“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.” –Henry Ford
Bad business processes embed themselves into workflow over time: they even become part of the training program:
“Bill, you take the customer information you entered on this form, then you add it to this spreadsheet to get a customer number, and then you open the customer account by transferring the customer details to this form and sending it to accounting and . . .what’s that? Yes, we have just entered the same information in three places. I know, crazy, isn’t it?”
I hope you haven’t endured training like this. But, based on what I see when we first engage with a company, most have their share of time wasters and morale busters:
1. Sales pipeline and forecasts maintained in Excel; each account manager creates a spreadsheet every week for his boss, who compiles it into a master report for his boss.
Average time wasted, about three hours a person, per week.
2. Two people quoting the same job (with different prices, no less), because there are no assigned reps or centralized system.
Average time wasted, about two hours per quote, per person.
3. Digging through files and archived records because all correspondence and historical data live in a file cabinet, not a database.
Time wasted in the department, about five hours per week; staying late to get done all the important stuff that should have been done instead.
There are any number of ways to increase productivity – from contact management tools, customer relationship management systems, and ERP to automated workflow processes and on-line collaboration tools. And let’s not forget the most important ones: common sense and communication.
Rise up! If it doesn’t make sense, say so. Recently we showed a client how to streamline their quoting process by a fairly small modification to their workflow. Why hadn’t it been changed before? “Well, it never made sense to me either, but I thought it’s how they wanted it.” Once they refined two steps that created friction, everyone in the chain experienced the process improvement.
I fear that we lose IQ points every time we simply accept, “It’s always been done that way”. Changing a dumb process is liberating for everyone who labors under its tyranny.
Take a look around – what are your time, money, and energy wasters, and how could you solve them?
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