Three simple sounding steps to fix duplicate work problems

In one study of American workers, employees were found to waste nearly 6 hours per week duplicating others’ work. Duplicate work can come from not receiving information from other people fast enough, not having access to previous employees’ work, or knowledge that is there being difficult to parse.

The result? Inefficiency costs running into the millions. Not to mention stifled innovation, slowed progress and being late to market with new products.

Lucky for you, we know how to fix the duplicate work problem. In three simple sounding steps.


1. Keep everything in the same place

You’re working on a report. You need some financial information. You email Jim in accounting to get the numbers. You wait. A day goes by. You try his extension, but he doesn’t pick up. You wait. Eventually you give up and trawl through the company accounts yourself.

You’ve wasted hours.

What if everything was kept in a centralised repository? Sure, in this case you had access to the accounts, but not to Jim’s analysis, the work he’d already done. That was stuck in an Excel spreadsheet on his own computer.

If Jim’s report had been kept in an easy to find central database, you could have pulled what you needed from his work without having to ask him directly. You needn’t have run the numbers yourself, or wasted time waiting for Jim, and Jim needn’t have used his time to respond to you (had he done so).

And you’re no accountant. Did you even run those numbers right?


2. Maintain a permanent, searchable history

You’ve just got a new job designing vehicles for a car company. Every aspect needs to meet stringent regulatory and internal standards. Naturally, all the previous vehicles have met these standards.

You trawl through your predecessor’s files, for templates you can base your designs on. Her filing system is a mess. You can’t find anything. What you do find, you don’t understand. You give up and start from scratch. Employees take 70% of their knowledge with them when they leave. That’s knowledge their replacement then have to learn for themselves, elongating their on-boarding time as they repeat work that’s already been done time and time again.

What if your new central repository was completely standardised, with detailed, searchable conventions that make everything easy to find? What if design templates and compliance were built into the software itself? Institutional knowledge could be preserved, so newcomers can build on the company’s past, rather than reinventing the wheel.

3. Clearly define processes & workflows

The project deadline is in two days. You’re up against it. You pull 12-hour days to get everything done. The day of the deadline, the team convenes to go over everything before submitting.

Someone else did the same part you did. A week ago.

51% of employees in the American study cited above said that being unaware someone else had already understood or solved the issue was the reason they duplicated work. What if every part of a project fed into clearly defined processes and workflows, so each team member knows what they’re meant to be working on, when.

And what if this system updated in real-time to keep everyone informed of what has been done, what’s currently being done and what still needs to be done? Not only could you stop losing time to unnecessary work, but the project could be progressed further – the team building on each other’s efforts, rather than chasing its tail.


Final thoughts

  • Duplicate work is a huge problem for businesses of all sizes.
  • Small businesses tend to rely on manual processes, with decentralised systems – resulting in data locked on individual hard drives, individual cloud accounts, organised in very individual ways.
  • Large businesses tend to develop data silos, limiting visibility between departments and branches, failing to take advantage of scalability – and costing large sums in duplicated efforts.
  • Find out how PLM can help to eliminate duplicate work, and unleash the rewards of collaboration.

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