Note: There may be some spoilers ahead, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum. 

I’m a pretty huge Marvel Cinematic Universe fan so when I knew it was Wednesday, June 9, 2021, it was time to watch episode 1 of Marvel’s Loki. I was not disappointed. I enjoyed it thoroughly and it looks to be set up for an interesting season.  

Other than the great episode, what caught my eye in the first couple of scenes was how process-driven the Time Variant Authority (TVA) is.  

I know, I know, processes in a Marvel episode. You are on an accounting firm blog, so what did you expect?  

From the very second that Loki is brought into the Time Variant Authorities universe (if we can call it that?), we’re shown just how riddled with processes the TVA truly is. This is a seemingly 5-step process by the TVA that immediately caught my eye:  

 

Step 1 – TVA prisoner outfit

Loki is placed in what appears to be an elevator and is confronted by a robot from horror movies that you see with  menacing arms, saws, and poking utensils ready to disembowel you. The robot asks Loki politely to change into his TVA prisoner outfit. Naturally, he doesn’t comply. He is the God of Mischief after all. What happens? His clothes are zapped off of him, revealing him to be stark naked and he’s dropped downward into the next “elevator” magically with his TVA prisoner outfit on.  

 

Step 2 – You say it, you sign it

After being startled by a cat, Loki meets a man sitting behind his desk. This man doesn’t look afraid at all because, well, the cat is just part of  the process. He wants Loki to confirm and sign off on everything he’s ever said in his life. I definitely thought his stack of paper would be thicker. He attempts to fight back with words, and we’re shown that every time he speaks, a new piece of paper prints out what he says. Loki comes to his senses and realizes he shouldn’t speak now and reluctantly signs off on his life’s work of speech.  

 

Step 3 – Are you a robot?

Loki is transported down another level (is it really down? Is it up? Who knows in the TVA universe) where he meets a man asking him to walk through a scanner?  The man tells Loki he needs to walk through the scanner to confirm he’s not a robot. Some conversation ensues around the existential question on whether a robot would really know if they were a robot if they weren’t told. He scans through perfectly fine. More process, though! 

 

Step 4 – No ticket, no entry

Now Loki walks through some doors to what looks like the lineup at every airport when you’ve arrived from an international flight. No one is in the line, yet Loki is still prompted to take a ticket. Before Loki takes a ticket, he sees another “variant” arguing with a guard holding a baton. We learn quickly that the batons can zap you to dust and return you to your timeline. Loki obviously compiles as he doesn’t want to be dusted – he takes the ticket. Somewhat hilariously, as Loki waits for the next step in this process to be processed, he watches a video of what the Time Variant Authority is all about, sort of like when you walk through a line at Disney World to get on one of the many attractions. Learn about the ride and the history, except with the TVA “ride”, it won’t be as fun. 

 

Step 5 – Meet the judge

Loki’s ticket number is called, and he’s summoned into a courtroom to meet his judge, jury, and executioner. One single person who will decide his fate.  

 

If that’s not a smooth-running process, moving someone from start to finish so cleanly, then I don’t know what  is. It’s fascinating to see this in  the MCU when you look close enough.  

So, how does this relate to a business? Processes are the lifeblood of your business that ensure it runs smoothly with very little hiccups.    

“But what about my customers? They pay me and keep me in business.” 

“But what about my employees? They service my customers and keep them happy, which keeps me in business.” 

These are both very true, however, without great processes you’ll have customers and employees coming in the front door and leaving right out the back before you can stop it.  

So, processes make sure that doesn’t happen. And as noted above, even the MCU brings light to these ever-important processes to ensure a smooth-running business.  

If you’re at the beginning of your process implementation journey, this will be much simpler to manage. However, if you already have some processes, then there’s no better time than the present to refine them to ensure your business runs smoothly.   

A great tool that I use to think about processes came from a fintech app we use at Blueprint Accounting called Practice Ignition. During a webinar a couple ofyears ago, I was presented with this graphic below:  

THE IPO MODEL

 

 

The simplicity of this is fantastic. Inputs > Process > Outputs. Very straightforward to understand. 

 To understand how to use something like this, work from left to right. Pick a process in your business and consider the following: 

  • What inputs do you need to manage to kick off your process? 
  • What is the overall process that you’re trying to complete? 
  • What results or outputs occur due to your process? 

 

Let’s do a very high-level example involving producing and paying an expense report within your business because an employee purchased an item for the business and paid for it personally. Hence, they need to be reimbursed using your expense report process. 

What are the inputs? Your employee needs to submit the receipt(s) for the purchase(s) they made. A question to consider for this input is “where does an employee send receipts when they need to be reimbursed?” At Blueprint, we use Dext for this very purpose.   

 What are the steps in your process to be completed? This is where you can get a little more detailed about the exact steps. Questions to consider here might be: 

  • What account should this receipt be expensed to?  
  • How should I account for the use tax on the receipt? 
  • Should this be applied against a project?  
  • Is this a billable back to a customer?  
  • How do I want to reimburse my employee? 

 

The answers to all of these questions would go into how you produce your expense report. The final question would link to a separate process where the input for this process the output of the expense report process.   

What are the outputs? Once you’ve pushed a receipt through your expense report process, you should have a final document that is ready for you to reimburse your employee. You should be able to answer all of the above questions from this output.  

 

To visualize: 

Example of how you can apply the ipo model to a business process

The consequences of not having a process for the above example are that your employees may get ticked off at you for not reimbursing them for expenses they incurred on behalf of your business. This may lead to further consequences of unhappy employees that can lead to attrition, for example. 

 By implementing a proper process to follow for something as straightforward as producing an expense report, you’re mitigating risks and ensuring follow through and accountability for each process. This will further create standardization across the many functions of your business and eventually lead to higher efficiency and effectiveness from everyone on your team. 

Back to Loki: what other processes did you recognize in episode 1? Let us know in the comments.  

If you’re looking for bookkeeping, tax, or even process development help, look no further than Blueprint Accounting, Inc., one of Canada’s premier cloud accounting firms. We ask what’s important to you in order to understand exactly what your business needs to grow!  

Contact us today and let’s talk about your business.