Working more effectively and productively is the goal of every company. In the UK, productivity and efficiency have slowed down over the past decade, and we are less productive than some of our European counterparts, even though we work longer hours.
There are multiple factors at play in the country’s productivity levels, and experts are scratching their heads over what they are calling the ‘productivity puzzle’. But when looking at the efficient performance of individual companies, part of the problem often relates to their technology and IT systems, and this is where the ‘magic minute’ comes into play.
In a nutshell, the magic minute is the optimum time to upgrade an ageing system before it falls too far behind and costs more money to keep running than it does to replace it (similar to replacing an old car before the repair bills begin to get too large).
If your staff are using older technology that has begun to slow down, how much time are they losing from waiting even one extra minute every day for an inefficient computer to catch up? One minute does not sound very much at all, but if it happens on a daily basis, one staff member will lose five minutes a week, which equates to four hours every working year. If you multiply that by the number of people in your company, you will begin to realise how much time and money your company is losing on an annual basis. As your technology gets older and less efficient, that lost minute becomes two minutes a day, then three… The tipping point is when it costs your firm less to upgrade your technology than it loses by having staff twiddling their thumbs waiting for their computers to catch up.
As an example, we replaced the hardware and improved the technology for one legal client, which resulted in load times being reduced and the apps running more quickly. A review with fee earners revealed that this had saved each person 5-10 mins a day just on waiting time – 10 minutes a day across all fee earners is hugely significant in terms of billable hours.
While upgrading will solve time inefficiencies (and make your staff happy), the additional solutions that technology offers can reward your firm with a far bigger ROI. We work with many accountancy and law firms and it is not unusual for fee earners to only be able to complete around 2-3 billable hours a day, even with the long hours they usually work.
This doesn’t have to be the case. The good news is that professional services firms can significantly improve fee earners’ productivity with the aid of technological applications.
We work with our clients to get a high-level understanding of company strategy and what their business is trying to achieve. We also look at what people need to accomplish, establish where the bottlenecks are and analyse the fee earners’ jobs. We will then give them the tools that will enable staff, and fee earners in particular, to do more work in less time.
This means your fee earners can spend more of their time with their clients, giving them a better customer experience. The business adage that ‘people buy people’ applies – all professional service firms offer similar services, but it is the ability to give clients a superior ‘white glove service’ that makes you stand out from the competition, at the same time as increasing trust, loyalty and reputation.
In the long run, your company will not just save money, you will also have more time to research revenue creation opportunities which could potentially add even more value to your business.
We have developed a new free tool to help you assess the state of your business’s technology and find out how close you are to the magic minute.
Mindful of the productivity puzzle, we are about to launch a trial of our own. We have shifted our mindset to look at output rather than hours worked and are experimenting with reducing our weekly working hours from 40 to 35. At the same time, we will be introducing shift patterns that will enable our Helpdesk to be open for longer, which will benefit clients and staff alike.
Studies have consistently proven that we are actually less productive the longer hours we work. An experiment by a financial services company in New Zealand found that by reducing the working week to four days, staff became 20% more productive as well as happier. We hope that the change in our own working hours will prove successful too – watch this space!