What is driving business growth today?
Data. Digital transformation. Omni-channel. These are just a few of the buzzwords driving businesses in the digital age.
While data-derived insights and business analytics are undoubtedly a core component for any enterprise, one has to ensure business efficiency to achieve revenue targets and plan business growth.
All these changing dynamics begs the question, “what’s my next plan of action?” Your action plan is to devise business efficiency strategies that will make your organization productive, resilient and agile.
Where Do You Start?
Owners of small and medium-sized businesses don’t enjoy the luxury of big tech spends and large teams as seen in enterprises. Paradoxically, the speed at which growing businesses bleed funds increases dramatically due to inefficiencies. It could just be the lack of the right resources or investing in the wrong technology for which the business isn’t ready yet. One key challenge that hits a growing business hard – Overhead.
Every single change that a business wants to make has a cost associated with it. Despite the consequences, most business owners are inclined to a ‘make do’ attitude. And it usually involves repurposing one or more of the processes and systems even though they may not be ideally suited towards promoting business efficiency.
Sooner rather than later, the misapplication of processes and systems is bound to cause more bottlenecks and challenges. In the long run, it is detrimental to a company’s growth.
So, how can you weave efficiency into business processes and systems? The blueprint for successfully ushering business efficiencies starts with a game plan, being open-minded and flexible.
5 Tips to Increase Business Efficiency
Making your business operations efficient isn’t an overnight task. To get it right, patience, persistence and attention to detail are crucial. Think of your business as a boat and the inefficiencies in the system as leakages. Even the tiniest one can result in the boat sinking. That is a risk not worth taking.
While the goal is to increase efficiencies in the system, there needs to be a focus on building resilience as well. Here are five ways to improve business efficiencies:
Automate Business Processes & Systems
It has been well established that legacy systems and business processes hold companies back. But few business owners actually assess the impact of IT or the lack thereof on the business.
Often, business owners tend to get bogged down as their workforce carries out several repetitive tasks manually. This can negatively impact the bottom line of the business.
The smart way out is to invest in automating repetitive steps, which could be across your sales, production, or distribution processes and systems. An oft-quoted Forrester study predicted that automating business processes can minimize operational costs by a staggering 90%.
Clearly, automation is the first step towards boosting business efficiency.
Business process automation involves developing adaptive systems and orchestrated workflows that can effectively and efficiently add value to the business. The systems should be designed to span across platforms and environments that provide control and enterprise-level visibility.
For instance, adopting a knowledge-centric approach with a smart knowledge base simplifies processes such as customer support, employee training and employee on-boarding.
Such processes require tremendous information and hence demand continuous sharing of relevant data using online collaborative tools.
By capturing, reusing and updating the knowledge base with information like FAQs, important issues and topics, guidelines and company frameworks, you can improve business efficiency.
A core component of implementing this system is to invest in platforms and applications that can increase business efficiency. These can include Organization and Time Management Software, File sharing and Communication Software, Project and Task Management Software, Business Intelligence Software and more.
A Gartner report predicts that 69% of current manual and routine tasks undertaken by managers will be completely automated by 2024. Automation technology not only helps business owners to minimize repetitive tasks but also helps reduce human errors while lowering ongoing processing costs.
Change the Face of Workplace Communication
A majority of the companies do not have any long-term vision or strategy to improve internal communications. When communication breaks down, collaboration suffers. In a nutshell, poor communication is a detriment to employee and business productivity.
Poor communication is often cited as a key reason for workers’ inability to deliver in a timely manner. Missed deadlines and appointments, you will see it all.
Workplace communication is more than just simple conversations. Effective communication in the workplace is a core component of achieving business objectives and goals. It can create the foundation for providing purpose, developing corporate culture, avoiding miscommunication and confusion and delegating accountability.
Moreover, an open and transparent forum helps construct multiple platforms and mediums for constant exchange of data, information, insights and business analytics. Employees share innovative ideas and strategies, both formal and informal, across these omnichannel communication networks. This results in greater job satisfaction which minimizes absenteeism, sick days, and turnover.
A focus on automating repetitive tasks is essential, but just as much is redefining internal communication systems. This is simply because effective communication is vital to getting tasks accomplished on time. The adoption of new-age communication tools and software platforms certainly helps streamline messaging across all verticals within the organization.
Be it face-to-face or online, effective internal communication maximizes connectivity, thus enhancing operational efficiency. Workers automatically put in more effort and use their time wisely that can drive results. This helps the business to realize its full potential.
Encouraging Customer Feedback Can Be a Gamechanger
A Forbes survey showed that 96% of customers will switch brands because of bad service or experience. It’s imperative in today’s digital-first, omnichannel world that you constantly gauge your customer’s interaction with your brand. After all, your products and services aim to meet customer needs, and it is vital to make an effort to provide the best experience possible.
There’s nothing more powerful than customer feedback, and you need to act on it. Else, you are missing out on the opportunity to create any real value addition to your customer and your business.
The value of customer feedback does not end here. Customer feedback on any channel acts as a checkpoint for your business. If you notice that the majority of the feedback that you receive is on a positive note, it shows how you can make the customer experience better. Similarly, if feedback is negative, you know there are several areas that require your immediate attention. In all likelihood, this could include customer service and experience on one or all the channels on which your customers interact with your brand.
There are a number of methods that can help you collect customer feedback across channels. Surveys are typically the most preferred and used option. Depending on what information you want to get from your survey, some of the areas to be covered are:
- Product/Service usage
- Satisfaction scale
- A text box for expressing an opinion
- Possibility of renewed contact
It is vital that you analyze your customer feedback and implement relevant suggestions systematically. Through thorough evaluation and assessment, customer feedback can be turned into positive or negative, actionable or non-actionable outcomes. With this data, you can decide how you wish to implement the feedback over a period of time.
Outsource to Trustworthy Partners
Several factors such as costs, deadlines, product and service quality, and profitability play a key role in establishing business efficiency that can reflect the organization’s potential to attain its commercial milestones. Therefore, it makes sense to drive business performance and revenue by outsourcing processes to professional and trustworthy partners.
Usually, small and growing businesses prefer to outsource accounting, IT, digital marketing and at times even sales to improve business efficiency. This also helps them improve cash flow, a persistent challenge for business owners.
Back-office tasks are frequently outsourced as well. In so doing, workers are allowed to concentrate on core business functions. By not having to handle mundane, repetitive tasks, they can increase efficiency, performance and productivity by focusing their skills on what they do best. This leads to better management and improvement in overall business operations ensuring capital, manpower, and other internal resources are allocated efficiently to core activities.
Moreover, outsourcing non-core tasks to expert service providers results in significant cost savings. Instead of setting up in-house infrastructure and hiring resources to get the job done, business owners can simply outsource these functions to more cost-effective, third-party options.
Outsourcing is not only economical for business owners in the long run, but also provides access to teams with specialized skills in key areas including HR, accounting, data entry, IT services, inventory and supply-chain management.
Another advantage of outsourcing tasks to third-party vendors is enabling client collaboration in a flexible manner. Without geographical restrictions, business owners have the option to hire vendors operating in multiple time zones. This makes scaling up to meet dynamic market requirements much easier while streamlining business operations.
Invest in the Right Employees
Due to the implementation of Business Intelligence Software and data, the recruitment sector is evolving and influencing key business decisions. Automation has become an intelligent recruitment factor that helps in determining the right resources that companies should invest in.
Quantifying business decisions with the help of business analytics is considered to be the most valuable asset within an organization. It is vital to the organization achieving success in the market. Bad hiring decisions, for instance, can cost companies both money and reputation. It could also bring internal discontentment leading to the right people quitting an organization due to conflict. Big data plays a huge role in identifying these issues and analyzing information by taking over the control pads.
A critical part of the decisions relating to business is dependent on analytics due to the competitive advantage that it provides through measuring employee performance. Through a process of collection, analysis of the accumulated data which can be done through employee surveys, it can help in improving the overall business decisions taken for the organization.
The demand for implementing analytics in HR is on the rise. Outcomes have been positive and acceptable, thus helping in strengthening the profile of the organization. The benefits that have been a result of HR analytics are being recognized as a vital accessory in attaining the overall business objectives and goals of the organization.
Act now to improve your business efficiency and see growth
Focusing on these five ways will surely work towards enhancing your business efficiency. Some of these tips are straightforward while others may need a little more time and effort to implement. At the end of the day, what matters is what you aim to get out of this integration.
Once these processes and systems are up and running, allow some time before declaring it a success or a failure. Issues are bound to crop up before and after the processes have been implemented. Constantly review the systems through a process schedule.
- Stage 1: Review with respective teams to find pain points, answer questions and revise and adjust plans as required. This can be done after a couple of weeks.
- Stage 2: Evaluate concerned departments to take suggestions and inputs to maximize performance. This review can be conducted in a month’s time.
These measures can bring in business efficiencies when followed rigorously. As always, business owners need to analyze, recalibrate and implement what really works best for the organization. Once the broken links have been fixed and the operational gaps filled appropriately, it will be easy to attain business efficiency goals. You will also build resilience and agility as business becomes more streamlined leading to success in a not-so-distant future.