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Your time is as valuable as your money.

Enterprise time as a measurable commodity.

Let’s examine the challenges to a CEO in making use of enterprise time, one of your most valuable and often misused assets.  Enterprise time, as opposed to personal time management, is the sum total of resources available to a company expressed in terms of time – time to develop, to debug, to produce, to deploy, to respond to issues, and to make changes in plans that are not working.

The relationship between time and money

By reducing the amount of time to perform any of these actions, a company saves fixed overhead and increases profit or reduces cash burn.  So, this issue becomes one to be dealt with by every manager at every level of your organization.  Building efficiency into every corporate activity should be a corporate mandate, one to be discussed interdepartmentally, to be refereed by the CEO.

The flip side of efficient time management

There is the flip side to making efficient use of time.  I’ve labeled this time bankruptcy to make the point as dramatically as possible that this is a critical, company-threatening sinkhole that must be avoided at all costs.

Time bankruptcy is the ultimate result of the deliberate over-commitment of a company’s most valuable resource(s) by the CEO or a department leader.  There are many ways to fall into this trap.  But first,  identify what those critical resources are in your company.  Most often it is the time of the chief architect of the product or service you provide, or of the best developers of that product. Sometimes it is the time of the CEO, which when overcommitted, prevents others from gaining access to solve critical problems or continue the flow of production.

An easy way to fall into time bankruptcy.

[Email readers, continue here…]    One way to fall into the time bankruptcy trap is to release a product too early and pay the price by forcing the architect and most skilled developers to drop off their important tasks to put out fires in the field and fix problems one at a time.

And yet another way to make that mistake

Another is to fail to complete a contracted service for one customer and to do so multiple times, until many customers begin screaming for attention, drawing away all available talent from new, income earning tasks.

Now let’s make this personal to you.

You will surely be able to identify an example of time bankruptcy that you have experienced in your past or present.  It is your job to drive the company out of the time bankruptcy zone and to watch for signs of it occurring in the future, stopping the process before it becomes critical.  That means watching quality control efforts more carefully, developing metrics to track incomplete processes and track remaining time committed to completion, watching the number of customers exposed to a new product or service before general release, and more.

Again, it’s about you at the center of this firestorm.

It also means being careful that you do not become overloaded to the extent that you are unavailable or inefficient in helping those who need your attention to complete their tasks.  Use the term, time bankruptcy, in a planning session, and see what response you get from your managers and employees.  You’ll be surprised at their understanding of the issue as it relates to their being able to complete their tasks successfully and of their contributions to solutions that will benefit everyone and increase process efficiencies.

Relate enterprise time to available cash runway.

Finally, enterprise time equates to available runway, or remaining cash and resources that you can call upon to gain market share and increase corporate value. Spending enterprise time inefficiently burns those resources unnecessarily.  If you have enough reserves in cash and in time, you can dig out of the hole.  But if you are managing a marginal business, the effective use of time as a resource extends your ability to make changes, reposition, react and build.

So, if you wonder why we focus on this subject to the extent of seeming redundant, well then, it’s about time.

  • Michael O'Daniel

    Actually, I missed a third area which is a major contributor to time-wasting, and that is the failure of managers and employees to properly and fully document business processes and tech upgrades. Horror stories abound about the chaos caused by lack of documentation, especially when it comes to new tech implementations or upgrades. Regardless of the size of the organization, it could be well worth your while to designate someone as your Chief Knowledge Officer to ensure that the proper docs are originated or upgraded at all appropriate points. It will save you a lot of time / money and grief later.

  • Michael O'Daniel

    Based on my own experience, the two areas where costly (and preventable) mistakes are made that result in time-sucks later are (1) QC in product development, and (2) the design / execution of customer service.

    Obviously if the product / service isn’t properly tested and proven before it goes out the door, there’s a very good chance that faults in the product will come back to bite you later — not to mention affecting your credibility and customer satisfaction. So do you want to rush the product out the door to meet a self-imposed deadline, or ask for forgiveness / understanding from your customers so you can take the time to get it right?

    The customer service process, and adequate CSR training, staffing and management, obviously need to be in place (and constantly monitored) to handle inquiries about / support for all existing and future products. Nothing can ruin a good product, or a previously good customer relationship, faster than poor customer service. Not to mention the time that has to be spent putting out fires.

    I worked in marketing for a company** that was a market leader in its category but whose very survival was severely compromised by wretched customer service. Existing customers were being blown up faster than the sales department could bring in new customers. Sales were screaming to management about the situation but their voices were not being given sufficient weight. (Unfortunately management was getting second-hand information that “everything was OK” rather than investigating the situation firsthand.) One of the lessons I took away from this was that customer service should be a top-tier process with a direct report to both the CEO and the CMO, rather than being buried further down the hierarchy.

    **Come to think of it, more than one company. A tech company as referred to above, a service company several years earlier.

  • Fred Hameetman

    In interesting response, at this point in OUR lives, time is >more> important than money!

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