Streamlining is the new buzzword in business, and is the process of eliminating or simplifying work-related tasks. The aim of it is to increase efficiency within organizations. But how do you know if these modern techniques and the technology associated with them will benefit your business?
A simplified process will always help but it needs to be done correctly. Read on as we give our tips on implementing a streamlined business.
1. Do an Assessment of Business Processes
Before you begin, you need a full examination of your business processes. A process is defined as any repeatable activity that needs to be achieved in order to attain your goal. These can be as varied as the stages of manufacture in a factory, to the process of lead generation in an office.
When checking them, make sure you do it on the level of your employees. An overview can fail to show bottlenecks and problems in the system. The devil is in the detail, so speak with the people who are actively involved.
Map the process out section by section. You can jot it down on old-fashioned pen and paper, then transfer it to a digital file if it needs to be shared later. Speak to the people who work with each stage and note down any problems they encounter or ideas they have.
2. Problems First, Technology Second
When you sit down with a team to discuss business workflows, it can be very easy for it to descend into conversations about new technology. Tech and automation can revolutionize your business but need doing properly. It is easy to fall into a trap of getting the technology then seeing how it can fit into the business.
More efficient is the method of identifying your major problems, then seeing what technology can solve them. In this way, you are only paying for something that will benefit your business processes. Budgets won’t need to stretch to accommodate technology that is not fit for purpose.
3. Look For Ready-Made Solutions
While bespoke solutions sound fantastic, they will cost. No matter how unique you think your organization is, someone will have had the problem before. That means a solution already exists.
Many workflow automation solutions even have preloaded app libraries. These allow for further customization, tailoring out-of-the-box solutions to your needs.
Another factor to consider before you look at automation is to hire a third party and outsource. These companies will often have the software and tools you need while taking the labor off your hands. Everything from a computer maintenance company to payroll and accountancy companies can help.
4. Think of the Future
We all know that business moves fast. Creating a simplified process won’t just happen overnight, and will take time and effort to implement. So what happens when you are just about to reach your goals, and the goalposts change?
To avoid this, always account for growth. Even if you don’t plan to expand in the near future, how would your business cope with a sudden surge in custom? Could you handle the extra strain?
One way to do this is to look at what you might do should these events happen, and plan how you will streamline the processes in advance. You may wish to set up a person in your organization in charge of streamlining and efficiency.
Only when you have addressed the previous issues should you begin to automate. There will be a number of tasks in your business that are boring, time-consuming, and can be done easily with automation. Data entry, reminders, and preparing invoices are just a few.
Another problem with many of these tasks is that they don’t actually improve your profit or lead generation. They are just processes that need to be done. Tools to do these for you will cut down your workload, allowing you to reassign staff members to tasks that will let you make money.
Tools that you can use are vast. From robotic processes in industry, to CRM management tools in sales, shop around and see what is available. Always go back to our previous point about not getting carried away, and find the automation tools that suit your needs.
6. Analyze the Outcome
Even when you think streamlining your business is complete, you will still be able to improve. To know how far you have come and to make changes in the future, make sure you get the metrics of your current processes. Once you have streamlined it, you can check them again and see where improvements have been made.
In turn, this will let you improve even more. Some areas may not have changed at all. Others may have performed better than expected.
One area to look at is the expenditure on automating given areas. It may be that the return on investment is low and automating a process just does not justify the cost.
Also, keep a check on the human aspect of automation. If this has led to fewer staff members, or people have been forced into roles they are not suited for, morale may suffer.
Implementing a Streamlined Business
Starting these streamlined business tips won’t be done overnight. In many cases, it can take over a year to do this correctly. Make sure you plan wisely, consult with existing staff and customers and look at your data and metrics.
If you found this article informative, we have many more to help. From business advice to finance, we can help grow your organization and maximize profit in the coming year.