Right-sizing Support Functions Part I

When it comes to cutting costs, support functions often get overlooked. Their inefficiencies are not simply “lying around on the shop floor,” for everyone to see, says Reinhard Messenboeck, a partner and managing director with the Boston Consulting Group. And while support functions often are viewed as ancillary, they actually reside “close to the decision makers.” A board typically controls an organization through support functions such as HR, finance and the budget process. They are “the brain and nervous system of an organization.”

In this two-part Knowledge@Wharton interview, Messenboeck provides a wide-ranging look at where support functions typically stumble — by building unnecessary layers of management or controls, or by losing sight of key goals. Typical savings that can be wrung out of support programs — with the right approach — often reach 25% to 30%.

Part I looks at how inefficiencies crop up in support functions within organizations: “No one creates inefficiencies on purpose. These things grow over time.”

View Right-sizing Support Functions Part II

Citing Knowledge@Wharton


For Personal use:

Please use the following citations to quote for personal use:


"Right-sizing Support Functions Part I." Knowledge@Wharton. The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 24 September, 2014. Web. 27 September, 2020 <>


Right-sizing Support Functions Part I. Knowledge@Wharton (2014, September 24). Retrieved from


"Right-sizing Support Functions Part I" Knowledge@Wharton, September 24, 2014,
accessed September 27, 2020.

For Educational/Business use:

Please contact us for repurposing articles, podcasts, or videos using our content licensing contact form.