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An efficiency analysis.

In these very competitive time, running efficiently is a must. If you don't your competition will eat your lunch.

You can make your organization run more efficiently by closely studying your business. It requires, above all else, an open mind, objectively, good observation skills, and creativity. It also takes time, research, perseverance, and a dogged attention to detail. It is not easy. If it were, every organization would run efficiently. But they do not.


Who perform a task is an area that has tremendous improvement potential. This can be accomplished by shifting responsibilities to take advantage of individual's strengths and weaknesses.

Tasks may be divided geographically or functionally. For example, two people may do the same thing, but for different properties. Or, one person might handle all properties, but only perform part of the task.

Restructuring tasks to take advantage of a person's strengths can be very beneficial to an organization. For example, after processing building invoices, the accounts payable clerk at one management company gives the invoices to purchasing, who updates the unit information in the system. This involves the A/P clerk walking to another part of the company every day and visiting with the purchasing employees. Purchasing then accesses the same records and updates them.

It was simple to change the procedure so the A/P clerk updated the records and then filed them, eliminating the paperwork being handled by another person. Reducing the number of people handling each piece of paper saves time, errors, and confusion.


Each person must be asked what his or her responsibilities are. Take detailed notes as they speak and interrupt and ask question if necessary.

Find out how many transactions are handled by the person and how long each transaction takes in order to estimate how long it should take to perform a job. Ask the employees how long it takes them to do their jobs and compare that to what you estimate it should take. Also, ask the employees if they have time to assist elsewhere.


"Why do you do that?" is a question that must be asked often. "Why" is one of the most revealing questions you can ask. Unfortunately, you will frequently hear "It has always been done this way." Or, "I don't know."

Take careful note of why something is done. In addition, even when the employee answers "why" and it appears to be reasonable, it may not be.

For example, one company was keeping a manual log of all tenants moving in. This appeared to be a reasonable, necessary function. Upon additional investigation and questioning, however, it was found that in the company was also entering the data in their computer system. They just needed a report off the system to give them the information sorted as they needed it. The log was eliminated.


"How" is another valuable question to ask. "How do you do that?", for example. There is often great room for improvement in the methods that are used to perform a task.

For example, another property management company explained that every month they manually went through and determined all delinquent tenants so they quickly act on them. This took a tremendous amount of time.

The company has since switched to a computer-generated delinquency report, saving time and errors. All manual lists contain errors and take time.

Another management company sorts and files invoices by due date. The invoices remain in the file and until due. They are then entered in the system and individually "selected" to be paid.

There are many ways this process can be done better. First of all, the company should not take the time to sort invoices by due date and file them. They should enter them in the system as they receive them and specify the payment date to be whatever future date it should be. The system will automatically pay the invoice by the date specified. This eliminates sorting and filing. It also eliminates the need for someone to select each invoice.


"When do you do that?" There may be a better time to perform a task than when it is currently done. This should become evident when all functions have been studied.

If a computer backup is done first thing in the morning, it prevent everyone else from using the system while they are waiting for it to complete. A better time may be at the end of the day. Perhaps the person doing the backup can come in an hour later and stay an hour longer and do the backup.


Finally, "where" also may be able to be improved upon. Some organizations function in a loud, distracting environment. In such an atmosphere, it is difficult to concentrate or talk on the phone to tenants or clients. It is also conducive to employees' socializing.

There may be ways to inexpensively create separate work areas by repositioning file cabinets between functional areas to create a division or by investing in some partitions. Generally, when people are at work, it should be quiet.


Now you are ready for the analysis phase of the project. Here, all of the data gathered is manipulated, examined, and questioned. It helps to ask yourself questions when doing the analysis. For example, "Is that necessary?" "Why?" Do not accept as gospel that something is necessary because an employee said it was.

The best advice is to take nothing for granted. Never assume that something is being done the best it can be. There is always room for improvement. Jill Giesey is a management consultant with SFB Zinner & Co., a certified public accounting firm in Cleveland. Ms. Giesey specializes in achieving operational efficiency. She is also a faculty member at John Carroll University in Cleveland.
COPYRIGHT 1991 National Association of Realtors
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Giesey, Jill
Publication:Journal of Property Management
Date:Jul 1, 1991
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