Conference Speakers Offer Insight Into Lean Accounting

The concept of lean accounting has been grabbing considerable attention lately. It was the topic of one of the speakers at last week’s Financial Executives International (FEI) Summit 2006 and the 2nd Annual Lean Accounting Summit is planned for September 21 and 22 in Orlando, Florida.


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Lean accounting is often thought of as applying only to manufacturing enterprises. It may have its roots and strongest supporters in manufacturing, however, as Orest (Orry) Fiume, retired Vice President of Finance for the Wiremold Company, pointed out at the FEI Summit: “Lean is a business strategy, not a manufacturing tactic or a cost reduction program.”

In practice, lean accounting is a move away from familiar “batch” accounting, which must be a company-wide strategy because the biggest hurdles to its implementation are existing accounting and computer systems. Fiume’s session at FEI dealt primarily with the leadership role upper management must take in implementing lean accounting, as well as describing how Wiremold accomplished it.

A more in-depth understanding of lean accounting will be found at the 2006 Lean Accounting Summit in September. The theme of this years’ summit, “Bridging the Gap between Lean and Accounting,” was selected to illustrate how operations and accounting often see operational improvements differently.

Joining Fiume at the September event will be keynote speakers Dr. James Womack, founder and president of the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), Richard Schonberger, president of Schonberger & Associates and Norman Bodek, president of PCS, Inc. Womack has authored several cornerstone books about the lean enterprise, including Lean Solutions, The Machine that Changed the World and Lean Thinking and is the subject’s internationally recognized authority.

“To have a man of Jim’s stature as our keynote presenter gives great legitimacy to this emerging movement known as lean accounting,” Jim Huntzinger, founder and president of the Lean Accounting Summit, commented in a prepared statement announcing Womack’s involvement in the Summit. “Add to that an additional 20 operations and accounting thought-leaders and it’s no wonder why so many people are excited about the summit.”

The Lean Accounting Summit is presented by the Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME), the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and Flexware Innovation, Inc. The first summit, in Dearborn Michigan, drew more than 300 attendees.

“This movement is in its infancy, so it’s difficult to project just how many people will attend,” Dwayne Butcher, Communications Manager for the Summit, said in a prepared statement. “Right now, we’re estimating more than 500, but wouldn’t be surprised to see it swell to over 700.”
Details about the Lean Accounting Summit can be found at www.leanaccountingsummit.com.

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