This week we learned about Service Productivity. It reminded me of one of the Finance Retreats at my last internship with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). The CHA provides a service to the residents of public housing and section 8 voucher holders. The retreats were led by the CFO, and designed as a way for finance staff members to leave the office building, meet at a central location for the purpose of doing team building exercises and brainstorming as a group on how to be more productive around the office. This productivity included saving the company money, how to work cross-departmental cohesively, and how to bring extra revenue into the company. One of the reasons it is so important to conserve money at the CHA, is because they are one of the few housing authorities across the country who are given money by The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use where they need it, for things such as resident programs. Other housing authorities are told by HUD where they must spend the money.
We came up with the following solutions:
Saving the CHA money
- We had several unused industrial sized printers sitting in the hallway. We decided to sell them and use the money to purchase new ones.
- Instead of each group within Finance (budget, financial reporting, treasury etc.) ordering their own supplies, one person would be responsible for ordering supplies. This would cut down on extra unused supplies and double ordering.
Working cross-departmental cohesively
- We determined that employees in one area of finance may not be respecting due dates, which would cause another area to be late submitting reports, in turn lowering productivity. For example, financial reporting may depend on certain numbers from Accounts Payable (AP) within a given time frame. If they don’t receive those numbers, they cannot complete their reports.
Bringing in additional revenue
- The CHA is one of the largest housing authorities (HA) in the country. We decided to use our staff as consultants to advise smaller housing authorities on various issues.
Productivity is defined as the ratio of outputs (in this case service) divided by the inputs (labor and capital). In these three cases, the CHA is using its employees as input and the output is the savings of money and employee time, as well as revenue generated which translates into money that can be used to further service the residents.
What are some ways you have improved service productivity at your company?