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NS aims to 'work smarter' by analyzing, eliminating departmental tasks


Norfolk Southern Railway recently began implementing Activity Value Analysis, an eight-week process designed to analyze tasks completed by departmental employees to help contain general and administrative costs, according to NS' monthly newsletter.

Under the program, a departmental team — led by an NS employee who doesn't work in the department to be studied — conducts a work analysis under which each task performed by each department worker is scrutinized. The team then generates ideas to reduce costs, such as eliminating work that doesn't contribute to NS' bottom line, the railroad said.

Team members decide which ideas are viable, and present recommendations to steering committee members and senior managers, who select ideas to implement.

"This process helps departments deliver the right products and services in the most efficient and effective way by focusing on activities that truly bring value to our customers," said Jim Hixon, NS senior vice president of administration and steering committee chairman. "It also gives departments the ability to reconfigure some work in light of our most recent voluntary severance offer. While the process will produce changes across the company, it is not focused on head counts or working harder -- it's about working smarter "

The steering committee comprises Steve Renken, SVP and chief information officer; Terry Evans, VP of operations planning and budget; Gary Woods, VP of engineering; Don Seale, SVP of merchandise marketing; Mark Manion, VP of transportation services and mechanical; and John Rathbone, SVP and controller.

So far, NS teams have conducted analyses of the human resources, engineering, real estate, casualty claims, labor relations and treasury departments. Teams expect to complete analyses for all departments by year end.