Production cells in accounting

The Need for Production Cells in Accounting

When a large number of tasks are handed to a small number of employees in the accounting area, it should be no surprise that the result is a messy department, with multiple piles of work related to the many tasks that are partially completed at any one time. For example, one employee may have a number of filing cabinets jammed into his office, each relating to a different activity.

From the perspective of the accountant who has multiple responsibilities, the day is filled with constant transitions from one task to another, and never being able to put away the paperwork related to the last activity before commencing work on the next one. Conversely, if a reform-minded controller decides to centralize some office equipment or filing cabinets, this only means that employees must now incur extra travel time to and from these locations, depending on their work needs.

Overview of Production Cells

A reasonable solution to this quandary can be found on the production floor, where machine are routinely clustered into production cells. Each of these cells is designed to have a small number of employees produce specific parts, with a simple work layout that allows someone to walk with a part from machine to machine, until all processing is complete. If the concept is shifted to the accounting department, the result will likely be a different departmental layout. For instance, one cubicle could be designed specifically for the processing of supplier invoices, with filing cabinets nearby that contain supplier invoice files, a printer pre-configured to print checks, and a computer terminal that is always logged in to the payables module in the accounting software. The same concept can be applied to any high-volume application, such as customer billings, payroll, and the processing of cash receipts.

There are a few problems with the production cell concept, however. Consider the following situations:

  • Each cell requires a separate work space, which may not be available. If so, block out sections of a single cubicle or office for each production cell.
  • There may be concerns over fraud, when confidential information, customer checks, or blank check stock is left in a cell-specific work area. If so, it may be necessary to tighten access to these areas.