During a recent project a senior manager at a client company commented that it always takes them a long time to book flights, and asked if we knew any way to speed up the process.
Nowadays, individuals can book a flight online within a few minutes. Simply input your travel dates and airports and you’re presented with a list of options. Select the one you want, pay, and you’ll receive the boarding pass by email. Done.
For a company, booking a flight for an employee might not be quite such a straightforward process. However the problem most likely lies within the organisation itself.
What the question actually revealed was a systemic issue within the organisation. Specifically, multiple layers of approval which, while they may have helped to control costs, had a negative effect on efficiency.
I must admit that I’ve had a similar experience myself with a previous employer, where arranging a single flight could involve a chain of 25+ emails over a period of five days.
Our answer was that the issue could be solved in a variety of ways. For example:
- The company could set up an online approval process
- More people could be given clearance to provide approval at each stage
- The process could even be outsourced, as long as there are clear criteria for approval/rejection.
Of course, whatever they decided to do, this should all be traceable to prevent abuse of the system. However the benefits would definitely be worth the effort.
In fact the question provided an excellent opportunity to raise an important point with the client. The senior leadership team should ideally have a basic overview of not just the flight booking process but all processes that either occur in their department or have an impact on its activities. This would help to increase their awareness of how the company functions. It would also give them a greater appreciation of cross-departmental interaction, helping to prevent a silo mentality and encouraging them to put the needs of the company before the needs of their department.
All processes that occur on a regular basis should be covered by a standard operating procedure (SOP) or work Instructions. Unfortunately, if not taken seriously, these can be left to go out of date and employees may find it easier just learn from colleagues. This can lead to confusion and inconsistency. But having SOPs in place that are kept up-to-date and routinely followed can help managers have an accurate understanding of what’s actually going on day to day.
Carrying out inefficient processes every day for years can result in substantial avoidable costs. A thorough review all of your processes should not only help you build up a picture of the interconnectivity of your organisation but also highlight opportunities to improve efficiency, such as the flight booking situation we started out with. At Renoir we have significant experience in process and knowledge management and have helped hundreds of clients achieve sustainable savings. Talk to us to discover how we could help you.