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Accounting Best Practices, Fifth Edition by Steven M. Bragg Englewood, Colorado

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12–17. Convert Serial Activities to Parallel Ones

A common problem, especially in smaller accounting departments, is that a considerable amount of wait time is built into the process because there are too many activities being conducted in a serial manner—that is, one process does not start until another is finished. A good example is in a small organization where just one person is in charge of completing several processing steps and does not have time to advance to additional tasks until the first one is complete. The same problem occurs in large organizations but usually not due to a lack of staffpower. Instead, the information that flows into one process must be supplied by another task, so the preceding step must be completely finished before the next one can be started. These issues create a great deal of difficulty in reducing the time needed to complete financial statements.

The solution is to convert serial activities into parallel ones. A parallel activity is one which can be completed without any need for data from a preceding process. An example of several parallel closing activities is shown in Exhibit 12.3, which depicts the accounts receivable, accounts payable, fixed assets, and payroll processes. Only in one case, where the final detail of the accounts payable process is needed as the starting point for the fixed assets process, is there any linkage between the separate processes. The trick to making this best practice work is to separate the individual processes ...

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