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Controlling Resources

Make the most out of your scarcest resources ~ time, people and money.

Management Control

By:    Dr. William R. Osgood

While success can come to any business as an accidental consequence of floundering around reacting to problems as they emerge, the odds do not favor this happening. There are too many factors that must be organized to reasonably expect that the essential coordination will simply occur. Good management helps you to make the most efficient use possible out of your scarcest resources: time, people, and money. Planning the productive use of these assets enables you to get the greatest return for your efforts. Control helps make sure that the plans are working as expected and, if not, provides an opportunity to figure out why and bring about the needed change. The key to successful business management is to determine what needs to be done, who will do it, and how you will know when it's done.

What needs to be done? Functional Task Analysis identifies and describes the different functions or activities that must be performed within the business in order to make sure that all of the operations are performed completely. The result of this process is a list of the various activities and specific tasks needed for your business to function on a day to day basis. It also includes the functions needed for your business to stay tuned to, and respond to change, creatively and proactively.

Large corporations have many top-level officials who are each assigned responsibility for different job functions within the organization. An organizational chart will show these various functional responsibilities through titles such as vice presidents of marketing, production, finance, personnel, planning, and others. Smaller businesses must look at their own operations in a similar way. Someone must perform the same functions as in the larger organization, or the smaller business can not operate effectively. It is essential to identify each of these critical areas. For starters, create your own organizational chart to show all of the same functions represented in a large company, then note beside each how much time it should take on a regular basis. Once the key functional areas are identified, define the related tasks that must be performed to support each activity. One way to efficiently approach this is to make a list of the work tasks presently being performed in the company. This list can be generated from job descriptions and/or from an actual analysis of the workflow process such as through a daily task log analysis. It is far better to use a systematic approach here than an informal one. Relying on your memory will guarantee that you will omit some important activities.

Who will do it?Once you have completed the Functional Task Analysis, it is a matter of associating people with the activities. Careful work in the first part of this exercise will produce a very specific list of tasks that must be performed, along with an estimate of how much time is required to maintain each activity on a regular basis. The next step is to attach the name of some individual to every single one of these tasks. Here it is critical to make sure that you have the right people for the tasks that need to be done; that they thoroughly understand what needs to be done; and are motivated to do it. In most smaller companies, the human resources will make or break the company!

Once the appropriate employees are associated with each element of work from the Functional Task Analysis, the work structure is laid out in a formal manner through a process of Organizational Mapping. The result here is a highly detailed version of the organizational chart, complete with tasks, sub-tasks, time requirements, and individual names.

How will you know if, when, and how well the work is done? As you set up the task assignments, identify the ways that you will clearly be able to determine whether or not they are being accomplished. This is important not only in the general sense of running your business and making sure that things are staying on track, but is critical in delegating responsibilities to your subordinates. At the end of a given project, you and your subordinates must be able to clearly agree about what was or was not accomplished during a given period of time.

The work plan process is the route by which these activities are assigned. The establishment of evaluation criteria is the predetermination of how effectiveness in the various areas will be measured. The more specific these criteria can be, and effectively communicated to each employee, the more accurate will be the behavior within the organization. The information required to monitor these activities can flow to you as a series of deviation reports where the actual results are compared with the projected results.

How to do it. A Functional Time Use Analysis form helps you to determine who is presently doing what in your company, and how long it takes. Once this has been determined, analyze and organize the results using our Organizational Mapping form. Work can then be assigned to specific individuals. First, cover each task with a specific personnel assignment, then total up the time assignments for each individual. You will cover all of the tasks and be able to quickly spot areas where any individual may have been over (or under) committed. Following these activities, the Time Planning Schedule allows you to assign the work to each key employee on a weekly basis and agree with him or her on the feasibility and priority of the various tasks. Through a brief mutual review at the end of the week, you can quickly evaluate what was actually done and plan for the upcoming week. This is a powerful communication as well as management control and monitoring tool.

Organizational Mapping allows you to effectively and efficiently define the tasks within your company, estimate the relative percentage of staff time required by each, and then assign the tasks so defined to specific individuals within the organization. This process will also show where new individuals must be recruited to fill certain job requirements. Don't forget to schedule yourself, but be fair. None of us has infinite time. Even if we choose to work 18 hours per day, after a while we loose our efficiency and so our edge.

Organizational Mapping is always a very interesting and valuable exercise. Good Luck.

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