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Cost Saving through Analyzing Job Duties

I recently posted about small business owners examining their businesses to make sure that job duties were being performed by the correct staff.  If you missed that post and would like to review it, CLICK HERE.  Today I am sharing a procedure you can use to analyze your staff duties.

 

The first step in performing a job duty analysis is to pick the medium you use to do the analysis.  For me, the best way to do this is to use an Excel spreadsheet.  I like the ability to move items around by just cutting and pasting.  I am sure my bias is based upon years of crunching numbers with Excel.  Don’t panic, if Excel isn’t your strength, there are other ways to do this.  For those who prefer a more free flow approach, you can also do this project using a word processing program, such as Word.  You can also use a white board or even just pen and paper.  The important thing is to use the medium that will work best for you.  These are just tools that help you get the project done.

Once you choose your medium, your next step is to make a list with three columns.  Name, Existing Duties, Final Duties.  Leave enough space so that you have enough room to list everything.  Remember that you may not include everything the first time through, so leave enough space so you can add things later.  (This is another reason I like a spreadsheet, you can easily insert rows and columns later). 

When your format is set up, the real work begins.  You are going to list all of your staff and all of their major duties on your medium.  When listing the duties, you need to include enough detail so you know what the duty is, but not all the procedure manual steps to completing the task.  Here are some examples.  A task such as “runs the office” is probably too general.  You need to be more specific, listing major categories like “supervises Position A & Position B” and “Is responsible for vendor relations with Copier and Office Supply vendors.”  Choose items for your categories that take a lot of time to perform or have significant responsibility or high monetary impact on your business.

Once you have completed your list, it is time to start analyzing your data.  Start by taking a general look at the overall distribution of duties.  Are the duties spread out appropriately in general given the staff resources you have?  Do you have staff that is being underutilized?  Do you have staff that has too many things to do?  Are there any duties that stick out and make you wonder “why is that staff performing that duty?”  It is important to list out the duties so that you can see these things without having to conceptualize them in your head.  Having the list gives you a perspective that can be harder to see if you are just thinking about it.

You also need to look at each duty looking at these types of things.  Is this person the best person to be performing this duty?  Best includes both looking at their ability to perform the duty and what you specifically hired them to do.  They may be good at ordering the office supplies, but if doing that keeps them away from their real job of selling product, you are being hurt in the long run.  Does performing this duty take them away from more important duties that would provide a greater benefit to the mission?  Does this duty conflict with other duties that the staff is performing?  This is especially important around duties that involve any contact with cash.

Hire people you trust and expect them to be trustworthy.  Tell them what you expect.  People want to be in a place where they are valued.  Your expectation will affect the tone in your business, but more importantly, it affects your behavior.  If you expect your people to steal from you, it is likely that they will.  If you expect them to be trustworthy and reinforce that with your words and actions, you are going to end up with trustworthy employees that want to be with you.  Put procedures in place that provide reasonable safeguards for the business.  Then hire people that you trust and show them that you trust them.  You will get what you expect.  Expect the best.

 Is the duty NECESSARY or have we outgrown the need to do it?  Are we doing this duty the most efficient way we can or are we just doing it the way we always have done it?  You and your staff may be reluctant to change the way you are doing something.  Many people resist change.  Make sure that the change you are resisting is not something that will ultimately make you more efficient once you learn it.

Let me give you an example of this.  Your staff wants to take service requests either in person or by phone instead of learning a new computer based system, but their office hours are only from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday thru Friday.  The staff argues that the customer gets a more personal experience from their procedure.  The reality is that in this computer age, the customer expects to be able to make the request any time of day.  The opportunity for the personal experience is in the follow up instead of the initial contact.

Once you get through the questions, take what you learned and reassign the duties based upon what you learned in the analysis.  You will have to go through the questions again with the new assignments to make sure you get the right mix of workload, ability matching and separation of duties.  This is the real world, everything will not be perfect in your new duty structure.  But you will know where the opportunities to improve are and as you grow, you will know where to make adjustments as you hire.  You will also know what skill sets you are missing or weak in so that when you hire, you know what the new person needs to be able to do.

Copyright

© 2018 Dan Heiland 2018 Kat Heil, LLC

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