...Innovative IT Consulting helps small and mid-size companies use technology to facilitate growth and increase profitability. We are specialists in the Process Industries.
June, 2006

In the May Issue of Innovative Thinking, we wrote about "Accessing Your Data". In this June issue, we address Reducing Redundancy, a problem encountered by many of our clients, who are growing companies in the Process Industries.

Eliminating Redundancies - The Key to Successful Business Growth By Paul Sita, Ph.D, President, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. Paul can be reached at 631-549-1685 or psita@innovativeitc.com.

It's 10 a.m. Do you know where your redundancies are? Just as the familiar public service announcement, “Its 10 p.m., do you know where your children are” brought to light the difference between a parent’s perception of where their children were and the reality, so it goes with information in your business. As Management, you think you know how things are being done but the reality may be different. As a company that was founded on the principal of “Get it done now”, your staff may very well be inputting the same information in multiple places so they can continue that founding principal. The problem is, you can only grow so far that way before you run into problems that impede your growth and success. Problems such as:

• The same information re-entered multiple times and places.
• The same operation repeated for the same or different purposes.
• The same operation performed by multiple departments or individuals.
• The same or similar needs being addressed by two separate steps or processes when one could suffice.

If you are a fast growing process industry company, you will want to find and eliminate these redundancies fast. Failing to do so may be hazardous to your success. Read More.

Instead of your people “pushing” information into multiple places in your IT system, you want them to input the data once and then “pull” it from one location to provide you with multiple outputs. This reduces errors that slow down your growth and cost you money, time and customers. Not to mention the wasted time reconciling information. If the wrong data is input, you will know quickly because your people, in their multiple functions, will not be able to reconcile information. Redundancies waste one of your most precious assets – your people – and lock them into a mode of “doing, doing, doing” that becomes an inhibitor to growth. Redundancies represent non value-added activity that detract from and prevent additional focus on the company’s core mission.

Practice Redundancy Prevention
As you grow, keep it mind that it's easier and less expensive to prevent redundancies than to eliminate them. It’s the difference between a short term fix and a long term solution. If you are going to grow and thrive, you need to be focused on the long term. While it is tempting to add a redundant step to a business process so you can “Get it done now”, getting people to eliminate that step later on can be very difficult. The adage “we don’t have time to do it right but we have time to do it twice” is especially true here.

How do you find redundancies?
Finding and eliminating redundancies takes an organized, proactive effort. Here are three methods that will help you out of this problem.

• Business Process Study. Depending upon the size of your organization a study or process mapping may be the correct starting point. Very often having an outsider ask questions about how things are done is less threatening than having a key internal person ask the same questions. Many consultants bring excellent tools, formats and benchmarks to help you get started. Don’t underestimate the value of this type of “jump –start”. Plus your commitment to hiring an outsider to perform this task signals its importance to the organization.

• Cross-functional team of operational personnel. Assembling a team of key operational personnel who are really “hands-on” is one of the key steps to eliminating redundancies. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. We’re talking about change here. Involving those who know the most in many cases also means those that are most invested in how things got that way, and if those individuals are not receptive to change, then this group could be doomed. (See this month’s tip below by John Pellegrino for some suggestions on this topic.)

• Management group. While assembling some group of management to focus on redundancies is one necessary step, it is less critical than involving key operational personnel.

How do you eliminate redundancy?
Ultimately, eliminating redundancies involves change. And all change involves resistance to change. You must make every effort to show people what’s in it for them. And just because something may make their job easier once they change, don’t expect them to embrace it. They will embrace the change typically only after it’s become their new “normal” way of doing things.

That being said, you can eliminate redundancies by:

  • Designing an enhanced business process that does away with the redundancy.
  • Modifying systems so that everyone works from the same information.
  • Looking for ways to consolidate and/or eliminate the redundant functions, focusing on the business need for the function.

    Using Redundancy as the Agent of Change
    Many times obvious redundancies serve as the driver for a replacement of a legacy system. This is a good thing. However, the difficulty of implementing systems in small and growing companies make changing business processes very difficult during implementation. Here again the temptation is to put off making those changes until after implementation. There is nothing wrong with this approach. However, if your organization lacks the discipline to tackle those changes after implementation, you can easily end up with a newer, faster version of a system supporting the same redundant operational steps.

    Focus on business process.
    Ultimately, it is an ongoing focus on business process that differentiates mid-sized companies from small ones. Whatever the driver for eliminating the redundancies in your company, if you use this initiative to build a sustainable focus on business processes, you will be well on your way to a leaner, more profitable enterprise.

    Tip of the Month

    Let your Superusers Supercharge your ERP project. Implementing an Effective Cross Functional Team.
    By John Pellegrino, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. John can be reached at 631-549-1685 or jpellegrino@innovativeitc.com.

    In any successful enterprise software project, the sponsors (top management) set the strategy and priorities. But it’s good practice to put a group of “Superusers” together. The Superusers can make things happen and bring the strategy to fruition. This group needs to work as a team, meet regularly and be given the time and authority to work through issues, especially in the varied business processes.

    Here are some suggestions on putting together a successful team of Superusers:

      1. Form the team before initial implementation, utilize it during initial implementation, and keep it together after initial implementation.
      2. Select middle managers or the most experienced persons within the various departments of an organization.
      3. Allow the team to work as peers with little, if any, participation from the sponsors.
      4. Designate someone on the team to be responsible for providing progress reports to the sponsors on a regular basis.
      5. Let the team work with a sponsor they respect to get final approval for solutions and for guidance as to priority.
      6. Recognize or reward the team for accomplishments to give incentive for making changes.
    Superusers have the power to make things better, especially in eliminating redundancies and inefficiencies in your business (see our main article for more on this subject).

    Let's Meet!

    We will be attending the IDDBA Trade Show at the Convension Center in Orlando from June 11 - June 13th and we'd love to meet you there. Please give us a call at 516-297-5264 or email if you can join us. The IDDBA show is one of the premier events for the food industry.

    A Look Ahead To Next Month

    In the July Issue, we will talk about how Regulatory Issues are affecting the Process Industries.

    We want your feedback. Contact us

    Innovative IT Consulting, LLC
    (631) 549-1685