Feb 9 2009

Desperately Seeking an Owner for "Other"

Desperately Seeking an Owner for “Other”

A couple weeks ago in Living with Less…For Good, I mentioned that we’re on a crusade against extraneous expenses at Return Path these days, as is pretty much the rest of the world.

After a close review of our most recent month’s financials, we have a new target:  “Other.”  A relatively inconspicuous line on the income statement, this line, which different companies call different things such as “Other G&A” and “General Office,” is inherently problematic NOT because it inherently encompasses a huge amount of expenses, although it might, but rather because it inherently doesn’t have an owner and rarely has a budget.

As we dug into the gory details of “Other” our accounting system (btw – we LOVE Intacct – great web-based application for better information flow and transparency), our Exec team came to this realization the other day.  It’s not that we buy too many pens, per se.  It’s that the absence of someone being in charge of that line item means that no one manages it to a budget – or even just manages it to some kind of reasonability test.  What we found in the details was that there are definitely more areas we can do better at managing expenses here.  No individual item is going to change our income statement profile, but little things do add up to big things in the end.

Whether it’s duplication of expenses, too much FedEx, forgotten recurring items, or the storage locker that we don’t even know what’s in any more, we’re spotting little ways to save money left and right.

For us going forward, we are going to put someone in charge of this line item, develop a budget, and without forcing big-company-like procurement policies on the rest of the organization, manage it down!