Pain Point & Solution: Doing More with Less
I recently connected with a Global Director of Facility Management Operations for a large franchise. When I asked him “What do you feel is your biggest operational bottleneck” he responded with: Doing More with Less. I think it’s safe to say that every business would like to use the same amount of resources – or less – and get more done!
The Pain Point
I can recall one specific example in my corporate career where this was a HUGE dilemma. I was working at corporate accounting office for a hospital affiliation based in northern California. A smaller office in the Bay Area was being consolidated into our location, with very few staff transferring. It was very apparent very quickly that everyone’s workload was about to increase because we were in a hiring freeze.
So, what do you do in this case? The expectation was that all the salaried employees (which was everyone except a few accounting techs) would have to work overtime to meet the new workload requirements. Is anyone ever happy to do that? Certainly not for a long-term period, and I for one knew there had to be a better way to get the work done.
I spent many hours creating new processes for out routine accounting tasks. Mind you, this was the earlier part of my career so there was a lot more trial and error on my part compared to how I create processes now. But I trudged through until I touched as many tasks as I could, often tweaking them a little each month to make it even more efficient than the prior month.
To this day, the process I created that I am most proud of was during this job. It was an Excel-based bank reconciliation template (see also My Secret Weapon for Bank Recons). The old process is one many will be familiar with: pages and pages of paper and various colored highlighters! It was so easy to make errors that would require ticking-and-tying of transactions again. What made these hospital bank reconciliations even more tedious was that you not only matched the bank items to the funding documents, but the funding documents had to be matched against the detail of the patient account records. Most of these bank recons took 4-5 business days (that’s 32-40 hours) per month!
I went to work on an Excel template that took data dump reports from all different platforms (bank, patient accounting, general ledger, etc.) and utilized formulas to automate the matching task. My template was more automated, removed redundancies, decreased errors, improved visibility of discrepancies (making them easier to resolve), improved documentation for management review, and it always balanced to the penny!
The best part? After months of tweaking, the new reconciliation process landed at 1-2 business days. That saved an average of 24 hours per month, per reconciliation. I think I recall there were about 8-10 of these, so let say that saved the accounting department about 192-240 hours per month. That’s more than one full-time equivalent. And that’s just one task out of the many I worked on.
The phrase holds true that where there’s a will, there’s a way! If you’re willing to put in more time upfront, the payoff of time saved in the future could be immense. This can allow a business to increase workload without increasing staff or allow over-worked staff to gain a better work-life balance. If you’re interested to see how I could help your team Do More with Less, contact me for a free consultation!