Running a business can be complex and challenging. Not only do you have to deal with the day to day processes involved with the running of a business, but you also have to worry about efficiency and productivity. After all, to remain competitive, a business must improve its efficiency. If you’re starting to feel like your business is on the verge of spiraling into chaos, perhaps it’s time to simplify your workflow and eliminate any unnecessary steps. Here are some steps you can take to start streamlining your business for increased productivity.
Research, Review and Document Current Processes
The first step towards streamlining your business is to identify which of your business processes or workflows are the least beneficial, problematic, or need to be refined. Business processes are basically the steps or tasks you perform on a regular basis to accomplish a particular business goal or task. For example, the steps the accounts payable department takes when receiving, approving and paying an invoice. You need to do this for every single part of your business.
Start by listing all of the processes or workflows that each division or department follows to do their daily work. Look for the steps in each workflow that impact efficiency and productivity. As a business owner or manager, you most likely already have an idea of where to start, but you should also include your employees in your research. After all, they are the ones who carry out the processes. A few things you may want to ask include:
- what are the individual steps taken to complete the process?
- do any of those steps require a disproportionate amount of time or effort?
- which are the steps that are most prone to mistakes and delays?
- what frustrates you the most and what works well?
You should be open to what your employees are telling you, as well as open to any suggestions they may offer.
Use a pen and paper to document all of the different steps that are being followed when completing an existing process. This will help make it easier to see any flaws, issues, unnecessary steps and problems.
Identify the Largest Problems
Your next step is to identify and remove any issues or problems with the process. Pinpoint which things are impacting efficiency and productivity in each stage of the workflow. Ask yourself what is delaying or halting the business process? Keep in mind, these issues can be caused by anything from unclear instructions to outdated equipment.
Make a list of the problems as well.
Improve the Issues
Once you’ve identified the problems within each work process, start doing what you can to reduce those issues. One way to do this, for example, is to use technology to automate certain processes. Today there are all kinds of modern workflow software solutions that are specifically designed to help streamline business processes and workflows.
Here’s an example. You have discovered that handling employee scheduling and requests for paid time off manually is taking up too much time, so you automate it using a good PTO tracking system. This will save a lot of time and free up those employees to focus on other tasks. Plus, when you automate PTO tracking, you are able to keep everything related to employee time off in one handy, organized place, making the entire process easier and quicker — all of which leads to a more streamlined and efficient business process.
Follow Up and Tweak As Needed
Once you have the new processes in place and have explained them to and trained your employees, it’s time to observe how everything is working out. Make a point to speak with your employees after a few days or weeks to get their feedback. Evaluate the new workflow from your point of view as well, and fine-tune whatever parts are necessary. If you see that a new process is not working, try something different.
The entire process of streamlining a business does take time, but it will be worth it in the long run.
How a business works are directly related to its efficiency and productivity. And while increasing productivity is not something that will happen overnight, following the steps above will get you started in the right direction when it comes to streamlining your business and increasing productivity.