“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

~ Boyd K. Packer

I can remember my Mom repeating this quote when I was young. She had been raised by her grandmother, who had lived through the Great Depression – and Nana had instilled this into my mother’s upbringing.

I don’t know if it is higher awareness to environmental impacts or the greater financial caution that we may now carry after our recent Recession, but I think most people – and organizations – pause more than we used to before of disposing older items and replacing them with new ones.

As a software manufacturer and service provider, we run into this more frequently with our clients. Organizations are always trying to innovate / streamline / optimize the bottom line – and more – which is a good thing. It would only make sense to try to get the most value from every resource in their arsenal. And being my mother’s daughter, I personally think that makes the most logical sense.

Here are a couple of areas where I see opportunities for our clients to get more value:

Tools & Equipment

Whenever the shiny new cars for the year come out, I think most of us consider – even if for just a moment – “I should trade mine in on that.” Many quickly return to the belief that there is more value to be gained from the car that we have, abandon that idea and then move on with our lives.

Smaller purchases, like phones, don’t always get the same level of pause – as evident in the lines around the Apple store from time to time. But what is the cost of cutting the returns on the old investment short? It may not make or break your household budget – but it could definitely impact things in a corporate budget.

Replacement can seem like an obviously easy answer to the problem of aging equipment. If there’s something newer/better/that will solve this problem then replace it, right? That’s an option – but it essentially leaves money on the table.

However you don’t want to keep tools to the point where the old equipment is costly (constantly down, needing repairs, impacting productivity).

There are often other factors to also consider. Mobile devices offer a good example. Windows Mobile will reach End of Life in 2020. Remaining on an unsupported operating system to extend use is not rare – but it is a gamble. What may further tempt you to stay is that mobile devices are an investment – so that easy fix of just replacing your entire field of tools could be an expensive decision.

Ideally, your business solutions can work with both the old Win Mobile operating system and the new ones (Windows 10, Android). That would allow you to purchase new devices in more of a phased approach – as the older ones die, on a team by team basis, etc.

If your solution doesn’t work in both, migrating to a new business solution first that does (shameless plug here – ours does), could be the best first step in preparing for new equipment.

Being strategic in the when and how of replacing equipment can help you to get more value out of the original equipment – while minimizing disruption to your team, production – and your budget.

Processes

When you start looking at the equipment that is in use – it makes sense to also look at how it is used. When was the last time that you really looked at your processes? Procedures and processes are defined based on environment/resource/production/business factors at a given point in time. Ideally, these are also influenced by forecasted needs and changes in the future.

Just as fitness plans need to be continually adjusted as you get stronger so you continue to improve. Process plans also need regular review to ensure your team is producing optimal – and expanding – results.

I don’t know how many times I’ve gone into client sites and the processes are executed the same way that they have been for the past X number of years. And the reason for doing things that way is usually along the lines of “because we’ve always done it this way.” Or worse, they can’t tell me why.

One of my favorites is when there are long standing workarounds to processes because the original didn’t suit the needs of the team on the floor. This is definitely an indicator that processes need review.

Many reasons are offered for avoiding review of processes: “it takes too long to do a complete review”, “that team will work around anything that you give them”, etc.  Pick an excuse – it will work. But that doesn’t help you to get more value from efforts of your team, does it?

When you’re making any kind of change – new equipment, new software, whatever – it is a great time to ask yourself how things are being done now. What you may find is that you can get more value out of efforts with some tweaks to your processes. You may also find that the feature that was a must-have in the old equipment, or the customization that you’re considering for your business solution isn’t even needed if the team isn’t using it now – or won’t use it in new processes.

Reduce – Reuse – Recycle

It’s sometimes hard to justify taking time to evaluate equipment, uses, plans, etc. when we all have so much on our plates every day. The benefits in doing so and being strategic in our approaches to our investments can have strong results when we look at the impact to the value we get from our tools, the outcomes that we get from our processes and the satisfaction that comes from a team that doesn’t feel like they are continually working around deficiencies in either to meet their goals.

When people talk about being Green – the three Rs are frequently repeated. While what we’re talking about here may be a different kind of Green, those principals still play a role. It really comes down to getting the most value from what we already have – and being careful about what we invest in.

 

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Anne Hale is the Director of Client Services at HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile inventory management, RFID and supply chain solutions. She manages our client engagements, helps with sales and marketing and implements Green principals in her habits, hobbies & projects.

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