How to Streamline Processes for a Boost in Business Productivity
If you’re like me, you probably conduct dozens of business processes every single day. Manufacturing a product, generating a report, interacting with a client – all these processes can be improved to save employees time and energy. Check out this article for a few tips on how to get started.
Inefficient business processes often lead to frustrated employees, missed deadlines, and unsatisfied clients. Since things move at warp speed in the corporate world, many of these processes are usually developed on an impromptu basis, under the pressure of getting the business up and running. They become standard due to sheer repetition, and executives only later realize that these processes can be optimized to improve workflow and boost productivity.
Processes are necessary within an organization, since they’re designed to ease the way in which supervisors and employees collaborate. When everyone is taking the same well-tested set of steps, mistakes and delays are less likely to occur. Unfortunately, this only applies when the process is effective. If not, your company can face numerous problems, from wasted resources to increased costs.
Streamlining focuses on making changes to simplify ineffective processes and allow workers to become more productive. Here are four best practices for companies looking to boost business productivity.
Two types of business processes can be identified within every organization: formal and informal. Formal processes refer to well-established procedures, usually documented. For example, a company can have a procedure for submitting invoices, approaching new clients, or tracking projects. These processes are especially important when they’re put in place for safety, financial, or legal reasons. Informal processes, on the other hand, are usually generated by employees – for conducting research, reporting, or generating new leads.
Both formal and informal processes are crucial for companies, since they influence employee output and client satisfaction. In order to determine which ones need an upgrade, you’ll need to involve other staffers and managers. Together, you can identify ineffective processes and brainstorm strategies to improve them.
Once you’ve figured out which processes are problematic, detect the root cause of your issues. Break down the process into several small steps and take a close look at every single one. Understand which stages of the process that obstacle arise, where team members or clients get frustrated, and which steps cause delays or increase costs.
Speak to the people involved in the process and enlist their help. Ask for suggestions on how the process could be improved and what resources they need to make that happen. Their ideas may reveal new approaches you haven’t thought of. Write down every suggestion, regardless of the costs – you’ll have time to evaluate that next.
Upgrading a process is not always worth the investment. That’s when it’s time to consider other options. Outsourcing, for instance, can allow your business to increase effectiveness at a lower cost. Outsourcing more menial tasks can free up your employees to focus better on important assignments. To determine if outsourcing is a viable solution, consult this white paper created by Smartexe, a company that provides outsourcing solutions for a wide variety of technical industries and highlights the strategic business benefits associated with the practice.
If the costs are within budget, proceed to securing the resources you need – whether we’re talking about hiring new employees, or purchasing new equipment/software. Involve your shareholders at this stage to explain how the investment will benefit the company in the long run. Make sure your presentation includes a detailed plan of the measures that will be implemented next.
Put Your Plan Into Action
Change isn’t always easy, so make sure everyone is on board before you start tweaking the process. Consider running a pilot first, to deal with any potential issues. Treat this whole endeavor as a project itself, with one single difference: this time, the team isn’t told how to achieve the desired result. As a matter of fact, the end result dictates what the streamlined process should look like.
Once the changes are implemented, measure your results. Did you manage to reduce complexity? Meet client expectations? Increase adaptability? Review periodically, by asking the people involved for updates on how the process is working.
Outdated processes will need constant tweaking if you want your business to stay relevant. New technology, the desire to reach new goals, and client preferences will likely lead you to streamline all processes at one time or another. Promote an open door policy and encourage staff to come to you with suggestion on how to improve workflow. Constant revisions will ensure that your business processes remain efficient.