Finance managers across government are looking at ways to reduce the cost of Finance and government operations in response to flat or reduced budgets for the foreseeable future. The initial rounds of budget cuts are being achieved though quick, short-term actions, e.g., reduced travel, training, and contracted services. What I see less of are longer term initiatives to sustain savings through more efficient processes, systems and organization. It is my observation that slow progress in these areas can in part be attributed to managers waiting for home run solutions.
More often than not, games are won through singles and doubles, not home runs. Re-engineering processes, automation, migrating functions to a shared services center are often single base hits. However, five percent savings here, ten percent there, do add up. And the savings are recurring. At IBM where I work, streamlining initiatives are continuously underway. Sometimes there are home-runs, but more often than not the changes are single base hits… consolidation of a function, reengineering a system or process, or giving up a floor of leased office space. But the change is relentless. I can’t recall not being in the midst of change. And the resulting savings, sometime big, often small, have helped our company survive, and even thrive in tough times like this when top line growth is hard to find.