Useless and Unworkable

Take a close look at how you operate. Do you have policies and/or procedures that are outdated? Do they actually make it harder for employees to be effective and efficient? If so, ask yourself some questions.

Was This Ever Needed?

Upon examination you may find that your company has policies and procedures that never were needed or were so poorly designed that they never worked as intended. This is actually a fairly common occurrence. A policy or procedure starts out being written with the best of intentions but for whatever reason becomes more of a burden than an improvement. This can happen for numerous reasons, some of which are the individual(s) writing it really did not understand how things actually work, the employees who would be expected to use them were never consulted, and the level of detail exceeded what was practical. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m in no way opposed to sound policies and procedures, but I do think they should improve your operations rather than hinder and that they should be workable.

Are the Policies and Procedures Workable?

Workable can be pictured by considering a manufacturing operation. You may have heard that there are design engineers and manufacturing engineers. Unfortunately what often happens is the design engineers design a product and send it on to manufacturing. Unfortunately manufacturing often finds that the design is unworkable from a manufacturing standpoint. This is when manufacturing engineers step in and make changes to the design so that it is actually possible to make the product. It would have helped if the design engineers had brought the manufacturing engineers into the process at an earlier time.

Like the manufacturing example, this is can happen with policies and procedures if those who will use them are not consulted during the writing phase. As a result this leaves a company with what is often useless and unworkable.

You are probably aware of the turmoil that trying to implement the Affordable Care Act has created. I don’t raise this as a matter of whether this law is good or bad as that moves into the realm of politics where everyone has their own views and opinions. The reason I mention it is because so much of the law are apparently creating requirements that are having unintended consequences. An example is the employer mandate. Companies are reducing the number of employees or making them part-time in order to stay below the 50 employee threshold where they are required to furnish health insurance. I doubt that Congress intended for this to be a consequence. As a result this is being revisited to try to undo the unintended with additional regulations. Of course, much of this could have been avoided if companies had been sufficiently involved in developing the legislation to make sure aspects of it were not useless, unworkable, or both. Also, anytime you have to add more rules or regulations it creates more burdens.

Have Needs Changed?

Have you ever been in a situation where reports are produced every day, week, or month that nobody is actually using? While these reports may have been useful at some point, changes may have rendered them obsolete. Perhaps better information is available from another source. It is also possible that a procedure was put in place to produce a report that was originally thought would be useful, yet it became clear to the users that it was not really helpful. Unfortunately these same individuals may be guilty of failing to let those preparing the reports know this. As a result the preparers continue to produce information that is not really used. What a waste of time.

After all of the above, here is the bottom line. When you are considering new policies and procedures, make sure you have the right people involved in developing them. Periodically review your existing ones to see if they are still useful or needed.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.

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