Are You Using Your Human Resources Wisely? The Cost of In-House Fulfillment

Published by Dan Loomis | Topics: Online Publishing

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Meet Sharon.

Sharon earned a 3.65 GPA in college where she received a degree in marketing. After graduation, she started at a mid-sized association, and now she’s been the director of marketing for five years. Sharon knows her association’s members better than anyone on staff and is an expert in getting them excited about the association’s workshops and seminars. She’s a very valuable member of the staff.

And how does Sharon spend her time these days?  Because her association has a local printer ship the workbooks to their office, Sharon spends several hours a week fulfilling inventory and shipping out boxes when members order publications.

Now, if you’re Sharon’s boss, what makes more sense?

  1. Letting Sharon focus on what she does best – marketing the association and pleasing the members.
  2. Asking Sharon to continue packing boxes.

It may sound like a silly question, but in reality, we see many associations that choose to use some of their best human resources on inventory and fulfillment. The truth is that outsourcing this process is more efficient and cost effective than doing it in-house.

To be sure, associations have had to cut back during the recession. Some associations say they’re at least keeping staff busy with these menial tasks. We hear them say they have to do more with less, so busy staffers are juggling more and more responsibilities. But there comes a time when an association has to let people like Sharon do what they do best and let a more efficient method do the repetitive work.

Any use of human resources (or use of your office for storage) for this in-house process costs extra money. Even if Sharon were an intern, someone has to supervise her work. Also, accounting or IT may need to be involved to create reports to track sales and order history, which are essential to managing costs and determining your next publications’ run length (rather than the shot-in-the-dark guess of how many more books are needed). Not to mention your office looks like mini-warehouse.

Some associations are a little wary of outsourcing, so it’s important to choose vendors you trust and who have a reputable history of fulfilling promises. But choosing to outsource your inventory and fulfillment will most likely lead to better cost efficiency and processes (see our post Four Warning Signs that Your “White Space” May Be Costing You Money on eliminating white space).

Our Sharon is purely hypothetical, of course – but I bet your organization has a Sharon of your own. What can you outsource to keep your Sharon focused on the tasks she does the best?

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About Dan Loomis

When Dan Loomis took over as a Product Director, he aspired to be like his new role model… Santa Claus. “There’s no one more skilled in fulfillment than Kris Kringle,” Dan more

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July 26th, 2010Beth Ziesenis says:

Oh, yeah — I know Sharon. And I know a bunch of people who have a bunch of Sharons on staff. I know it’s tough for leadership to do a cost-benefit analysis of the best use of staff time when the budget is tight, but sometimes they can accidentally waste precious resources on jobs that can be done by anyone.

PS — Is Sharon available? I have a bunch of envelopes that need stuffing. 🙂
Beth Ziesenis recently posted..Doodle- Find a time to meet in a flash

Twitter: AvenueZ


July 26th, 2010Dan Loomis says:

Beth you hit the nail on the head…”accidentally waste precious resources”. Leadership could consider a basic cost-benefit analysis like this…What if an organization spent only 8 hrs/month using Sharon to fulfill orders? That’s only 2 hrs/week. At first glance it doesn’t even seem like an issue that should be addressed. But what if you looked at that from an annual basis. That’s 96 hrs/yr. What if in that same amount of time, Sharon could spend time marketing, and grow membership or attendance by a very small percentage? Say .05%. You’ll have to do the math for your organization or event, but depending on the event size, that could be a very significant amount of revenue. Sounds like another blog topic. Anyone interested in further exploring the topic of cost-benefit analysis?

Twitter: Dloomis1


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