There are a lot of tedious tasks that we put off or would rather just not do! Often, these types of tasks don’t take too long, but can cause delays if not completed. If you find yourself battling with this, it may be time to ask:
Where could you save 10 minutes a day?
That’s the exact question Lorna Leonard, Managing Director of Leonard Business Services, asked her team at the start of 2023. Focusing on tasks that were being put off for various reasons, Lorna found a potential time saving of 54 hours a month!
Today Lorna joins us to share her story of how saving just 10 minutes a day can potentially lead to 8 days’ worth of time saved, in addition to the pitfalls and solutions she found along the way.
- Who are Leonard Business Services
- Why did the 10 minute initiative start?
- The power of saving 10 minutes a day
- What challenges did they face?
In this episode, we talk about:
[01:25] An Introduction to Lorna Leonard and Leonard Business Services – a virtual finance department who are certified to ISO 9001. Lorna also joined us on a previous episode, Chaos to Calm, to talk about their experience working during the COVID pandemic.
[03:25] The challenge: Lorna started off with only 1 other member of staff, over the years they’ve grown to 7, with an increasing number of associates. With the organisation growing, Lorna was unable to be as hands on as she was before, so some things started to slip through the cracks. She wanted to ensure that was nipped in the bud early on.
The nature of her business needs very specific qualities in individuals, ones that are hard to come by. So, she was seeking to save as much wasted time with her current team as possible.
[04:50] Nothing is ever down to human error, it always comes down to a process – Some words of wisdom from Rachel Churchman, a Blackmores Managing Consultant who works with Lorna with on-going support. Processes change, they need regular review and updates to ensure they work well for you. Lorna found that a number of their processes created bubbles of inefficiency, which resulted in various 10-15 minute tasks that others found frustrating to complete.
[05:50] Saving 10 minutes a day: As a result of the process review, Lorna decided to focus on just saving 10 minutes a day – taking baby steps to tackle a bigger problem. She asked all of her staff to think of any tasks they found frustrating, and added them to a log. She kept that log going until May, to capture a snapshot of the issues before tackling them. This is just so she could measure the results more accurately later on.
[08:15] What tasks did Lorna’s staff highlight as frustrating?: A lot of problems were a result of software systems not talking to each other, meaning a lot of basic merging / collating of data had to be done manually between 2 systems.
[09:25] How they calculated the potential time-savings: Using the log, they estimated the time taken for each task, including consideration for which other members of staff may be affected by the same issues. At the end of the May, they found that there was a potential time-saving of 54 hours, which amounts to a full 8 days of work!
[11:25] Taking principles of ISO 9001 to heart: Lorna has truly embraced one of the key elements of ISO 9001 – addressing non-conformities through looking at your risks and weaknesses. By taking a step back and shining a spotlight on the negative, you can work towards making a positive change, and continually improving your way of working.
[13:30] How did Lorna’s team feel about the iniative: At the start, it was like pulling teeth. Many felt as if the wasted time was a reflection on their performance rather than a failure of processes and systems which weren’t working as efficiently as they could. Once improvements were starting to be implemented, the team could see just how valuable this exercise was. Lorna even received kudos (through an internal perk system) from the Team!
[16:45] A part of the exercise involved accepting some things that you can’t change.
[17:00] The tip of the iceberg: One issue can lead down a deeper path. For example, Lorna found that their expenses app wasn’t integrating with their accounting app – resulting in a manual exchange of data. By talking to app support, they were able to find a solution. 2 weeks later Lorna found that, that solution resulted in fixing a problem elsewhere that she wasn’t even aware of!
[18:30] For the things that can’t be changed, there is always a possibility to look at more long-term solutions that may require a roadmap to get to. The key takeaway is that you’re making worthwhile improvements, no matter how quickly or long they may take to achieve.
[19:30] Other types of solutions found: Most of the solutions came down to outsourcing. For example, Lorna is not a software expert, so resolving the software system issues would have taken a long time. Luckily, she found an associate in Michigan who specialised in API development, who could create ways to make the systems talk to each other using Zapier. It wasn’t always possible as some apps don’t allow for custom triggers, but there was a lot of issues he could help resolve. Lorna now thinks of him as an extension of the team.
[22:00] Another example of time-saving: Lorna’s team often have to fill out P11D’s and submit them to HMRC on behalf of clients. The format that is provided made it difficult for staff to fill out, meaning it caused a lot of headache and wasted a lot of time just trying to reformat them in an easily editable way. They managed to source a system that does this for them, at a small cost per year. It was definitely worth it – saving the whole team 3 days’ worth of time a year!
[26:00] Leonard Business Services is a perfect example of how taking a proactive approach can lead to great success. They have won a number of awards over the years, and will no doubt win many more in the future.
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