Redundancies are non-value-added activities that detract from and inhibit additional focus on the core mission of your business. It is a common problem encountered by many growing companies in a variety of industries, and often goes un-noticed while it is eating away at the effectiveness of an organizations efficiency level of productivity.
There are some company leaders that have the intuitive insight to recognize that almost all companies have redundancy issues, but lack the expertise to find and/or correct them. Others may have the enterprise-wide vision to see them, but not have the expertise in the areas required to eliminate them.
These areas of expertise can include time management, resource utilization, work-cycle process, and technology, among others.
Any fast growing company with leadership that has the vision to see the entire enterprise will want to identify and eliminate redundancies quickly, as failure to do so may hamper their success.
Below are some useful tips to help you reduce redundancy with efficient operating strategies and technology implementations.
Redundancies waste one of the most precious assets in a business: people’s time and focus. This is because redundancies lock your staff into a mode of “doing, doing, doing” in a merry-go-round circle of receptiveness, instead of optimized actions that produce specific results in the most efficient way.
An example of in-efficiency could be the simple use of using email as the source to move information between team members in a multi-staged project development process. Filing too in many organizations is outdated, archaic and cumbersome. And this can become a great inhibitor to personal and business growth.
Solutions: A simple way to begin the process of identifying redundancies is just writing down your current process. Whether using a piece of paper, or a digital spreadsheet, put the process into a visualization work-flow to illustrate the path of actions, results and specified goals.
Once redundancies are identified the task then becomes determining the best ways to eliminate them. In one of my earlier companies — that provided logistics coordination and management for the movement of commercial goods being shipped throughout North America via trucks, rail and air on behalf of clients, — our challenge was that to unlock growth I had to develop an internal work-flow system that could track the progress of both work and information-flow in real time, and have the process in place to quickly respond with contingency plans when required.
Where can you consolidate multiple actions into a single action; where can you record multiple actions in one place versus many? This is simple exercise that can lead to recognizing where your organization is being redundant.
Since the late 1990’s, technology has played a larger and larger role in the operations of even small businesses, where prior to the Internet and cloud applications computer application was reserved for large corporations that could afford large in-house computer systems.
For example, by using Cloud-based accounting and billing systems, the process of producing recurring invoices (and emailing them to clients) as well as posting recurring vendor bills can be automated – entirely generated by the system without any human action.
There are various types of redundancies faced by offices today. For instance, with regards to information, you could find that inputting the same information in multiple places in an organization could lead to redundancy whereby:
• The same information is re-entered multiple times and in multiple places.
• The same operation is repeated for the same or different purpose.
• The same operation is performed by multiple individuals or departments.
• The same or similar needs are being addressed by two separate processes or steps, when one could be sufficient.
Eliminating redundancies will involve preventing your staff from pushing information into multiple places in your IT system. Instead, what you need to have is an operating strategy in place that allows critical information to be input into one place, and then either pushed to the next appropriate person in the work-cycle pipeline, or pulled by the appropriate person as the need arises from multiple outputs.
Again, technology can play a part. Where enterprise systems – that usually contain a content relations management (CRM), sales leads component, company department and employee hierarchy structure and HR department tools, project management tools, and billing – were previously very expensive technology investments, the Cloud has now made mini-enterprise systems available online for monthly costs ranging from $100 to $600 per month, depending on the extent of services the system provides.
It is easier and less costly to prevent redundancies than to eliminate them as your business grows. Opt for a well thought out long term staged solution, a strategy that supports where you are and also has the growth potential to support where your company is going.
It may be tempting to include a redundant step in your business process to facilitate “getting it done now”. However, the consequences would not be worthwhile because getting your staff to eliminate such a process later on can prove very challenging.
The actual process of eliminating redundancies will involve change. Resistance to change is normal in such cases and you should be prepared to deal with unwilling staff in your mission to eliminate redundancy.
You will need to put effort into demonstrating to your staff that such change is good for them. If the process made their job easier before, they will only embrace the change after it has effectively become their new normal way of doing things.