Friday, November 7, 2008

Military Strategy and Business

What does it get you?

In the two previous posts, we cover the “why” or why does it matter? Why do we really need it? Or is it that we really want it, but can do without? We also covered the “How much does it cost?” factor.

An important factor in deciding whether we can have it or not is as expressed in article number two of this series of three is if we can afford it. If we cannot pay for it without getting behind in other bills, or without putting our financial stability at risk, or without using money that should have gone to pay other bills, or without counting with future income (future income might not arrive), we cannot afford it. It is that simple. And, if we cannot afford it, then, guess what: we will have to wait.

Now, we go into the “What does it get us?” part of our discussion.

When I arrived to the organization I currently work for a few years back, the common wisdom was to pay the print plant for the books that we would use to give to the students of our training program. We also bought two or three boxes of two inches binders, and spent hours poking holes at the books printed so we could place them on the binders, and pass them on. That was a very inefficient use of our time. The rational was, that our organization did not have that much money, so we needed to save. I walked into the print plant and asked how much money were we talking about to have them bind the books, and put a cover to them? They told me about $25 per job. We were spending about $50.00 in binders per job, plus the manpower.From that point on, we quit buying binders, and poking holes, thus saving us money that we redirected toward internal training for our people, and we were able to pass on a professional looking training manual to all our students. It also reduced the last minute stress of preparing the binders, since we now don’t have to.

For the other course that we teach, we used to pass on a manual that we never did cover during the class, and a few handouts. We used to spend about $400.00 in binders, and printing; plus the manpower to put everything together.

I made a master DVD with the manual, a few other regulations, and the flyers that we usually printed and placed inside the binders. Total cost? The cost of a spool of DVD-R, and someone recording them. A lot easier than poking holes on papers and trying to place them in binders, and a lot cheaper.

“What does it get you?” A more professional look? A cheaper product? Think outside the box. I saved my organization thousands of dollars in training materials, and used the money to diversify our people’s training, thus having more prepared and professional employees, improving the quality of training that we provide, and eliminating the stress of hours of boring manual labor.

What does it get you? Remember the previous question? “How much does it cost?” Sometimes, just knowing how much something cost is not enough to make an intelligent decision.
The final output might be the determinant factor in whether you are really saving money or not. Here is a more mundane example:

I criticized my wife for buying every movie that came out! Yeap, you know it, I was wrong… patiently, she explained to me that if we were to take all three children living at home at the time to the movies, that would be about $25.00, plus fuel, plus, pop corn, plus drinks, that would be a grand total of about $50.00 plus the aggravation of three kids arguing with each other. She spends less than $15.00 at Walmart, and the kids can watch the movie at their convenience, by thus actually saving money, and eliminating the aggravation. My wife is a heck of a lot better manager than I am.

You get the point. Sometimes you just need a fresh perspective. Challenge the usual paradigm. If what you are paying for does not produce a more professional output, or at least reduces stress and aggravation, is it worthy?

If you are counting on future revenue in order to get those decorations for your office, will the money not be better used by applying it toward your bills? If you think that by skipping a step or two you are saving money, are you presenting a professional appearance to your customers?

Think about it: Why does it matter? How much does it cost? What does it get us?

Again, think about your previous experiences. Has this article given you new ideas? The way you do business, could you use new ideas? Can you change the way you do certain things in your day to day operations that would save you money, and improve your output? Share your ideas with us…

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Read part one of Military Strategy and Business here.

Read Part two here.

Marketing on Budget.

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