Financial Planning Process Improvement With Storyboarding

9/22/15

Does anyone dispute that the budgeting and forecasting processes are necessary overhead activities? How painful was your recent process? Are there areas you could improve? As a Lodestar Solutions Business Analytics Coach, many clients feel there are so many areas for improvement that they don’t know where to start.

At Lodestar Solutions, we coach our clients to use Storyboarding. Storyboarding is a highly impactful technique that identifies where you can streamline processes, optimize staff, and get focused. And it’s so simple!

Unlike traditional methodologies, storyboarding is told from the perspective of the end user. This is key!  Storyboarding is a method to identify what has the most impact or benefit to the recipients or users.

Whether it’s improving a process, developing a software solution, or anything that has to be delivered to users, storyboarding will reduce development & implementation time, eliminate frustration, and increase end users satisfaction.

The laser focus from storyboarding:

  • Dramatically reduces inefficiencies by cutting time and costs
  • Identifies risks and bottle necks in current process
  • Identifies areas of systemization and automation

Additional risk eliminating benefits are:

  • Full understanding of the process from start to finish
  • Cross training of FP&A team members

HOW DO I STORYBOARD TO IMPROVE MY BUDGET? Storyboarding is the simple process of organizing thoughts and ideas with sticky notes.  Why does Lodestar Solutions suggest using Sticky notes you ask?

In his book, Change by Design, Tim Brown, CEO of the design and innovation company Ideo, recommends the Post-it Note as a perfect tool for brainstorming, because it provides a way to converge on a solution when many possibilities exist. Here’s his Ted Talk on “Design Thinking” http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_urges_designers_to_think_big?language=en

So go get stacks of super sticky notes (The super part is critical!) and start breaking down the experience that users have which we call “stories”. This should be done from the perspective of both end users and power users. If you struggle with the concept of a story, think of a “day in the life of”, how they use it, what challenges do they have, etc.

Pick a user and start writing each major theme/information they need on separate sticky notes and place them in a horizontal line on a wall as you discuss the story. You will identify challenges they have in the current process and areas of frustrations. You can then prioritize them and move the order around to sharpen the focus. Then, vertically under each theme are the more detailed steps written on a separate sticky note. Who are the users or contributors in that process? How are they connected? How can it be made better? How can it be automated? What are the risk points?

Storyboarding allows you to focus on a particular part while understanding how it’s integrated into the entire process.

Financial Planning Process Improvement

If you are in the budget or forecasting process or just completed it, it’s a great time to host a Storyboard Workshop while it fresh in everyone’s mind.

Your Storyboard Workshop should be open to anybody involved in the process. Include all the people the process touches because it aids them in understanding how their piece impacts the process. It will also clearly highlight bottlenecks, waste, and risk areas.

Clearly, this is a summary of the process in its most basic form. Lodestar Solutions experienced Business Analytics Coaches, in conjunction with HeatherizedTM, have developed a Storyboarding Playbook and facilitator tool kit. To get a free copy of Lodestar’s Storyboarding Playbook and start reducing costs, risks, and frustrations, email Sales@LodestarSolutions.com with the promotional code STORYBOARD15.

Lodestar Solutions coaches use Storyboards for all our projects whether it’s implementing a software solution for a client, developing new coaching programs & materials, or marketing campaigns & strategic planning endeavors.

If you need assistance facilitating your Storyboarding Workshop, contact our experienced Lodestar Business Analytics Coaches at Sales@LodestarSolutions.com.  And don’t forget to opt-in to the Lodestar Solutions Community on our website’s homepage to receive free education and details on upcoming events.

Written/Published MB 9-22-15

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