A New Year’s Resolution – Time to “Shop your Closet”

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A New Year is a time for new beginnings and it is the perfect time to learn from past experiences / mistakes.  This is a follow up post from early December where I discussed the dilemma many companies face –  they have a “closet”  full of stuff (capable people, processes, tools, technology, etc.) but never seem to have anything to “wear”.   This not only happens often, but I am willing to bet it happens close to always.  Many of our companies have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure (people, process, technology) but have neglected to fully adopt (USE!) those investments.  This results in going back to the “market” time and time again for something to “wear” when they have perfectly good “somethings” right under their nose.  So, my suggestion was “Shop Your Closet”.

Believe it or not there is a process to “Shop your Closet” which is methodical and time tested.  It does require an investment but my experience is that the return is 10 – 30 times (yes, times not percent!).  At first it feels daunting – you ask yourself, “where do I start” and I will admit that sometimes getting started is the hardest part.  Don’t be afraid to use a professional – they are experts at the process and even if they seem costly they are worth their weight in gold.  Here are the basic steps:

  • Step 1  – Take everything out, review it and create an inventory
  • Step 2 –  Review Your Inventory and classify it – Retain, Phase Out, Tweak to Retain
  • Step 3 – Create a “Reorganization” Strategy  
  • Step 4 –  Execute  a “Reorganization” Strategy  
  • Step 5 – Identify Any Gaps Execute your “Reorganization” Strategy
  • Step 6 – Close your Gaps
  • Step 7 – Enjoy the Fruit of your Labor

In this post I will provide details for Steps 1.   I will cover the rest of the process in subsequent posts.  Here we go . . . . . .

  • Step 1  – Take everything out, review it and create an inventory

This is the hardest part – getting started.  This is also where you realize that you have done a lot of “shopping” over the years – so much so that you have lost track of some valuable “purchases” that have gotten lost in the “clutter”.  Take this step seriously because here is where you will uncover Value that will be the foundation for the rest of the process.

  • For your wardrobe
    • Look in every closet, drawer, shelf, room, nook and cranny (under the bed even) to uncover everything you have.  This is the crazy part because you WILL uncover both treasures and trash . . .
    • For your department
      • Review personnel files, processes, policies, your technology architecture
      • Talk to your employees – current and past to pick their brains on what has been done in the past
      • Take a fresh look at your employees skill set – review educational backgrounds, past experience, etc.  Consider doing a skill assessment and bump that up against a competency model. You may be surprised at the untapped potential you uncover
      • Review employee job roles to see if there is any unutilized capacity
      • Review your purchases (at a high level) for the last five years to see if there is anything you missed
      • Make a list of all of your technology investments (equipment, software, etc.) and attempt to access some percentage of utilization.  For example – you implemented SAP three years ago – what % of the functionality are you actually using?
      • Talk to your key suppliers – have they sold you anything that you may have lost track of (that is easy to do in professional services)
      • Talk to your internal and external business partners – what do they know that you don’t?
      • Here , too, you will uncover both treasures (thank you very much) and “stuff” that is just creating clutter

I hope you are not tired just reading step one – I warned you it can be daunting.  It is also fun (I know, I am a little crazy :)) because there is nothing more satisfying than finding that hidden treasure (a pair of shoes you forgot about OR a talented MBA that has been lost in the crowd!).  Don’t assume that you need to buy more UNTIL you at least go thru this exercise.  By the time you get through Step 1, I’ll be back at you with the rest of the process . . . . .  Happy New Year!!!

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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