Every year, a large percentage of total company expenditures are invested in meetings. Authority to make these investments is typically afforded to every person in the company with few or no means for senior management to track the investments or to control the expense. The innovators suggest making changes to our meeting booking systems such that:
- Cost of meeting and/or meeting series is clearly visible to person booking the meeting,
- Total cost of all meetings can be automatically aggregated and reported to staff with budget
Employees regularly call meetings with unclear purpose and with more participants than is absolutely necessary. Aggregated over thousands of employees and many years this represents waste of tens of millions of dollars per year for a company of Teledyne FLIR’s size. By automatically calculating the cost of the meeting at the point where it is created we incentivize employees to reduce to minimum amount of attendees, meeting length, frequency of reoccurrence, and total number of meetings in a meeting series. This should result in very tangible efficiency gains of our company or for any other company implementing this. By automatically aggregating the total cost and reporting it at a regular cadence to those with budget responsibility the size of the investment in meetings can be monitored and possibly controlled in a continuous improvement project.
In our tool for booking meetings (typically MS Outlook) we will add a macro that automatically calculates the cost of the meeting prior to booking it. This can be done simply by just assuming a standard rate of for example $100/h/person or it can be more elaborate and use actual rates for different sites. CostPerMeeting = NrOfPersons x RatePerHour x NrOfHours. We will also calculate a cost per year which is CostPerMeeting x OccurancesPerYear. We can also offer guidelines for what meeting costs are reasonable based on business criticality of meeting. We can add a multiplier based on cost of context switching from employees whose primary function is “deep work” such as engineering or other functions that requires concentration and has long start up times after an interruption. We can also add meeting free times and for example double cost of planning a meeting in these time slots. The total cost of meetings will be aggregated automatically directly in the tools or through a piece of SW that crawls
through all meetings avoiding counting duplicate instances. This will provide the various organizations a view of the meeting investment size per any desired time period. We could also automatically require manager approval for any meeting costing more than for example $2k/instance and/or $20k in aggregate. The tool can also warn user or even prevent booking meetings costing over a certain dollar amount if there is not a clear agenda. A post meeting 10s survey can also prompt participants to assign a value of meeting to them such that a cost/value ratio can be calculated.
The tool can also provide tracking for management to review which employees consistently book expensive meetings and allow manager to evaluate whether or not these meetings are valuable. People who consistently over-invite could be asked to optimize their invite list, hence freeing up employees from non value-add meetings.
By Nicholas Hogasten & Kai Moncino
Teledyne FLIR, LLC. Goleta, California