Efficiency is a common goal for businesses. Companies want their employees to work more better, their systems to work more orderly, and even their utilities to be used more efficiently. If you want your own business to be more productive, then use this guide to help you get started:
Benefits of Making Your Business More Efficient
There are so many benefits to making your business more efficient.
Reduced Operating Costs
The biggest benefit is that it reduces your operating costs. You may be able to get work done with fewer employees, or you may be able to save on utility costs by minimizing downtime. There are so many ways that making your business more efficient can help you save money and, as a result, increase your profit margin.
You won’t just see an increase in profits due to reduced overhead costs, but you can also see an increase in revenue. You may find unique ways to earn money from your waste, for example, or your efforts at making employee workflows more efficient increase their productivity.
A more efficient business is one that is constantly innovating and ready to respond to customers’ needs. That is why, when done correctly, improving your organization’s efficiency can actually boost customer engagement (which, in turn, can result in increased spending).
When employees aren’t bogged down with bad management and unnecessarily annoying admin tasks and instead are given the structure they need to focus on the work, you have a winning combination. Just because employees find the work easy doesn’t even mean that they’re not doing enough. It simply means you’ve streamlined their workflow to the point where they can quickly and effectively do their tasks with less hassle. Hassle, more often than not, comes with dealing with broken systems and ineffective management.
When your business is efficient, it gives employees the space to do their jobs. Yes, some employees may take advantage of this to slack off or not perform well. These aren’t employees you want anyway. You want a team that can work independently and efficiently and will thrive in an environment designed for their success.
How to Make Your Business More Efficient
There are multiple methods available that can help your business run more efficiently:
Audit Your Company
The first step to making any improvement is to first understand the issues. If you aren’t comfortable with carrying out an audit, bring in an expert who can do it for you. In fact, a third-party specialist who can comb through your system and help identify the pressure points in your company is the best way to do this since they’ll be objective.
When they’re done, they’ll likely have a list of issues for you to fix or improve upon. How you tackle this list is up to you, but it is important not to take on too much at once. Your business still needs to run while you make the changes, so try to stick to one to three issues at a time so you can fix them as fast as possible.
Invest in Automation Tools
Automation is an essential tool if you want to improve your efficiency, and it’s not just an option available to manufacturing companies. You can automate almost any business, including small businesses. How? You have computers to tackle administrative tasks.
In HR, you can have employees automatically update personal information instead of having to reach out and do this manually. You can have payroll automated so that everyone gets paid on time. You can have an inventory system that is set to automatically reorder stock if it drops below a certain amount.
These automation systems are very simple but effective. They run on an If This, Then That program script, which is exactly what it sounds like. If a certain thing happens, for example, inventory drops below your predefined quantity, then it will automatically send out an order for more (a number you have set in advance).
For a system to automate these administrative tasks, it needs to be able to communicate with itself. This means you can’t have software programs that don’t know how to exchange information. You’ll need an overarching system that connects to all the various tools your company uses.
With the popularity of cloud-based tools, enterprise-type systems like this are becoming more accessible. You don’t have to have a large enterprise-sized company to use them and instead will only pay for the amount of data you use. That’s why automation is now available even to small businesses.
Use a Project Management System
Managing a team will boil down to your own individual leadership style. Though there are merits for all styles, one thing you will want to work on is the balance between micromanaging and keeping everyone on pace and meeting the quality standards you have set for them.
Micromanaging is rarely an effective management style. You need to trust your employees to do the job to your satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that you don’t keep an eye on their progress or avoid quality-checking their work, but it does mean you have to stop hovering.
Every email or check-in about their progress takes time, and it can also disrupt their flow. Rather than do this in-person, it’s better to invest in a project manager that will let your employees update where they’re at on their tasks either in real-time (meaning the system logs what they’re doing and updates their status on their behalf) or at the end of the day. Regardless of which system works for your team, a project manager can help you stay updated without that unnecessary hovering that can do more harm than good.
You’ll also want to switch to cloud-based systems that allow for seamless collaboration. One of the biggest time wasters is to send files back and forth. Not only do employees need to wait to get the document back, but they also then need to go through it to see what the other person changed. Being able to work on it collaboratively together and also add notes with timestamps lets your team work fluidly together with minimal hiccups.
The best part of these types of systems is that they can actually be used to help improve your customer service as well since you can give them live updates on their order or even on the status of the service they hired.
Use Data to Your Advantage
The world is full of data. There is, in fact, more data than is possible to use and understand. It is for this reason that there’s an entire field known as Big Data. This includes behavior, search information, shopping figures, and even produced content. Human beings are not designed to look at a large dataset and then extract information from it. In order to glean meaning and make smart decisions, people just need to sort through the information and then analyze it.
Every business needs to use data in order to improve. Without using data, you’re ultimately just guessing. While you can, of course, hire a data analyst on your team, it’s almost always better to have at least a minor background in data analytics yourself. At the end of the day, your business is yours. You are the visionary, even if you bring others in to help you develop your idea.
For most new businesses, bringing in an expert in data analytics is simply too expensive. That’s why it’s better for business owners to get down and dirty and learn the tricks of the trade themselves. The good news is that it’s easy to get started, thanks to the arrival of online degrees.
Earning an online degree means being able to choose the best program regardless of where you’re located. You’ll also be able to put what you learn to use immediately, so you can see the value of your degree and get help with your real-world issues from the faculty.
Plus, you don’t have to stop at the bachelor’s degree level; continuing education has never been easier to access in this day and age, enabling you to push your qualifications and knowledge even higher after you’ve completed your degree. There are master’s degrees available that are open to those from any background, including an online masters in business analytics, which you can learn more about here.
A master’s degree like this knows its students don’t have a background in statistics. It instead prepares you by establishing an effective foundation in programming, data analysis, and even statistics for those without a relevant background. This way, anyone can learn how to collect, sort, analyze, and maintain datasets.
Being able to conduct your own analysis of your company’s data is essential to creating an effective business model and any business strategy, especially when you want to make a change.
Data analysis can help you reduce your operating costs and increase profits. It can help you understand what products, services, or marketing strategies work the best and even why. Taking information and extracting meaning is the best way to move your company forward and make it more efficient, and if the owner and leader of a company and organization is capable of doing that in-house, you’ll have an evergreen resource at your disposal that will help your company each day moving forward.
Reduce Utilities Costs
Utility costs are a blind spot in many companies. This is a mistake. Energy prices are rising for a reason, and they aren’t going to stop any time soon. Even if they were stabilized, letting your company use more energy than necessary is nothing more than a waste.
There are so many easy ways to reduce your energy costs as well. Start first by investigating your system. While using the same tools and products is good for the overall emissions, the running costs may keep adding up. Know when to upgradeand when to use other energy-saving tactics like a smart system or simply having employees turn off their computers and systems when they leave.
Reducing energy costs is going to be most important for energy-intensive businesses, like those that manage large server rooms or manufacture items. Keep your machinery in optimum conditions, and consider investing in circular technology (recapturing water, for example, if you have a server room) so that you can minimize the amount of energy your business generates. It’s great for the environment and to reduce your overhead.
You won’t have all the ideas. While it’s possible to think outside of the box, you’re still not thinking that far from your own experiences and knowledge. That’s why it’s so important to hire diversely. Hiring people from different backgrounds and with different experiences brings in unique information that you simply would never have had access to otherwise.
Of course, just because you hire with diversity in mind does not mean you’ll automatically get these great ideas. It’s important to cultivate the right workplace culture that encourages the exchange and workshopping of ideas. At the end of the day, it’s unlikely your employees have this magical answer fully formed. Rather, you need to work together to workshop unique solutions and different approaches.
Getting people to jump in with options and ideas can be difficult, but that’s what you need. That’s what meetings should be used for. To help you get the ball rolling, start by sending out outlines to your team on what each meeting will be about. Give them questions to think about and problems that you want to address. That way, everyone can take some time to actually workshop some ideas on their own before they go to the meeting.
Once in the meeting, start spit-balling ideas based on the topic at hand. Get all the ideas, good and bad, out there so that you can then start workshopping the good ideas. You want everyone to communicate, so if someone isn’t comfortable talking to the group, give them the option to write in ideas before the meeting.
An important tip to remember is that you can take planning in stages. Workshopping ideas does need to result in a finalized plan that everyone is on board with. You’ll also want to make sure that everyone is clear on what the plan is and what goals you have for them.