In our previous blog, ‘How to reduce your company’s IT costs’ we focused on saving expenditure on IT. However, a potentially more valuable question is to flip that question on its head and ask – How can I use IT to reduce my business costs?
By the way, cost does not simply manifest itself in obvious pounds and pence – that would be nice. You have to look deeper – identify tools that can boost your existing resource, your staff, productivity – thus saving cost by reducing head-count and/or drive more value, more productivity from each staff member by allowing them to focus on what is important and not the ‘doing of tasks’.
IT is a vastly powerful resource for business, we don’t need to go into detail as it’s abundantly clear for all businesses in today’s world, that IT will play a critical role in the organisation, from being able to deliver your products and services, to managing your business. However, many businesses are missing out on the opportunities that IT presents with respect to time-saving and/or increasing the productivity of their teams.
Let’s take a simple example. Think about your company’s ‘staff time-off’ booking procedure for a minute. Do your staff send in requests for various dates, as and when they require, via email or in passing comment during your busy day, does someone need to manually check the calendar to see if there’s conflicting holidays and then someone else has to decide if they can have the time-off?
But, I hear you say, I already use IT to support this function – we use Outlook and Exchange, we use spreadsheets to record the information and store in a secure file on our network.
Yes, you are using IT but, could you be using IT in a smarter way? The answer is of course, YES! Just about every single task or process can be improved and in our example above, there are a load of simple solutions on the market you can use to help with this, such as Timetastic, or Appogee to name just two.
How valuable would it be for someone to come into your organisation and identify a bunch of business activities, deliver them in a different way, and walk out of your organisation saving your business 50 days effort per annum? What could you do with an extra 50 days of staff resource time? A lot, right? Well, it is not as hard as it sounds, but you must be willing to embrace change and try new solutions as well as make an initial investment in resource time to identify these savings.
If you (or an external consultant) can recognise the issues faced by your staff in day to day activities, then you don’t need to re-invent the wheel. There are invariably loads of businesses who have come up with the same issues over the years and an application or tool will have been developed to help deal with those issues. If you suddenly find that is not the case, and your issues is not unique, then that might be a Eureka moment! Bottle it immediately and get in touch with an app developer to help you to exploit the opportunity!
Specialist tools or software, are designed to take the hassle out of managing systems and processes. E.g. in the case of staff time-off, if you can make this self-serve as much as possible, whereby your staff can see all the available dates in a single view, request time-off with minimal clicks, their manager gets a quick one-click approval and if approved the details automatically populate into the staff calendar. It may sound trivial but think about it. If you have 50 staff, and the process that the above software can do is being done the team, how many hours would this save? I would estimate that 50 staff, generate around 4-8 requests for leave per annum. Let’s say each request can take 10 minutes per request, then you have between 200 and 400 requests per annum which boils down to 33-66 hours or somewhere in the region of 5-10 days per annum! If by implementing software you brought the per request time down to 2 minutes, think how many more days are available for more productive and valuable work?
There’s plenty of different IT solutions which can have the same time-saving (and therefore cost-saving) effect, from your accounting package to office productivity applications, document sharing and social media management. Due to your busy schedule, you may not be able to find the time to identify which software or applications could help your business and that’s where a business IT use audit from a reputable company can pay dividends. Your consulting firm should be able to identify not only cost-cutting opportunities but also time-saving opportunities that IT can enable.
For a friendly discussion about what areas IT could improve your company’s productivity give us a call on 020 8099 1502.