The economy has forced many business owners and managers to look closely at their costs over the last eighteen months. The easy options in terms of reducing costs are the obvious ones; staff and infrastructure.
However, it has been interesting to see that a number of organizations have taken the opportunity to go further.
Every cloud has a silver lining as they say and some of these organizations have taken a creative approach to this opportunity for change. In addition to the emphasis on reducing costs there is growing realization that this opportunity for change allows for the introduction of greener business practices.
This is not entirely altruistic in that we can all recognize there is a real debate about the role of green taxes in the economy.
As one manager explained to me, everyone understands that the economy means that we are simply selling less stuff. Staff understand that our choices as a business are often simple and often very stark.
This means that the workforce have been much more open to the idea of change. This has helped create the right cultural conditions for introducing new ideas and this has played an important role in the logic and decision making. `
I have seen a number of clients looking to take a more strategic view, looking to make the most this opportunity for change. In Unsurprisingly there are some common themes :-
- Business Process Improvement
- Paperless Office
Business Process Improvement – A Euphemism for Staff Cuts?
The focus here is how to operate key administrative or back-office processes more effectively; more work and less staff equate to lower transaction costs. The easy targets are the paper based systems. Every business has them, particularly a small business. These processes often tend to be manual and lack scalability. Therefore digitizing these processes so they are managed electronically can deliver significant benefits to most businesses. In many cases this means more effective use of resources and improved scalability rather than just redundancies.
The Paperless Office – Fact or Fiction?
Personally I don’t like the phrase paperless office. I think it is over used and has some negative baggage. However, I think the sentiment is correct. Eliminating manual processes such HR; expenses claims; accounts payable claims handling not only saves on paper waste and definitely greener but it plays an important part in business process improvement.
Technology plays a critical role and the software as a service market place driven by organizations such as Google has made the technology solutions to support these kind of services far more accessible particularly for the small and medium enterprise who do not have ready access IT skills and resources.
Larger organizations have been able to invest much earlier but as a small business manager your are much more focused on that day-to-day practicalities of running a business.
This new generation of software tools tend to have a much lower cost of deployment; with menu driven configuration for key features such as work flow and access controls. There is no new server or software licenses or recruitment of technical staff and therefore total cost of ownership remains low.
Homeworking – lets abolish rush hour!
Enables organizations to reduce their office space, it is much kinder on the environment. Many of us spend at least an hour a day commuting. There is a personal cost as well as a cost to the environment.
In the past home working has been the preserve of managers, perhaps call center staff, sales people, engineers and other field based staff.
However, by taking the opportunity to optimize your back-office and administrative functions you can put in place the technology infrastructure to work and collaborate remotely removing the paper removes the dependency for staff to be located in the same office.
Clearly the technology makes a contribution to your carbon footprint but by using browser enabled applications you are largely making use of existing infrastructure and any incremental carbon costs can easily be offset through the positive impact of a truly paperless office.
I have not sat down and crunched the numbers but I bet even reducing your commuting hours by 20% you will see a marked increase in productivity and a significant reduction in carbon emissions.
Has anyone completed such a study?
Dajon provide complete document and data management solutions helping to reduce costs and improve staff productivity.