Don’t miss the current issue of Fast Company magazine, which features a look at a fascinating new program at Pfizer. It seems that in the wake of the company’s deep layoffs, Jordan Cohen, senior director of organizational effectiveness, started looking at what executives were doing and discovered that lots of it consisted of menial tasksâ€”researching, creating documents, working with PowerPoint, and the like.
That didn’t seem like a good use of senior people, so Cohen set out to see whether the work could be outsourced. He settled on a couple of Indian service companies. The system looks fairly simple. An exec who needs some work done clicks a button in Microsoft Outlook; there’s a brief exchange over the scope of the job and the cost, and the work gets done. The results, according to the article, are unexpected:
It’s not a time-saver in the sense that employees can knock off at 2:30 p.m. Instead, people do more in a set period. “Rather than spending six months analyzing a segment to understand whether it’s a market opportunity,” says Nancy Steele, executive director of new business development, “we spend closer to three months.” She recently OOFed [the slang for using the Office of the Future feature] a four-week research project on the blood-substitute market, which would have bogged her down for months.
The financial benefits are also impressive. “When questions come in, like who are the key players in the stem-cell market, often I would hire external consultants,” says Kristin Peck, head of worldwide strategic planning. “OOF does the same work for me at one-tenth the cost. It’s sort of mini-internal consulting, for very specific questions.” For OOF services, Pfizer pays $15 to $35 per worker hour, far less than they’d pay the McKinseys of the world, whose rates typically start at $215 per hour.
Also in the issue, a look at Abbott’s new absorbable stent.