Finance

Want to cut costs?

Try managing demand.

Often leaders request reports, analytics and presentations without fully understanding the time and effort required by their team to produce such information.  Non-standard requests can be especially time consuming, and can result in:

  • More detail than what is necessary to make a decision  
  • Multiple, custom views of the same information
  • Multiple, non-standard methods/processes for preparing information
  • Analysis prepared “just in case” a question might be asked by leadership

The aforementioned are consequences of ineffective demand management and often lead to the hiring and/or retention additional resources that are not truly needed to run the business, thereby driving up costs for an organization.

To more effectively manage demand within an organization, leaders should adhere to the four demand management principles outlined below.

1. Strategize

Before requesting information from your team, think about what you really need in order to make a decision.  Don’t request more information than what is absolutely required for you to make an informed decision.  Further, when sending out a request to your team, clearly define the objectives, requirements and timeline prior to asking your team to start the work.  Define what the desired output looks like and set expectations in regards to the level of effort required to complete the task.  Lastly, discourage your team from preparing “just in case” analysis, as it’s time consuming to produce and is often not needed or reviewed by leadership.

2. Simplify

Ask your team to simplify the information provided to you in reports, analyses and presentations.  More information is not always better, and complex explanations do not enable quick decision-making.  Your team should focus on providing clear and concise explanations for material opportunities and/or issues only.  Further, consider setting a limit on the number of slides or information presented during meetings in an effort to encourage your team to focus on analyzing and presenting what really matters.

3. Streamline

Focus on streamlining all processes, reviews, requests, iterations and meetings within your organization to increase efficiency.  Detailed analysis should decline exponentially moving up the organization, the frequency and duration of meetings should be driven by the content required for making decisions and ad hoc requests should be rationalized and kept to a minimum.  Further, you should challenge yourself and users of reports, analyses and presentations to reduce the number of iterations prepared and reviews conducted within a given time period, as additional iterations and reviews are time-consuming and often do not result in higher quality output.

4. Standardize

Standardizing reports, templates, timelines, guidelines and processes saves time and yields a more consistent work product over time, which is why it should be a priority within your organization.  You should define and communicate standard timelines for analysis across your organization and leverage the same timelines, templates and processes across all business units, divisions, sites, geographies, etc. to the extent possible.  After standards are set, they should be reviewed and evaluated and improved every four to six months to ensure they are working effectively.

By adhering to the four principles outlined above, leaders can create a more efficient and cost effective organization by either reducing the number of resources within their organization or reassigning them to work on more strategic, revenue-growth related initiatives.

Katie Swartz

Katie Swartz is the Founder & CEO of Avant Strategy. She has nearly fifteen of experience working with senior and C-suite executives to drive change within their respective organizations. She's managed transformational projects across strategy, operations, finance and M&A in countries throughout North America, Europe & Asia.

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