This is the third in a series expandng on my friend Ross Sturleys’ Ten Things to Cut in a Recession Before You Cut Your Marketing (presented at last month’s CIMCIG conference and in recent Construction News marketing e-newsletters).
Number three: “Cut administration”
Ross argues that there are opportunities, if money is really tight, for administration tasks to be outsourced, as – in many cases – familiarity with the company is unnecessary if you simply need to arrange biscuits for the board meeting, this week’s stationery order, getting the council to collect the rubbish, etc. He adds facilities management (www.faceo.com) and payroll management to the list of jobs that can be done more efficiently by outside agencies – some even based overseas; I would add other occasional overhead items such as travel arrangements and recruitment.
Ross makes a distinction here between administration and ICT (the subject of one of his later articles), but there is no reason why various areas of ICT provision and internal communications couldn’t also be outsourced or, at least, managed better.
- Get SaaS-y. As I wrote recently (27 February), using software applications provided on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) basis certainly removes the need to maintain expensive internal hardware and deliver support services for those applications. As well as standard email, word-processing, spreadsheets and presentations, and construction collaboration technologies, there are SaaS alternatives for numerous other back-office requirements like customer relationship management, human relations, accounting and finance, call centres, professional services management, expense management, etc, etc (Jeff Kaplan’s SaaS Showplace has a long list of disciplines for which SaaS alternatives exist – read Jeff’s How SMBs Can Save Money Using SaaS too).
- Improve that intranet. In my experience a lot of time within companies is wasted because people simply don’t know where to find information. This is where having an efficient internal knowledge and information management source can work wonders. Link your intranet with some of your SaaS solutions and automate some processes and you can really help people become more self-sufficient and efficient in their daily work.
- Wiki, wiki. The term “wiki” comes from the Hawaiian word for “fast” and is now quite widely understood (not least because of Wikipedia) as a web-based information source that anyone can edit. Some construction firms have used wikis as part of their internal intranets to capture knowledge about projects, processes, materials, suppliers, etc; devolving responsibility for updating the wiki to employees has proved an effective way of ensuring that information is more complete and accurate; I also know of instances where trusted supply chain members can update customers’ wikis or intranets ensuring their company/product/service profiles are always up-to-date.
- Get Social. Some information tasks can be managed by using social media. Photolibraries could be established in Flickr or Picasa; videos could be hosted on YouTube or Vimeo, and public presentations could be stored in SlideShare (impress your online audience and you may even attract new customers!).
- Manage your filters. One of my favourite recent comments was by Clay Shirky who said “It’s not information overload. It’s filter failure“. Information can be filtered by automatic features such as spam filters on your email inbox, by RSS feeds and Google Alerts (saving you the bother of checking websites or blogs for updates). You can also filter information via the ‘wisdom of crowds’ – using Twitter, Digg and/or Delicious as a crowd-source feed of news updates and useful blog links, for instance.
What other administration strategies could help you manage your organisation better? Let me know.
Coming soon: Number four: “Cut executive costs”