All ambitious entrepreneurs strive for an organization that is streamlined, productive and efficient. We want our staff to be happy and engaged, and we want our customers and clients to be overjoyed with the results we offer. However, though we might strive for perfection, every company on this planet is guilty of some form of inefficiency, and yours might be holding you back and costing you dearly.
The problem with inefficiencies within an organization
Your weak areas may already be clear. You might notice that valuable and highly-paid employees are spending an inordinate amount of time filling out reports, arranging meetings, or organizing their paperwork. When you add all this time together, you might be surprised, and more than a little bit aggrieved, at the time you are wasting. After all, in this highly-competitive world, smooth and efficient processes are essential when it comes to maintaining advantage.
Inefficiencies can result in exasperated staff, breaches in compliance, missed deadlines and lost or misplaced paperwork. This inevitably leads to decreased company growth and increased costs. In fact, the Pareto Principle, which can be applied in a number of ways, suggests that 80% of your company’s negative results are due to 20% of your inefficiencies.
On top of this, it has been reported that inefficient processes may be costing companies up to 30% of their yearly revenue. Once you identify and resolve these inefficiencies, you are guaranteed to see a significant improvement in your organization’s productivity.
Warning signs that your business has inefficiencies
When pinpointing procedural inefficiencies within your organization, there are certain areas that demand your focus.
Determine whether your employees are spending too much time on manual processes. When certain tasks are performed manually they are inevitably much slower than they would be if software was utilized. You run the risk of work being replicated and errors being made.
Take the time to observe your current processes and communicate with your team to discover which processes are the most time consuming. This will also highlight which processes are the most problematic, thereby allowing you to streamline the processes and work toward making them more intuitive.
Processes should never be more complicated than they need to be. Investigate and determine which ones are needlessly complex or confusing. Employees will be more than happy to voice their opinions on this matter. Complicated (and boring) procedures inevitably lead to errors, and they demand more time than simple, streamlined processes.
One red flag indicating inefficient processes presents itself when staff are struggling to find information. Important data and documents should be easily and promptly recalled using software. When employees are wading through piles of paperwork and they are complaining about a lack of organization or compliance, this is a sure warning sign that inefficiencies are causing problems within your organization.
How to identify inefficiencies
As mentioned previously, when you’re looking to identify notable inefficiencies within your organization, your employees are your best source of information. These are the people who work in the office every single day and are aware of exactly how much time and effort is spent in each area. They are a fountain of knowledge when it comes to which processes cause the most stress or produce the most errors.
Take the time to call frequent meetings in order to brainstorm, exchange concerns and promote a healthy exchange of ideas. Your employees will soon become used to this level of communication and will then be more inclined to voice their opinions. On top of this, it can be useful to review customer or client complaints in these sessions. This will provide an entirely different viewpoint on what processes are worth overhauling.
From a technical standpoint, a great way of determining how efficient a process is involves utilizing software to time and track certain tasks. This will not only give an indication as to how long processes take and how you can streamline them, it also adds a degree of accountability. If errors are made, they can be drawn back to a particular employee, who may require training.
On the other hand, if this employee is constantly making errors in all aspects of their job, it is clear that they themselves might be a part of your company’s inefficiencies.
Remember that the act of assessing your processes is not, and should not be, a one-off incident. Continually readdress and readjust depending on your company’s needs. As an organization, you will grow and expand, meaning that the processes that work for you currently will not necessarily be appropriate in a year’s time. Encourage a flexible working environment, so your employees are able to welcome and adapt to new changes when they are introduced.
Use software to resolve work process inefficiencies
With the technology and software at our disposal today, it is possible to make tedious, day-to-day tasks more efficient in no time. This is when your organization should consider Business Process Automation (BPA), a type of systemized software that is designed to streamline and facilitate complex tasks, thereby saving companies time and money while boosting productivity.
Specialized software is no longer the domain of large conglomerates. It can just as easily assist SMEs, especially when it comes to the management and tracking of key information. It does this by centrally storing data, making it secure and accessible for authorized users. Using software rather than paper-based systems means that data can be recalled at the press of a button and a number of people, over multiple departments, can utilize and edit the same document at the same time. This saves time when it comes to printing out and sending important information.
On top of this, software can also be used in relation to document creation and distribution. Appropriately selected software, suitable to your business needs, has the capacity to automatically generate spreadsheets and reports using data extracted from your company’s database, saving you significant time and effort. In fact, it can help with routine administrative tasks, such as appointment reminders and automatic letter and email generation.
Once you discover the processes within your organization and you have made the decision to invest in software for the benefit of your business, it is important to carefully consider which software provider is right for you. Pick one that is specialized to your industry and ensure that the team providing this software is agreeable and able to customize the core software to fit your particular business needs. Detail your current inefficiencies to ensure optimal results.
Author: Yaakov Smith, a first class honors graduate of Oxford University, has almost twenty years’ experience developing and designing software. He is the CEO of Logican Solutions, a UK-based business management software company that serves to streamline processes and increase productivity. They offer a range of products, including solutions for claims management, debt management and property portfolio management.