First and foremost, this is not a “Top Ten” list of ways to cut down time and increase profits. There are plenty of examples of that online. Check these out. The main issue with these lists is that they usually only focus on one productivity style.
See Also: Personalizing Your Productivity
Instead, let’s focus on how a team of people, with a varying range of productivity styles, can collaborate efficiently without sacrificing quality.
The Time Suck
Sometimes it takes longer than expected to get something done, be it an email thread that goes on forever without an end in sight, or even a report that needs to be pulled together from a number of sources. Both are time sucks, eating away time and money. As a team, it’s important to identify these time sucks and come up with a solution.
If an email thread gets too long, call the person/people included on the email. If you work in the same office, get up and walk over to their desk. A five-minute conversation will get you to a resolution/decision much faster than the back and forth of an email. If it’s a report eating up your time, look at ways of automating it. Instead of you and your team pulling numbers from multiple places on a regular basis, see if you can have the data sent to you in the form of an Excel sheet, and then have a master Excel sheet built that pulls all the data together into one complete report.
Time sucks, suck. Eliminating them frees you up to focus on the things that matter most. Identify them early and find a way around them or to cut them down.
See also: Focus Pocus
The Overgrown Processes
Most organizations have processes in place so tasks are done in the right order, at the right time, by the right people. Sounds like a great way to avoid a time suck right? If you said yes, you’re absolutely correct! However, even the best designed process can get overgrown with unnecessary steps, too many team members, or even rounds of approval. Here’s a quick example.
Our old process for creating emails started with a meeting that included the account executive, project manager, art director, copywriter, and the digital media specialist. Each person had an important role in the process, and the first meeting was to lay the groundwork for each email so that every angle was thought of and nothing was either passed over or discovered too late in the creative process.
These were great because everyone was sharing their thoughts and ideas and making sure the email that went out fit the client’s objectives. However, these were horrible because the meetings would last for almost two hours. After taking a step back, we realized that we could break this into a planning session and two meetings. The digital media specialist would put together the strategy of the email (who it was going to, the goal of the email, etc.), and then pitch that to the account executive. The strategy was tweaked by any insight from the account executive, and then taken to the creative team and project manager for another round of tweaking before the creative team began working. This cut a one- to two-hour meeting for five people down to a half-hour prep for one person, a fifteen-minute meeting for two people, and another fifteen-minute meeting for four people. If you’re quick at math, that’s a five- to ten-hour meeting cut to three hours. We did this throughout the entire email creation process, even eliminating redundant steps, streamlining our email creation process.
Over time, steps are added to loop people in, new tools get rolled into the mix, and the process evolves. Take the time to routinely audit your processes, trim down the fat, and ultimately save your company time and money.