Expand productive time by reducing supervision of unchanged tasks

An article in the Harvard Bus. Rev., May 2010 at 77, discusses practical steps to reduce overhead. Under the first category of incremental savings, what the authors call reductions of 10 percent, is to “reduce spending on department management.” The authors claim that “Most administrative departments (particularly those with more than 20 employees) use as much as 20% of their budgets to supervise and coordinate their own activities.”

Few general counsel would admit to such a high figure, but oversight of others exists in any legal department of 10 or more lawyers (20 or more total staff typically). To hack away at that overhead, the authors recommend that you look for tasks that haven’t changed much in a year and reduce supervision of those who complete them. “As a rule of thumb, you should be able to reduce the number of hours devoted to supervision by about 10% in each year that the department’s duties remain largely unchanged, as long as there has been little turnover.” Presumably the time freed up allows the supervisors to take on more useful tasks.

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