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Like any process that has a customer, there can be opportunity to make improvements, whether the improvements are to improve the cycle time of the audit or to improve the accuracy of the audit. We worked with a state IRS department that mentioned, “Our customers don’t like it when we audit them. They hate us!” But, even when the situation is less that desirable, customers still have expectations around how the process will go, and how long it will take. Wouldn’t it be great to have an effective and efficient process in a situation like this?

The best place to start is to define who the customer is by process. Then, define what parts of the process customers might value. Then begin to identify waste in the process. For example, the waste of waiting. Where in the process is the customer waiting? Are there points in the process where the customer is waiting on the auditing agency? How can steps in the process be designed better and be more efficient for the customer, not just the auditing agency? Get familiar with the 8 Wastes and see how much waste can be discovered in the process. The first step is seeing the waste!

Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at UC San Diego and teaches in San Diego State University’s Lean Enterprise Program. For almost 20 years, she has helped leading organizations like Washington State, Charles Schwab and GE build problem-solving muscles.