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Few things are as frustrating as completing a task only to realise that someone else has changed something late that you thought was up-to-date. Duplication of work can be caused by inefficiencies in processes, disjointed systems or teams that are not working in parallel to each other. In any industry, this is a waste of time and resources – but it can be avoided with the right measures and tools in place. If you recognise the situation, read on.

In the business of fashion, duplication of work can eat into profit margins, stretch resources to breaking point and cause lengthy, drawn-out decision-making. It can lead to incorrect and inaccurate information and inhibit optimal manufacturing processes and inventory management.

So, how do you remove the redundancy and ensure that there’s minimal duplication, maximum efficiency?

Get rid of a siloed approach

A silo approach is often a leading cause of work duplication within large organisations. When departments work independently of one another, each using their own systems, tools, and references – for example, on their own separate spreadsheet – they may be able to get work done quickly. But if they don’t connect that information with other teams throughout that process, and the disparate teams have no unified approach, this approach often leads to the same information being needlessly entered more than once.

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Any time saved by the quick work of smaller teams is then lost to duplication of work across the business, the need for clarifications, and fixing errors that would not have occurred had all the teams worked as one from the start. A unified approach is the only way to ensure each team is pulling in the same direction, while also making the most effective use of resources.

Especially in an industry like fashion, which needs to get ready for more data sharing (think sustainability, recycling, ESG, PPT and general consumer facing benefits or features that product may have), the ability to have a solid stream of information from supply chain to consumer is becoming inevitable.

Give your product suppliers a direct feed into your business data

Let’s touch on email chains – is there anybody who likes them? They are time-consuming, and crucial information easily gets lost among the replies (often information is even entered in unrelated email topics). In busy inboxes, like those of product developers or buyers, emails are buried amidst dozens of other incoming messages. If anything causes duplication of work, it is something as unconnected as an email string.

Once the response comes, all information is then usually read and manually entered. Or worse, attachments are copied into others or taken as correct without double-checking. There is a significant risk this may be done more than once, by different people, creating the risk of inaccuracies or an outdated version being taken as correct.

Overall, email can be a disjointed and ineffective way to manage intricate supplier relationships, especially during critical periods (like the later stages of development in fashion businesses). Allowing suppliers to feed information, responses, pricing, and results directly into your core processes and having alerts and critical paths integrated with these circumvent the time of the email cycle or duplication of information and effort. This ensures all information is clear and significantly reduces the margin for error.

Only enter once, stop duplication of work

Ultimately, reducing duplication means ensuring everything can only be entered once. You may be surprised to see how many times the same information is entered somewhere in your business. If you follow how information comes in and where it goes from there, you should get a good overview of inefficiencies. Human error must always be taken into account, but the risk of inaccuracy and duplication can be reduced with a single-entry process approach.

These entries will be seen by everyone else, so errors are usually kept to a minimum and won’t exist or hide in one person’s sheet for months before being discovered.

If a process flow requires users to manually enter anything more than once at any point – be it text, code, or cost – then it is only a matter of time before a mistake slips through, or the same information is needlessly duplicated, even if communication between teams is relatively seamless.

Next steps

Review your processes in detail and, if you find data that needs to be entered more than once, fix it accordingly: it will save the company time, resources, and headaches in the future.

Investing in connected best of breed software is the most effective means of ensuring that efforts aren’t duplicated across the business, whilst giving every team the best tool for their own purposes. If you’d like to find out more or need help to review your processes and future needs, we would welcome your request to book a consultation.

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