Welcome back to our three-part series about efficiency in the workplace. So far we challenged managers to delegate meaningful work to their subordinates. Today we are going to look at how choosing the right tool and creating a new process can lead to greater efficiency.
Integrated tools and processes
We recently met with a manufacturing company whose warehouse team utilizes post-it notes and paper to transfer inventory lists to the accounting team. The accounting team prints out paper order forms and then an assistant updates a spreadsheet-based off the order forms to keep the overall inventory. This system is wildly inefficient. As an outsider, we were able to immediately see how an inventory software and few pieces of technology would allow us to free up four people to be used toward more productive outcomes.
Sometimes the opposite is true. Companies are so fast to band-aid each problem with a technology solution that they have redundancies and are paying for more than they need. We’ve worked at companies where each person had a Verizon conference call-in number. We also had Skype, which assigns an automatic call-in number. We didn’t need both systems in place. We just needed to assess which is a better use of our resources and choose the best system for our needs.
Core Problem: Processes are put in place and instead of seeking out new technology solutions, people are complacent and do things the way they’ve always been done. Sometimes we don’t have the resources for an upgraded system, but often, as time wears on, the inefficiency wastes weeks, months and years in terms of productivity lost. If a decision is made to implement a new tool, be sure to spend the time to see how the solution will solve not only your core problem but what other issues can it resolve. If you can find ONE product that can solve and integrate solutions for four secondary problems, it will be well worth the investment.
Activity: Approach one process within your business as an outsider. Create a voice memo or instruction guide for someone else outlining the steps it takes to complete that process. Spend a few minutes researching tools that exist that solve this problem. Is there another way? Take the 10,000-foot view of an outsider and find a better solution.
This is the second post in a three-part series on efficiency. Check out our first post about managers that know when to delegate and watch for our next post about being an organization with latitude for innovation and change.