While teaching Better Business Writing at a world-class Pacific Northwest business yesterday, I heard a story of an equipment inventory that made me shudder.
At this business of 4000+ people, an inventory request goes out each year. A blank sheet goes to each department annually, and on it, each department is to list its computer equipment and other electronic equipment, with serial numbers.
A blank sheet. A blank sheet that has to be filled in each year. Each year employees go through their shops and offices, rerecording the serial numbers of their equipment.
Why can’t this inventory be saved? Why can’t departments receive a copy of their previous year’s inventory, along with the request that they add, delete, and correct any entries?
While I usually write about business writing–not equipment inventories–the baffling inefficiency of this inventory communication made me want to shout "Stop it! Stop wasting all that time and effort!" After all, in my small office alone, inventorying our equipment would take an hour. Yet editing last year’s list of equipment would take just minutes.
Yes, each department could save its inventory before sending it on, but that would require an effort from each department. I want whoever is requesting the inventories (and who no doubt saves them) to send the old inventories back each year with the new inventory requests.
Yes, this inventory can be saved, and with it valuable time and effort.
Now I’m thinking about how I could work more efficiently. Maybe there is something I could be saving instead of recreating each year. How about you?