Focus on the big picture

I met with a department manager the other day who had very little excel experience, he was able to do simple data entry and knew that formulas existed, but not how to create them.  In October we had a talk about training and how long it took to manually do state mandated reporting – about 40-50 hours of summary statistics, all done by hand sorting and calculations.  Call me in January and we can set up some training and set up a spreadsheet that will automate the process, should take under 2 hours for the spreadsheet development and we can cut your total time on state reporting down to under 5 hours, probably under 2.  Most of the data was already entered into MS Word, not in a spreadsheet to enable data manipulation.  No biggie, I thought, copy here, paste there, couple of totals, averages and percentage calculations,  and a year to date summary sheet, wave my magic wand, and ZAP!  Required yearly reporting done in record time.

January rolls around and I called on the manager to see how things are going.  “Not good” replied the manager, “my budget got cut by 25% and it was tight last year.  This year is going to be awful.”

Perfect time to save 40-45 hours of your time, right?  Not according to this salaried manager – his time was already in the budget and all he could see is more money going out of the checkbook, not the time savings that would not translate into cash.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have been there where every single penny counts and there is not enough to pay all the bills.    But to ignore saving 40 hours for under a $200 investment?  Wow…. I am still shaking my head over that logic.  Since it was a REALLY small project, I did not want to get into a long sales pitch showing the benefits of the automation, I just walked away and wondered how much longer that manager would be around. – if your labor is paid minimum wage and you don’t believe the time savings, this is a logical conclusion.  At minimum wage, you must save more than 28 hours to pay off investment.

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