"Large enough to serve you via a breadth of experience yet small enough to always care."

The obvious is often overlooked.

All companies should constantly seek ways to become more efficient and cut operating costs, hopefully without interfering with the backbone of all businesses–the customer. Still, when reviewing operations, policies, and procedures for methods of reducing costs and/or increasing efficiency, it is sometimes the simplest and most blatantly obvious things that are overlooked.

For instance, earlier this year I witnessed a company’s employee manually printing envelopes so they could mail invoices to customers. Every invoice already included the necessary destination and source addresses, yet the employee was wasting 30-60 seconds preparing an envelope’s address fields in Word, and then printing the envelopes one at a time. If the employee mailed 100 invoices throughout the day, it resulted in 30-60 minutes of wasted time that could have been put to use on revenue generating or value-adding activities.

Shocked at what I had observed, I asked a simple question: “Why are you not using window envelopes?” Voila, my simple question resulted in 30-60 minutes saved each day by just a single employee because they converted to utilizing window envelopes!

Around the same time, I noticed this company also only had a central printer for all of its employees to send print jobs to. So, each time an employee needed to print an envelope or single document, they would have to get up from their desk and walk 15-40 feet to the centrally located printer. Each time, 10-30 seconds would be wasted, even more if they were distracted by a coworker, and this occurred countless times each day. Again, I asked a simple question: “Why do the employees that print the most not have local printers (that is, a printer at their individual workstation)?” A $200 investment in a local laser printer paid for itself in less than a month due to time savings and efficiency.

These may seem to be elementary cost cutting examples, yet the reality is many companies are so busy trying to focus on their core business functions that they end up overlooking very simple things that create tremendous inefficiencies and increased costs. Do not be afraid to scrutinize the simple things…in fact, let them be your starting point!