Hackett Hacks Away at Recession Declines

Hackett recently published a research piece on how G&A Spending Cuts Can Offset 21% to 45% of the Anticipated Decline in Pre-Tax Profit During Recession as part of their Enterprise Strategy Series which noted that their 2008 benchmark data reveals a savings of 184 – 400 Million for a typical global 1000 company that’s worth a re-read. Unlike most of their pieces, this was available to the public (registration required), and, if it’s still available, you should definitely download it – as it is jam-packed with more information than a single blog post can cover.

The piece starts off that by noting that while mandated G&A cuts are the norm in times of recession, arbitrarily cutting costs across the board can lead to serious deterioration in service-delivery capacity. It’s critical that cuts are made in ways that minimize impact on business value delivery, but this requires an understanding of the strategic alternatives, current cost structures (as compared to those of world-class organizations), and clear-eyed risk assessments. Furthermore, Hackett found that average companies can reduce G&A cost between 15% and 41% simply by optimizing process cost. Furthermore, reduced technology spend can take out another 6% to 7%.

The research brief also points out that you should not determine a savings target before understanding what a “normal” spend level is in a world class organization. For example, a typical Global 1000 company (with 23.4B in revenue and 56,100 employees) spends 3.6% of its revenues on four core principle G&A functions (Finance, HR, IT, & Procurement), but world-class companies execute significantly better by combining process excellence with technology leverage. They perform at lower cost levels (22%+) and enable the business to succeed by producing improved financial results and cash-flow; by recruiting, training, and retaining talent; by driving costs out of the supply chain; and by making superior use of technology.

The research brief also identified 10 targets for G&A reduction across the four core functions that, when combined, should allow for a cost reduction of at least $158M in a typical Fortune 1000 company in process costs alone (labor and outsourcing) that can be achieved by way of best practices, simplification, and standardization. Specifically, the 10 functions, and potential cost savings were:

  • Infrastructure Management : 25.1
  • Revenue Cycle : 22.7
  • Application Maintenance : 21.6
  • General Accounting : 17.9
  • Application Development & Implementation : 15.8
  • Compliance Management : 13.4
  • End-User Support : 12.7
  • Transactional HR : 11.7
  • General Disbursement : 10.6
  • Purchase Order Processing : 6.4

The research brief identified a cost difference of 55.6 Million in technology spend between average and world-class organizations.

Hackett also identified another 74.9 Million in cost savings that may be available through globalization (and outsourcing).

So how do you start identifying these cost savings? You start by reading the research brief and focussing on the specifics in the identified areas. You also apply the expertise the doctor and his fellow bloggers have imparted to you over the years while noting that most of the savings opportunities are in technology (75.2), finance (51.2), and procurement (19.8). If you have been paying attention, this should screen one acronym to you: SaaS. If you’re currently using bloated behind-the-firewall software, switching to SaaS will simultaneously reduce your infrastructure (the largest), application maintenance (the third largest), application implementation (the fifth largest), and end-user support (the seventh largest) costs. Plus, if it’s e-Sourcing or e-Procurement, you’ll also reduce your revenue cycle (the second largest), compliance management (sixth largest), general disbursement (ninth largest), and purchase order processing (tenth largest) costs. That’s eight cost reductions with one decision! How can you go wrong?