When an employee leaves, it’s a good opportunity to review the work assignments and work processes you have in place before automatically refilling the position.

I was asked the other day to help a small company (about 75 employees) brainstorm how to fill a position for an Accountant that was being vacated because the employee had left for another job. Often the first instinct is to put an ad up and fill the same position as quickly as possible, however during the brainstorming process we came up with several other possible scenarios, which included outsourcing part of the work and dividing up the rest. (As background information, the company already had a Controller in place so the Accountant was not the highest level accounting position in the company).

We came up with the following options:

Payroll – The company was already using a third party payroll provider, so the Accountant position was mostly entering work hours and vacation days, making changes in deduction amounts, processing garnishments, and generally managing the bi-weekly payroll. This portion could be outsourced to an HR firm that was already being contracted to do some of the company’s administrative HR work.

Accounts Payable – Hire an entry level Accounting Clerk to process accounts payable. This would be at a lower wage than the Accountant position.

Accounts Receivable – There were two types of invoicing being done. About 2/3 of the invoices were Fixed Fee invoices. The new entry level Accounting Clerk would be trained on this simpler invoicing. The company was also involved in Time and Materials (T&M) projects that required more detailed invoicing of time and expenses. The process could be changed so that the Project Coordinators would pick up some of this. The Project Coordinators were already responsible for reviewing the T&M invoices for accuracy before they were sent to the customer. They could now prepare the initial draft invoices, which could then go to the Administrative Assistant who could put together back up support if required, and then the Project Coordinators would do a final review before submitting the invoice to the customer.

Miscellaneous accounting work – A few other minor items, such as processing the credit card statements, etc., had been part of the Administrative Assistant’s work. Now those tasks could be part of the new Accounting Clerk’s tasks, freeing up a bit of the administrative assistant’s time to help with operational support.

Why not just replace the previous position as is? That might still be your final decision. However, I recommend going through a brainstorming exercise such as this every time any position opens up. It opens up ideas and possibilities!

Reviewing workflows when an employee leaves

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