How To Stop Wasting Time And Resources
- Streamline and simplify. By regularly reviewing what you do and how you do it you make it less likely that you are relying on outdated and/or redundant processes. Efficiency is still important. The fact that computers make it easier for us to do the same job five times, doesn't make it right.
- Duplication is bad. Whilst reviewing your processes look out for instances where things are being done more than once. Accounts, emails and meetings are usually at the heart of most duplication. Distribution lists are my pet hate. It seems that rather than being selective and actually deciding who needs to see a particular piece of information, most managers simply include everyone on their lists to receive everything they send. In a large organisation this can mean hundreds of hours spent by people opening reading completely irrelevant information. Ironically one way to avoid duplication is to communicate regularly. It's easy for different departments to become insular and uncommunicative. I have a distant memory of an almost identical customer survey carried out by a companies marketing department and the distribution centre. Both happening within weeks of each other costing a small fortune. I accept that this mostly applies to large companies but it can be very costly for smaller companies struggling to control costs.
- Do regular price comparisons. It is amazing how many businesses stick with their existing suppliers out of habit. I accept that loyalty and trust are important when it comes to the smooth running of a business but managing overheads is something that needs constant attention.
- Limit the amount of data you consume. We are today surrounded by information. From 24-hour news to the statistics produced by most modern accounts packages, we are literally bombarded with facts, figures and opinion. The problem then is twofold, how do we cope with the volume and how do we verify the information itself. Firstly choose and focus on the criteria most important to your business, secondly find trustworthy sources of information and stick with them. For me this means weekly verified reports on sales, gross profits and cash flow. I delegate everything else to others. The only time I concern myself with late payments, staffing issues, transportation, training, stationary, postage, how much coffee is being consumed etc etc is when there is a problem.
- Consider outsourcing. One of the first basic principles of business I encountered was the idea that if I earn £100 an hour and I can pay someone £10 an hour to cut my grass why would I cut my own grass. As simple as this is, it always comes to mind when I asked to do something outside of my core business. 469 Workshops are a current example of this. Today I rarely author a complete course. It easier, quicker and more cost effective to purchase quality off-the-shelf training products and enhance them to meet my needs. This way decisions on layout, structure and basic content are minimised. I just concentrate on getting my message across. In addition to this PowerPoint presentations are pre-built and I can offer Institute of Commercial Management diplomas without the hassle of having my own work authorised by the ICM. Everyone wins.