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Three bottlenecks in the administrative decision-making process

Posted by Paul Neefjes on 22 September, 2016


The decision-making process is often very time-consuming in administrative organizations. This comes partly from the fact that draft decisions cover a long route – from drawing up the draft decision and setting up a meeting, to the meeting itself, to processing the results of the meeting and publishing the documents, to the follow-up on the final decision. So it’s little wonder that hitches so easily occur in this process. In practice, we often see the following bottlenecks in the administrative decision-making process.

Bottleneck 1: the decision-making process is unclear

In an administrative environment, there are many people involved in decision-making. That’s why it’s essential to design the decision-making process well and describe it clearly. Because not all authors of documents are naturally inclined to observe unwritten rules and agreements. If clear agreements are made about the decision-making process and are firmly laid down, everyone knows which rules they should follow.

Bottleneck 2: we never stop discussing

Of course all decisions are preceded by a meeting – you can’t get around that. But these meetings will run a bit more efficiently simply by not discussing things for too long. The Dutch are stars in democratic decision-making but allowing everyone to have their say too often is just not efficient - and certainly not when issues that have already been discussed enter by the backdoor of ‘any other business’ to be chewed over a second time. So what’s the secret to avoiding long meetings? It’s simply to have a well-structured agenda and timing for each item, clear agreements and a chair that keeps strictly to the agenda and monitors the timing.

Bottleneck 3: unclear status

Another reason why administrative decision-making takes so much time is that the documents stay with an employee too long. Only this person is aware of the status at that point and other colleagues can only guess at it or have to track the document down in the organization. This tracking down takes a lot of time. In the worst case, the document even gets lost and the whole process leading up to it can start again.

Avoid bottlenecks

Administrative organizations can avoid a lot of these bottlenecks by digitizing the decision-making process. You can then always see the current status of documents and paper documents are no longer needed. In view of the fact that all relevant documents are available digitally anyway, everyone (with the rights) can work with the meeting documents at any time or place – at the office, at home, in the evening or at the weekend. Do you meet digitally? If you do, employees can decide for themselves when and where they want to go through and initial their documents.

We’ve written a case study on the experiences of the Municipality of Utrecht with digital meeting. If you’re intrigued by their story, you can download it here.

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Topic: Meeting techniques

iBabs is a leader in paperless meetings and enables you to reduce these piles of documents to the thickness of your tablet. Hundreds of organizations have been using this system for more than 15 years.