Building the foundations of a more efficient business

When it comes to setting company budgets to cover consumable products and goods, or equipment, many businesses can get stuck in a rut, doing what they’ve always done.

The recession forced companies to try and make cost savings, with many then prioritising cost over everything else. But in the quest to ensure the best deals are being brokered, sometimes the bigger picture is not being considered and this is where inefficiencies can creep in, costing more in the long run.

Consider the cost of procurement process – if shopping around for the best deal on stationery, coffee for the office kitchen or ink cartridges for the printer leads to savings, but the downtime in doing the bargain-hunting negates that cost saving, it is a wasted effort. In addition, dealing with multiple supplier ordering processes and invoices can also be a resource drain. Where possible, find a one-stop-shop for as much of the office consumables or equipment as is possible, then look to negotiate a good deal with one supplier. Consolidating in this way will be time efficient and cost efficient – and building a strong relationship with limited suppliers will enable them to tailor their offering and discounts in line with the firm’s consumption habits – with which they will become familiarised.

Get some joined-up thinking – quite often, companies large and small will have employees with different responsibilities, all prioritising different things. Getting people together to discuss company spending will not only inject some new ideas into the process, but will enable people to understand different requirements across the business and work together in achieving efficiencies that span the business. Working in siloes to save money can be fruitless if the savings are negated somewhere else by someone working to an individual agenda.

Think long-term – there may be a deal on light bulbs or the latest laser jet printer, but considering the energy consumption of various products and equipment is not only the environmentally conscious thing to do, but also good for expenditure. The energy-saving lights bulbs may be thrice the price of regular light bulbs but not only will they last longer and save energy, they will need ordering and paying for less frequently, thus reducing the procurement process. It can take a while to change the mind-set if this hasn’t been considered before, and will cost more in the short-term to implement. However, the rewards will one day be reaped the cost savings will be accumulative.

When considering ways to improve efficiencies, sometimes suggested changes can be dismissed as too small to make a difference – but it is block by block that the foundations of efficiency are built.