Do you know what your inefficiencies are costing you?

What are your inefficiencies costing you?

If you were a professional photographer you wouldn't dream of going on an important assignment without first checking all your equipment and making sure everything is at hand. You want to know exactly where every lens and cable and spare battery is.

Does that sound like the way your business is currently run?

Inefficiencies are similar to waste. They are failures to make effective use of your precious resources. Until you sort them out, they are a constant drain on your business, robbing it of its vitality, profitability, growth and potential.

There are seven very common reasons for inefficiencies. As it happens, Synergist helps remedy each of them.


Not producing enough billable hours

The problem of low billable hours cuts right to the heart of things. It doesn't usually happen because there isn't enough work to do. Everyone might be constantly busy, but they might not be working on the right things.

Until you get that sorted you can never get the business back on track.

It typically happens either because there are too many chiefs, or because people aren’t working on the right projects due to a lack of awareness. Priorities have to constantly shift because circumstances, resources, events and client requests are constantly on the move. In businesses managing multiple projects, having to schedule multiple resources having to deal with demanding clients every day of the week, the typical result is the overservicing of some clients and the underservicing of others. But is this truly inevitable?

Phil Robinson, Founder & CEO of ClickThrough, told us: 

Synergist showed us we had been heavily over-servicing. We had to reassure our team that we needed to know these things. It’s not a reflection on them. We just need the facts to make informed decisions. The information empowers the team, and Synergist is here to help them. There are no silos now.”


Inefficient methods and processes

Most businesses are quite unaware of how their processes look to an observer. Every day we see examples of arbitrary and unhelpful ways of doing things. Businesses take them for granted, often involving wastefulness, repetition, bottlenecks and unnecessary complications.

The answer is to bring in a system that pulls everything together into one intelligent whole. Even the process of implementing such a system helps. It reveals old inefficiencies that you will be glad to get rid of.

Steven Clark Finance Director of branding and design agency Tayburn, said:

“Synergist pulls everything together. We track income, work in progress, cost overruns, margins, time utilisation, profitability analysis – everything comes from Synergist.”


Poor information

If you give the team poor information, they can’t be expected to work smart. They might be making decisions based on incomplete, outdated or faulty information, for example. It’s costly and frustrating because all the inputs have been made somewhere along the way (sometimes multiple times) but the lack of coherence means that a unified set of up-to-date information is unavailable to the team.

Says Steven Clarke:

“In the old days we used a clunky, horrible job management system. I used to have to sit down with the account managers every month and ask questions like ‘Why is this job over?’ and ‘Why have we not billed this one?’ and it took an enormous amount of time to sort out each month. We only found out what was really happening after the event, when of course it was too late“.


Using the wrong software

Businesses tend to come to us when they realise that their current approach – typically using spreadsheets or several basic software apps – are letting them down badly

Gary Winder, Managing Director of environmental consultancy REC, told us:

“We used to run our consultancy based on spreadsheets, which resulted in a number of problems. We never quite had clarity or visibility of our WIP or when it was going to be delivered.”

Steve Revell, Managing Director of consulting engineers Maleon, said:

“Before Synergist, we used a lot of spreadsheets. But we were constantly moving data about, often 3 or 4 times. It wasted time and introduced errors.

“In those days there was no way to track a job properly all the way through. How much time has been invested in it? How much time is left? What modifications have been made along the way? What are the margins? We needed a serious system.”

Phil Robinson:

"Before we went with Synergist, our time wasn’t integrated with revenues. We couldn’t track capacity or client profitability. We used lots of spreadsheets. Information was never up to date.”

Rebecca Frain, Managing Director of electrical consultancy Electrical Safety UK, told us:

“We’ve dumped so many spreadsheets!”


Wasted time

Very few people enjoy wasting their time. Precious energies spent searching for things (such as having to wade through weeks of emails to find the current quote or invoice) or having to attend meetings to convey information that a smart system would already know feel demotivated because it only puts more stress on them. This time saved is so much better spent focusing on client work.

Andy Yates, Director of Webb Yates Engineers, said:

"Some things are phenomenally quicker now. Example: when we create quotes for one client, we need to give them target costs which previously entailed fairly elaborate spreadsheet work. The spreadsheets were problematical because everyone created theirs in different ways. Now it’s handled by the system.”

And Ian Fiddler, Head of Business Operations at Enjoy Digital, added:

"At any point throughout the month we can see straight away at what stage a job or opportunity is, so the dashboard speeds up the process and enables us to react more quickly.”


Business culture problems

It’s hard to maintain a positive culture when everybody’s unnecessarily stressed. People who are frustrated by lack of clarity, wasted time, and having to use clunky tools each day are hardly likely to rise above it every day.

For some ideas on how to tackle this, see "Is Your Team Commercially Aware."


Inefficient practices

Do you find it difficult to set targets for the team? If so, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most difficult and sensitive areas in all of business, affecting morale, staff turnover, productivity and business culture.

But having the right information in front of you makes target setting a far easier task, plus your decisions are seen as more transparent and objective rather than arbitrary or manipulative.

Phil Robinson:

“It’s helped with fine-tuning targets. It’s removed all the debates and emotions – it’s all factual now. We discuss the benchmarks with each department. We can see when a department has earned extra hours of specialist time. They can allocate it how they need. That’s very empowering.”

Rebecca Frain:

“We’re much better at setting targets now because it’s backed up by data. Before, it was all a bit top-down, and not always realistic enough.”

And Steve Revell has the last word:

“The best thing? It’s live data that drives the decisions that we make every day. Everything is at your fingertips. A client phones you and – two clicks – you have it all in front of you.”