The Big Squeeze

Making sure your systems and processes work for you

Eliminate any work where cost exceeds value. Start by identifying opportunities to reduce workload. For instance, processes often become fixed, despite diminishing efficiency or value. Consider how you could redesign them to meet your present need, including those you could do electronically, rather than manually.

Review timing and deadlines. Generally, people fall into a routine, irrespective of whether it’s efficient and rarely questioning if it’s actually necessary. Better communication between people or departments is the simplest way to decide if the effort is justified.

Review your requirements for reports and data. These should include the reason (who gets them, who reads them and who takes any necessary action resulting from them), frequency (can weekly become monthly or monthly become quarterly), content (comprehensive or exceptional reporting only), and format (automatic graphic output or written narrative). In some cases, you may be able to eliminate the review entirely.

  Try to avoid duplication or overlap, which causes unnecessary work and burns time. The most effective and efficient companies elect a named action head or department to conduct a single, coordinated effort and incorporate input from other stakeholders.

A good management information system will help you to control costs in areas such as labour, plant and materials, but you can do much to reduce the chance of projects and margins being affected by unnecessary costs and delays through correct resourcing, time management and capture of variations.

Categorising inventory according to its value to the business will enable you to manage critical stock levels and minimise costs. You may be able to make further savings by buying direct and cutting out the middle man and associated logistics costs, and improving waste management.

Portfolio Director