In today’s highly competitive business world, it is a must that outdated business procedures should be streamlined. The market research firm IDC found that companies lose 20 to 30 percent of their yearly revenue due to inefficiency and redundancies. This staggering figure underlines the necessity of keeping a tight rein on business practices.
Timothy Drabic, an industry expert, explains how outdated processes could be hurting your business and how to streamline and update them for the future.
One of the most common pet peeves of business owners and employees alike is a rigid and siloed business system requiring miles of red tape. When employees find themselves too mired in red tape to get their jobs done, it can be a serious drag on morale. Some examples of excessive red tape are paper forms that need to be filled out to request a business service.
On the other end of the spectrum, companies with little internal structure are also difficult to work in. When there are no established policies and procedures explaining how the business should be run, employees can feel lost. Power vacuums may be filled by the wrong people, and this can cause negative feelings in the workplace.
Another common frustration is the convoluted organizational chart. Employees frequently aren’t sure about their direct supervisors and who is actually involved in their line of business.
Employees who have more than one direct report above them, especially supervisors from different parts of the company, report that they have very little job satisfaction. These employees may simply leave the company, or they may become unproductive and turn into toxic members of the workforce.
Streamlining a business’s processes can be a highly rewarding activity. With streamlined processes for everything from sales to customer service, businesses can run more efficiently and create more profits.
Streamlining a business process involves increasing the business’s efficiency by simplifying many tasks. Streamlining also means taking out unnecessary steps. Finally, cutting waste is a huge part of streamlining a process.
The guiding principle is that value should be added at every step in the value chain. This means more efficiency and less wasted work. If the task does not add value to the final deliverable, it should not be a priority.
Defining the Value Chain
The value chain is a way to determine which parts of the process are vital to the final outcome. Each step in the process needs to be examined to find out whether it is necessary.
For example, a food company’s work is based on the quality and popularity of its products. Anything directly related to the production of the food is high on the value chain. So are processing and packaging. Anything that has a lower priority can potentially be outsourced.
Automating Repetitive Tasks
To fully take advantage of today’s technological advances, repetitive tasks should be automated. In our example of a food manufacturer, the tasks of weighing, measuring, filling, and packaging can be performed by a mechanical system. This frees technicians’ and manufacturing workers’ time to deal with more pressing issues.
Determining whether a process should be automated can be difficult. If the end result requires a great deal of precision and adds significantly to the value chain, it may be best to let a skilled human worker take the job. This can be represented by the example of a chef cooking the same high-end meals each day.
Bottlenecks in the Process
Anything that blocks workflow in your business should be considered a bottleneck. These cause a great deal of frustration. Usually, bottlenecks occur because the employees in question do not have access to the information, materials, or services that they need to do their jobs efficiently. This can also happen when personnel are not adequately trained or when they are working with subpar equipment.
When a person or system passes information to someone or something else, this is a handoff. Handoffs can be another source of frustration within a company. If this information is incorrect or late, more bottlenecks or errors could be produced. Automating handoffs is a great way to streamline this business process.
Interactions with the Customer
All interactions with the customer are extremely important. The customer should be able to interact with customer service representatives who are fair, friendly, and competent. When customer contact satisfaction is poor, the whole business will be dragged down.
Together with an industry expert like Timothy Drabic, business owners and managers should sit down and determine how their companies’ actions should flow. Taking the time to make sure that company processes are clear, concise, and make sense will increase employee satisfaction, reduce waste, and make the customer happier with the end product or service. Process mapping as described above can be a transformative activity for any business.