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Finance and administration.

Creative cost-cutting. The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, Alexandria, Virginia--a winner in the human resources category--was sinking in recessionary quicksand, having lost approximately $250,000 in unrenewed memberships and decreased participation in group health insurance programs. PIA management had to make reductions to make ends meet.

"We closely scrutinized every project or program with an eye toward eliminating it altogether or doing it in the most cost-efficient manner possible," says PIA Director of Personnel Diane Keith.

To enlist the help of staff, PIA created a formal program--"People In Action." The program works like this: Employees submit ideas in writing to COPP-Council on People Power--an 11-member volunteer staff group. Ideas may promote efficiency; save time, energy, or money; or improve communication and relationships among PIA members and staff. COPP members then evaluate the suggestion. If the idea is accepted, PIA financially rewards the employee based upon the actual savings the idea generated.

Of the 10-12 staff-submitted ideas, COPP has approved 3 for a $15,000 savings. One staff member's idea helped PIA cut the $80 a month it spent on pastries for meetings to $22 a month. "We were spending an exorbitant amount on pastries," Keith explains. "Instead of just calling the local bakery shop, the staff member suggested we try to get bids for corporate discounts at other shops.

"Regardless of position, employees with hands-on exposure involved with day-to-day systems and procedures often have really good ideas, but for any number of reasons are reluctant to speak out," Keith explains. "But once the initial $500 dollar award was made, doors were opened to employees at all levels to come forward with their ideas."

Involved, committed, and efficient. "Project Team Operating Procedures"--developed and implemented by the Society of Automotive Engineers, Warrendale, Pennsylvania--gives the 90 employees in the association's finance and administration division the opportunity to improve the quality of service at their association.

At SAE--a winner in the human resources category--a group guidance team of four SAE employees selects projects, identifies goals, prepares a mission statement, determines resources, and recruits a project team. A project team of five staff volunteers with a knowledge of the project researches and collects data to solve the problem. The project team then presents its data and solution--first to the guidance team and later to its leadership team.

Cindy Graham, SAE administrative secretary to the controller, uses the following real-life SAE example to illustrate the concept. There is one copy machine for each of SAE's divisions. Users were asked to sign a log sheet next to each copy machine to record when they used the machine and how many copies they made. The log sheet enabled finance and administration personnel to calculate monthly costs for each division.

A project team took on the responsibility of researching an alternative method for tracking copy costs. Its suggestion--one that was well-received by SAE's leadership and guidance teams as well as SAE staff members--was to purchase Auditron, a software package installed on each copy machine that automatically records data when staff punch in a particular division code. The information is then easily transferred to a computerized accounting ledger.

In this specific example, Graham says, "it has made everyone's job a lot easier and is saving money at the same time." Overall, she adds that the operating procedures "make employees more aware that they play a critical role in making decisions on things that impact their own jobs and responsibilities. "
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society of Association Executives
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Hard-Earned Rewards; award winners of the American Society of Association Executives
Author:Mascari, Patricia A.
Publication:Association Management
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Previous Article:Education.
Next Article:Government relations.

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