Five Ways To Reduce Great Time Wasters
It is now very popular to look for ways to save money in the generally true belief that eventually the cost savings will add up to be significant. We strive to print on both sides of the paper, change all lights to LED, and try to recycle everything we can. All of these are very useful, but after most of these changes have been accomplished, there is one money wasting attitude that seems the most difficult to tackle.
We often overlook the greatest opportunity for saving more by taking notice only of those items that can be seen. The biggest unnecessary cost is in wasted time. It is not only the payroll expense that you have to count. You should also factor in the opportunity lost if the time was better spent. It is only then that you will begin to see how huge is the damage done by misused time.
Since higher authority is needed to implement big changes, suitable remedies are only doable if you are the owner, or at least the manager of the enterprise, and these are what we will dwell on. Here are five ideas to assist management on how to minimize time wasters:
• Rectify, transfer or terminate people who are bottlenecks. Some problem personnel are great time wasters. For many reasons, these people are a drag on operations not only because of their poor performance, but they may have a function that must be done before others could proceed with their work. It is in the light of this multiplication of damages that you should assess the laggard employee. The first option is to see if they could be converted to better performance. The second alternative is to transfer them to a position where they are more appropriate. And finally, if nothing else works, then management must have the guts to terminate their employment after going through due process.
• Invest on improving personal productivity. Poorly trained staff members are a time drain. These people are not necessarily problem workers, but simply those whose performance can be improved. Abraham Lincoln once said that if he had six hours to cut a tree, he will spend the first four hours sharpening his axe. Too often we are impressed by people looking busy. We tend to place too little importance on training the person so that he will be more productive.
• Reduce the time allotted for meetings. Meetings consume too much time. While meetings are essential, most meetings take too long to finish; some are not even productive. Often, many of the participants are not needed. It is not only the time and food spent during meetings that are wasted, the interruption and the time going to and from the meeting place also have a significant toll. Study if you can reduce the time allotted to meetings or perhaps eliminate some non-vital ones. Make sure, too, that only relevant personnel will be attending. You can also experiment on using Skype or some other video conferencing technology instead of travelling for a meeting.
• Have an electronic records management. One of the most time-consuming chores is the filing and looking for records since it is frequently done on a daily basis. Luckily, computerizing your records is now extremely inexpensive. Having records in digital format means instantaneous access to needed information. Usually what is needed is only the information or a photocopy of the original, and in these tasks, a computerized system is ideal. It is also possible for more personnel to obtain data without having to bother other staff.
• Reengineer your business process. Some business processes may be unnecessary use of time and finances. Reengineering was a concept popularized in the 1990s by Michael Hammer, a former professor of computer science in MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and James Champy in the best-selling book “Reengineering the Corporation.” A key concept of the book is the elimination of non-value adding processes. While the idea lost favor when it was used to justify massive and inhumane retrenchment, we should apply only the beneficial aspects and avoid replicating the mistakes. The welfare of employees must be taken into account, too. To do reengineering properly demands intensive study of both the technical and human dimension. However, the idea of questioning not only how to do the process efficiently but also if there is a need for the process at all is essential to the improvement of business. You save not only a lot of time but also financial resources if you eliminate what is redundant.
In the never-ending struggle to reduce waste, we should not only deal with the tangible materials that we consume, we also need to focus on the not-so-obvious expense of misspent time. Time is gold, we often say. It certainly deserves more attention than most managers are currently giving it.
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.