It’s Time for a Little Spring Cleaning ….

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Spring CleaningSpring!  What Spring !@#$%^&*)  I’m working in my Chicago office and it is 46 degrees outside AND it is May 1st !  On a more serious note, this is my favorite time of year, BUT it normally starts at the end of March 😀 !  For me, Spring represents a time of new beginnings and a time to reflect on the year ahead – especially for my wardrobe!  I know this sounds crazy but I love to put away all my winter clothes and rediscover what I packed away several months ago.  My first instinct is to run out and buy a new wardrobe but I know that I have “investments” that I made in the past that I need to utilize.  If I don’t,   my ROI on those “investments” go way down as does my value conversion ratio (utilization rate).  So, while shopping is really fun (for me) I always start by “shopping my closet”

If this sounds familiar, I am glad because that means you actually read what I wrote about a year ago.  But as I visit my clients, I realize that this concept is worth repeating – not about your wardrobe but about the “investments” (people, process, tolls, technology, etc.) you make every day within your business. Would you be surprised to learn that introducing anything new (innovation) usually results in a utilization rate of less than 10%.  What this means is that, in theory, about 90% of your “investments” are underutilized.  Even if you find this statistic impossible to believe, cut it by 2/3 and it is still a big number.  What we have a tendency to do, when we get our new budget, is to add new “investments” before looking at the ones we already have.  I get it!  It is always more fun to buy new than to try to utilize / recycle what we already have BUT every time we do that the ROI and utilization rate of our current “investments” go down.

So here is my Springtime advice . . . .  start your Spring cleaning by “shopping your closet”.  Here is a Spring cleaning checklist for you to consider:


  1. Do you have the right people, with the right skills, at the right level, doing the right work?
  2. Do you have an organization structure in place that supports the way you want to get the work done? For example, if collaboration is important, does your structure support that goal?
  3. Do you have an on-boarding process in place to ensure that new employees can be immediately effective?
  4. Do you have the right leaders in place?
  5. Have you provided new leaders with the skills to lead as opposed to do?
  6. Do you have a current competency model and training curricula in place to support the intellectual growth of your people and the value that you can provide the organization?
  7. If you are providing training, has it elevated the organizational competency of your group?  Is there an adoption bridge in place to ensure that the new competencies are being utilized?

Process / Tools

  1. If you can’t remember the last time you looked at your business processes and tools, it is probably time to look at them
  2. If you have recently redesigned, updated or streamlined your processes and tools are you using them?
  3. Do your current business processes reflect the maturity of your organization (e.g. Purchasing to Strategic Sourcing to Category Management, etc.)?’
  4. Have you reviewed your processes under the context of the value they are creating for the business?  Can you articulate the business problem being solved or the opportunity being pursued?  In other words, what value is being created? Are there any processes that can be eliminated / improved with technology?


  1.  Prior to buying a new technology solution, have you verified that the underlying process is worth automating?
  2. Can you increase the current utilization rate of your existing technology?
  3.  Is there an opportunity to retire old legacy systems with more updated technology that you already OWN?

I could go on and on . . . . .and I may already have 😀 !  We are all asked to do more with less and a little Spring cleaning can go a long way to ensuring that your future “investments” are complimenting, not diluting your current ones.  Before you go out and shop –  “shop your closet”.


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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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