a process. Know what information is and is not on a typical invoice, when it is generated, and who has access to its information (don’t embarrass yourself).
Do your research on this (especially audit and legal) – don’t jump to a particular conclusion and build your argument around your preconceived idea. Most students have incorrect ideas about what an invoice is and how it is actually used. You should complete your study of Chapter 15 and consider a quick review of Chapter 14 (even though we don’t study lean methodology for about another month).


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