Guest blog by Dennis Bridges, MBA

In last month’s installment of “It’s a Process”, Mike Mack took us on a charming journey to the Big Muddy Badlands of southern Saskatchewan.  While on this journey we discovered that process and productivity go hand in hand even in places we rarely consider them being a topic for discussion.  This week I’d like to bring the discussion back to the “big city”.

A few days ago I was talking with a friend of mine who to own a successful plumbing company.  He was catching me up on how things are going with the company, new projects, staffing, shop space, and so on, when he began to probe me with questions about process.  Shortly after starting the company he and his business partner noticed they were having trouble getting the numbers right, in order to quote a job so that it was profitable they would need a system for tracking labor hours and other costs.  Moreover, if they ever wanted to be able to take the odd vacation and get other things done, they would have to define a process for implementing and running these systems.

They began using time sheets that would be completed on site to track costs and labor.  These sheets would then be input into Excel by my good friend every evening after he had eaten a late dinner, after a full day of work, when he remembered to do it.  You can imagine this wasn’t sitting well with him and in short order he came to his connections for help improving the process.  Now his sheets are run through Google Docs and as all of his Lead Hands have smart phones they input the information directly into the excel doc in real time.  He is now able to see where people are at any given time and for the most part what the company has spent that day.  Moreover, he only has to input his own activity into the system and can do it before he gets home.

Making your business operation more efficient, productive, and ideally profitable takes effort and commitment.

How have you thought about improving business process within your company?  Could certain business operations be improved with some focus and effort?  What’s your next step to process improvement?



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