"Overhead" is a fact of life for any business, regardless of size. Every aspect of operating a business has a cost, monetary or otherwise, that generally can’t be avoided, but sometimes companies add costs that they don’t need for reasons that are unclear.
It's easy to pile up these expenses, as they can start off as part of other overheads. Even so, when left unchecked, these once small costs can quickly balloon and result in major setbacks that can impact every aspect of your business.
For IT managers and business owners, reducing these types of resource waste is vital for ensuring the continued success and longevity of their companies. While they may be borne out of necessary activities, it’s important to recognize when you have gratuitous waste on your hands, and to find ways to stem the tide.
Here are four of the biggest resource wasters, and ways you can rapidly overcome them.
1. Falling into social media black holes
Social media is a staple of marketing, both for B2C and B2B audiences, and having a presence on multiple channels is no longer optional for businesses. Even so, some would have you believe that you need to be on every platform and every channel to form a successful strategy. Moreover, it's become common practice by many marketers to advocate simply buying audiences and engagement – paying for likes, post boosting, and new followers.
Additionally, as companies try to maintain an edge over their competitors, every new trend feels like a must-have. The reality, however, is that this bandwagon effect is far from useful. While having a presence on multiple channels is important, not every platform gives you a direct benefit. Companies that deal in industrial solvents or SaaS products don’t necessary need Snapchat or Instagram accounts, for example, but may benefit from a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Spreading your resources out too thin to stay active where your audience doesn’t really spend any time can quickly kill your marketing budget and hurt your business.
How you fix it – The easiest solution to social media creep is to turn to data to give you real answers. One of the few trends that should be adopted by pretty much every business is social media analytics. Understanding your real impact, as well as which channels are best suited for your presences, is vital for ensuring you’re not overspending, but rather allocating your dollars to the most effective destinations.
2. Using too many tools
This is another area where many executives assume that more is always better. The ease with which companies can add new tools thanks to the SaaS model lets companies quickly onboard new services on demand.
However, the model falls apart when those making decisions aren't the ones dealing with the big picture. IT managers and CIOs understand a company's tech needs, but they're not always empowered to make those choices.
The addition of more tools and applications creates logistical and management nightmares that are hard to resolve. For one, even though then monthly fees for individual tools are often low, once you have subscriptions to dozens upon dozens of tools running at once, they can grow costly quickly. Furthermore, having that many tools means some of them are probably not getting used to their full potential. Managing permissions, people coming and leaving the company, and overseeing accounts can waste your IT team’s time that might be spent more valuably elsewhere.
How you fix it – A jumbled approach to SaaS integrations can be bad if managed improperly, but creating a more efficient and centralized management system for your tools can deliver real results. Pipedrive, a software company with over 400 team members, recently started using a platform to map and centralize all their app administration in a single location, and they found that this change alone saves their IT team about 1.5 hours per offboarded employee.
3. Meetings about meetings
Meetings are a hallmark of corporate life, and even new businesses are prone to schedule meetings about anything and everything. Bosses feel the need to have direct communication with their teams or individual employees, different teams need to huddle for coordinating on ongoing projects, and weekly company-wide meetings are standard.
However, these meetings can have a decidedly negative impact on productivity. The worst part is that more than simply impairing productivity, they actually hurt your bottom line.
Besides, it's not like people view these meetings as productive, or even worthwhile. A 2014 study by Bain & Company found that a weekly meeting of executives at a company took up 7,000 hours a year, while the total meetings had wasted 300,000 of total worker hours. All told, a penchant for meetings can emerge as one of the biggest drains on productivity, and therefore, your profit-generating capacity.
How you fix it – The obvious answer is to be more discerning about what meetings you schedule and for how long. Most meetings are not necessary and can be replaced by emails, chat channels and other instant communication methods. More importantly, find the right channels to reduce the need for face-to-face meetings. Project management tools and messaging applications can supplant them while simultaneously reducing the need to stop working in order to communicate.
4. Over-reliance on the gig economy
Outsourcing is by far one of the most game-changing trends of the past decade, as companies find it easier to ship out smaller, menial tasks to contractors. Done right, outsourcing can reduce costs, free up your team for the right tasks, and lower your need for more workers. However, when overdone, it can have the opposite effect.
Leaning too heavily on outsourced work can result in your overall product quality decreasing (in many cases, you get what you pay for), and can force you to spend the time fixing work that could have been done by a paid worker for less resources. What’s more, shoddy work not only results in you squandering current resources, but consequently future revenue potential as a function of your reputation being tarnished.
Finally, outsourcing requires you to manage the process, and have a clear strategy—something many companies don’t factor directly into their costs.
How you fix it – Instead of being your go-to strategy, outsourcing should be used more as a scalpel than a knife. That is, use outsourcing when it is necessary and makes sense, instead as your first option. In many cases, focus your resources on completing work in-house, and find outsourcing services with a record of superb quality to ensure you’re not double spending on every outsourced contract.
Reducing waste is a conscious choice
Cutting down on waste is far from impossible but requires a conscious effort. Identifying areas where you’re not performing well may be difficult but taking actions to resolve them will start paying off immediately.
Focus on those aspects of your business that don’t necessarily deliver the intended results, and find ways to replace wasteful processes with more efficient solutions.