Recessions are a great time to think about Business Process Improvement! In any case, you are already trying to cut costs, and you might as well take on larger efforts in cutting waste out of business processes. Of course, you can throw all kinds of new technologies like Document Management, Workflow, Document Digitization, etc but all of them cost a lot of money!
The real challenge here now is to actually squeeze the other inefficiencies out; those that require creativity, and innovative thinking, rather than expensive technology. Recessions offer this unique opportunity to take on projects that would in normal and prosperous times, the temptation may be to throw more money at it!
Toyota Keeps Idled Workers Busy Honing Their Skills is an interesting article about how Toyota keeps its idled workers in training classes to teach them more about the Toyota Production System and also on specific improvement projects.
The economic tough times set so many constraints on expenditure of money that process improvement efforts may have to concentrate on those ideas that require little, or no money. This is not necessarily a bad idea since most reduction of waste involves unncessary waits and waste of time, unnecessary movement of people and paper, etc. These require observation and insight into how the business process moves forward or not, rather than any revolutionary thought. These are the ones that will bear the most fruit also!
Efficiency is doing better what is already being done. – Peter F. Drucker