A Quantitative Analysis of Office Inefficiency (How to save £250k of time for 20 staff)

18th Nov 2019
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The introduction of computer systems has (for most users) replaced paper-based systems.

Email has revolutionised communications.

The paperless office abounds.

Mobile phones allow real-time service.

E-Signing speeds paperwork.

BUT there are big “black holes” in most systems and valuable time is pouring into them, often without users even realising it.

Note: if you’re too busy, skip to the summary below.

Black Hole #1

Consider the most used software across all companies.

Without a doubt, emails top the list.

Emails have taken over from posted letters, and there’s no going back.

Not only are they cheaper and faster, but they’re also better for the environment because they eliminate paper and printer ink, not to mention stamps, envelopes and wasted time.

However, they create a huge black hole, namely the management of filing.

Before, users would deal with letters, then file them in the client file.

Now, users don’t have time, so emails pile up in inboxes.

With a paper system this didn’t happen because it’s obvious when a physical in-tray is overloaded.

Users didn’t wait until the paperwork reached the ceiling!

Now, many inboxes have thousands of emails piling up endlessly.

With multiple email addresses the problem is worse, because consistency is impossible.

Some users will copy emails to client files, and some won’t. Even if every user was diligent the time taken would be enormous.

As a guide, in a 20-user company if each employee spends just 10 minutes a day dealing with email filing, at £60 per hour the wastage is £7,200 per month (£86,400 p.a.).

The problem is either (a) staff waste time filing emails or (b) there’s no central client-centric view of all email communications.

The time wasted by (a) is easy to quantify but with (b) it is not. Typically, client queries take longer if emails are retrieved by searching or asking other users what’s happening.

Without a system for email filing, you’re guilty of inefficient and haphazard handling of 95% of communications, and you haven’t progressed beyond paper-based methodology.

Black Hole #2

It’s a strange fact that over 20 years ago solicitors were installing “Case Management” software.

The strange part is that solicitors generally do “hit and run” work rather than recurring work e.g. a divorce case doesn’t come along regularly for the same client (with notable exceptions).

Many other organisations handling regular deadlines don’t use this kind of software.

Accountants, who have to administer an endless treadmill of deadlines, usually deal with it manually by checking lists and sending reminders which then have to be repeated until clients eventually supply the information for their self-assessments, year-end accounts, VAT and so on.

Some membership organisations process renewals and send payment requests by hand.

So black hole number 2 is dealing with deadlines manually. For every 100 clients:

Annual accounts = 100 deadlines p.a. not including chasers.

Monthly management accounts = 1,200 deadlines p.a.

Self-assessments that another 100 deadlines.

Quarterly VAT = 400 more and another 100 for Confirmation Statements.

For each type of work the deadlines pile up.

Often, Excel is used to maintain lists, or the list is created from software systems.

For 100 clients around 2,000 deadlines may exist.

Based on a working year of 216 days per employee that’s 9 deadlines every day for each individual.

Assuming a couple of minutes per deadline that’s 18-20 minutes a day. For 20 staff that’s £7,200 per month (£86,400 p.a.) of time.

If administering deadlines is left to each employee dealing with the work, the other issue is consistency of service. It’s impossible for each individual to be as efficient as every other.

When employees are ill or on holiday, somebody else has to help, creating more work.

In a recent survey of 1,000 people 30% of respondents cited deadlines as the biggest cause of stress.

What is surprising is that deadlines scored over even life of another at risk, which stood second at 17%, followed by competitiveness (10.2%) and physical demands (8.4%).

(see https://www.peoplematters.in/article/life-at-work/deadlines-biggest-cause-of-workplace-stress-survey-15195)

So, the black hole arising from deadlines doesn’t just waste time. It affects the mental well-being of many people.

Black Hole #3

The third black hole is time wasted sending communications to clients, prospects and suppliers.

This includes emails, letters and increasingly, text messages.

The problem is that many communications are basically the same messages repeated.

Every email steals a small chunk of time adding to massive wastages over months and years. This invisible inefficiency is rife in most businesses.

Emails take too long to draft and file, if they’re filed at all

A typical procedure for sending an email is: -

  1. Type the email address of the recipient. Outlook displays matching addresses to save typing.

Note: it’s dangerously easy to select the wrong address, which is embarrassing and potentially damaging.

  1. Type the subject.

  2. Type the salutation.

  3. Type the content, or cut & paste content from another email.

  4. Copy the sent email to a folder in Outlook or another system. This involves navigating folders. Some (inefficient) organisations print emails and place them in paper files.

Writing letters is similar, but more involved.

  1. Find the address.

  2. Type the recipient’s name and address.

  3. Type the date.

  4. Type the subject.

  5. Type the content.

  6. SAVE AS a new document, typing the new document name.

Note: Some users amend previous letters to avoid re-typing the name and address. It’s dangerously easy to click SAVE instead of SAVE AS thus destroying the previous letter.

Summary: these manual procedures involve tedious amounts of typing, searching and filing. Users want to get the next email done now, unaware of inefficiencies ingrained over months of repetition.

Time lost with emails is proportional to the volumes so every business is different. However, an example reveals the extent of the damage.

On average emails take 2 or 3 minutes to draft and many take much longer. Replies are quicker because the email address doesn’t need to be typed.

Based on sending 15 and replying to 10 emails per day the time spent is, for example, 30 minutes.

This doesn’t allow for searching for emails. Sometimes minutes are wasted finding just one email. We’ll ignore this inefficiency in our example.

Let’s work out the cost of time based on 30 minutes per day per member of staff.

For 20 staff attending the office an average of 18 days per month, spending 30 minutes a day at the rate of £60 per hour the cost of time spent on emails is 10,800 per month (£129,600 p.a.).

Engagement letters extend the wastage further.

Quote from an accountant:

“We did a quick tot up on engagement letters and we reckoned each one took an unbelievable 40 minutes to produce, check and edit. I would think that we do about 5 a week at least which means we are spending about 20 days a year doing engagement letters and that does. not take account of envelope, postage, printer usage.

At the rate of £60 per hour this adds another £9,600 of time to the total wasted and, of course, nobody likes writing engagement letters.


The three black holes mentioned above waste up to £280k of staff time for a 20 strong firm, and there are many other smaller black holes.

It’s not just about the money. These practices affect other areas in detrimental ways.

  • Client service is inconsistent, and sometime just bad

  • Security is compromised e.g. an email can be deleted, and nobody will know

  • Client files are not up-to-date with emails, or notes of telephone conversations

  • Typing and data transcription errors are more frequent


Using an integrated client-centric system speeds work. It provides a “one place” view of client important data essential for world class service.

The benefits/time saved analysis shows a potential saving of up to 80 minutes per day as shown here:








100% Email Auto-Filing



Action List



Single view of client history



Templates library



Preview of history



Integrated SMS Texts



UK Co. House Integration



Portal with e-Signing



Tel Integration (CTI)



Recents list











20 staff saving one hour a day at £60 per hour is worth £259,200 p.a.

It’s clear that removing black holes impacts on profitability and makes work easier.

Logical Office CRM reduces operating costs and does much more.

Why not book a demo to see how you can banish the black holes of inefficiency from your practice?

You’ll see how to save time, “staff proof” your systems and streamline your busy operation

Contact us by email [email protected]

Tel +44(0)20 7482 7077

Logical Office Ltd

7 Apollo Studios
Charlton Kings Road
Tel +44(0)20 7482 7077
[email protected]