If I had a business, I would choose to have some of my “overhead” processes optimised such that they cost me the least amount of hassle, downtime and thus money. I would do this because processes that are an overhead to a business can really eat into folks motivation, especially if the amount of red-tape they have to handle gets too much. One such process that I would optimise is the “admin” process. Nobody likes excessive admin, yet in business we find it an increasingly popular activity. The trouble is, too much admin can lead to de-motivation which can then lead to stagnation, something that was covered in today’s Guardian.
De-motivation and stagnation are the two things that you don’t want your key personnel falling foul of. These folks are the first to be heard lamenting about the excessive overhead of admin, using phrases like “we’ve lost sight of where we’re going” and worse like the potentially blasphemous “our head is going up our own backside”. If you hear these phrases, it may well be too late. But if you’re early enough, all is not lost, something can be done! How do you identify “what” can be done? Well, the answer is remarkably simple: just ask your key personnel to list what’s bothering them from an admin perspective. You’ll them have a ready-made list of ways in which you can save money and motivate your team. It’s one of those “win-win” situations.
Key personnel don’t want to spend time “out of process”, where “process” means their job function, i.e. what you pay them to do, their professional service to you. They want to focus on their job, focus on the project and focus on what they can do to make everything easier all round. However, if your business plants landmines of administration in the paths of key personnel, any projects that they are working on will take a serious schedule hit. Key personnel will attempt to side-step the landmines, but eventually they’ll stand on one, and boom, de-motivation and stagnation are the injuries…injuries that are very difficult for the business to recover from (ultimately, the injured personnel find another job).
It’s very important to recognise that admin need not be overwhelming, just enough is enough. Admin activities are overhead, they do not contribute to the bottom line, every admin hour costs you at least two hours of at an hourly rate on a project. Focus on activities that increase your turnover, and anything that can increase your profit: seek out activities that eat into your turnover and profit, optimise or eradicate them.
The old adage of time is money stands true. Don’t thwart the progress of key personnel by making them meander through an administrative minefield.