Administrative efficiency .. cutting the fat

Do any of you have experience in analysis and implementation of administrative waste andways to identify it and reduce it as an outsider looking in?

You mean like these guys?

Exactly. Say you are the employee at the other end of the table. How can you build data / access information to “cut their fat”?

Ultimately it is the consumer who loses… the costs of the inefficiency of administration gets passed on to the consumer.

Do you have access to budgets–and more importantly, relatively “raw” data (that hasn’t been massaged)?

A nonprofit I’m familiar with turned a $1.5m budget with almost 65% “operating” costs (salary, benefits, staff travel, materials and supplies, and other items not directly related to the actual hands-on portion of our work) into a 45/55 split with Magic Math and even then, a good chunk of the 45% operating was explained away as the cost of doing business through a large research institution.

Anyway, it’s hard to get people to take you seriously without very good “quantifiable data,” and cost is a phenomenal place to start. It’s not the be-all, end-all, but you’re just as able to massage numbers to suit a purpose as the business itself would be.


Aside from that, if you’re being empowered to look around in this area (e.g., some sort of internal audit or whatever), there are some systems for measuring the impact of leadership/management. Not familiar with names, but I’ve seen a couple of larger businesses implement various kinds of polling/data collection/ranking for their middle management staff, for instance, in much the same way that those managers observed the effectiveness of their employees. Your goal here is to measure “impact” of good management vs. bad (and, of course, the impact of various administrative policies and procedures). If you work in a common field or have comparable work being done at, say, public universities or government institutions, it’s likely you can even compare and contrast your figures with reports on theirs. E.G., our travel policies consume 50% more time per employee trip than those from Public University X, or administrative assistants make up 10% of our salary budget, as compared to the industry average of Y.

Ultimately you need to change processes. I suggest looking into Lean management processes to eliminate waste and Sixsigma to minimize defects. Not exciting stuff, but it can save a ton of money.

Specifically within Lean, you can do a value stream analysis and identify all the steps in the process that do not add value to the product or service.

Perhaps you could post a few more facts:

  • What industry? And what functions within the company?
  • Is the goal to save cost, improve service levels, reduce cycle times, or… ?
  • What is the timeline?
  • Do you have a serious and interested executive sponsor?

Hopefully, it’s more interesting than ‘we need to shed some salaries.’

For headcount? If the management doesn’t already know who the “fat” are, then they’re it.

As mentioned above, Lean and Six Sigma are those that I’m most familiar with, but really any remotely accurate assessment will require “inside” information. If you’re a stock holder who doesn’t like the trend of a company, there’s precious little you can do to figure out what can use trimming. If you’re an employee with access to databases, on the other hand, it should be much easier.

Between this and his other thread, I’m thinking it’s either “Help me with my homework.” or “Someone at work made a grave error assigning me a task.”

I’d guess something unpleasant occuring at his POE and he’s looking for the right way to present it to the powers that be. That said, advice in that other thread still holds true:

You don’t need much in the way of statistical models and jargon if you can get your point across simply and credibly.