Did you know that an inefficient business can cost you 30 percent of your revenue?
What’s more, inefficiency can take a toll on both employee and customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, many businesses deal every day with inefficiency in areas they don’t even realize.
The solutions are sometimes simple, like booking flights through a different airport. Or they may require a bigger change, like overhauling your company’s phone system.
In every single case though, the increase in efficiency makes up for the effort.
Are you ready to transform your business into a well-oiled machine? Then keep reading to find out the steps you can take today to increase business efficiency.
Identify What Needs To Change
The first step to efficiency in business is identifying what isn’t working.
Common issues in businesses include out-of-date or redundant processes. Or it could be that procedures are needlessly complicated. To pinpoint what needs to change, every area of the business should be looked at.
Often the areas that are inefficient come as a surprise. These include unnecessary in-person meetings that could take place over the phone. Often these meetings cut into valuable time and are not focused enough.
Not allowing employees to take breaks can also cause poor performance. This is because we have a limited capacity to maintain concentration for long time periods.
Improving communication, however, is one of the top ways to improve business efficiency. Though emails are the most popular form of business communication, they aren’t always the best method.
An alternative is to try instant messaging apps like Slack. If the purpose of the communication is to keep a team updated, task management apps like Basecamp can work just as well.
Help Employees (And You) Manage Interruptions
Morning meeting at 8 a.m. Team meeting at 10:30 a.m. Lunch from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Ever had a morning that started like this? Everyone has. By the time afternoon rolls around, no actual work has been done.
In order to become more efficient, you and your staff need to limit interruptions.
An easy way to get started on this is to schedule multiple meetings on the same day. That way, the staff knows that the rest of the week is for actively working. If they can work uninterrupted, they can focus and do their tasks more efficiently.
Meetings aren’t the only culprits though. You and your coworkers will get much more efficient when other distractions are eliminated. These include notifications from chats, email alerts, and software pop-ups.
After every distraction, it takes time for you to bounce back and resume work effectively. Take advantage of one of the many apps and tools that can help, including Pause Inbox for Gmail.
Stop One Minute Meetings
Again, on the topic of meetings, not all are created equal. Someone stops by your office or you meet them in the cafeteria. A common scenario in work life every day is the “Got a minute?” meetings.
The thing is, it almost never takes “just a minute”. Realistically, nothing important can be accomplished in such a short period of time. So these meetings, or more accurately, interruptions, often stretch to 10 or 15 minutes of time wasted.
To solve this, schedule short meetings with a set time span. Set the topics as well so that you know exactly what needs to be discussed. It’s extremely simple to request these meetings too.
Send an email that asks to “meet for 15 minutes at 12 p.m. to discuss this project’s budget”. If you’re on the receiving end of a meeting request, ask the person to send you it in this exact format and see how well it works.
Think Long Term With Your Tech
Technology is often one of the areas where businesses lag behind on efficiency. If hardware becomes obsolete or software isn’t up to the task, a whole business can be brought to a standstill.
Improving business efficiency means creating a long-term technology plan.
Working with network vendors and outside IT professionals can help. Set your business’ long-term objectives and communicate them to your IT people so the technology you use is appropriate for its needs.
New technology like cloud computing can make your business more efficient and productive. What’s more, it accomplishes this in a cost-effective way. Data is held securely in an offsite location, which increases security and minimizes risk.
It also allows for easy collaboration between workers. Additionally, when they aren’t in the office they can access the cloud from home or on-site at a client.
Use Software To Manage Tasks
Thanks to technology, we are spoiled for choice as far as methods to communicate and collaborate. In the modern workplace, email is not the ideal method in every situation.
For tasks, the most effective tactic is to get specific task management software like Trello. Software like this keeps messages and work progress all in the same place. It can also help bring clarity on the responsibility for each task.
No longer will someone be able to say they weren’t notified of something. And no longer will an endless email back-and-forth need be the norm. With today’s software, everyone can work more efficiently and stay on task.
When you do choose a software, make sure you have the best IT services to back it up. A good IT firm can even create a custom dashboard or connect systems together so the software works for your exact needs.
Efficiency also applies to the art of communication. External or customer-facing, as well as internal communication among employees, are both equally relevant here.
For customers, speed and knowledgeable answers are of prime importance.
A solution that integrates CRM or customer relationship management can enhance your entire communications strategy. To make customer communications more efficient, link your phone system to a CRM program.
This way, customer service representatives always have the most relevant customer information to hand. A CRM program can include details like a customer’s address as well as records of their past calls or emails.
Internally, you should also be encouraging employees to communicate in a more efficient way. As a manager or company owner, you can’t be everywhere at once. Employees can spot areas where improvements can be made.
Encouraging employees to openly communicate with management can help bring suggestions on how to improve efficiency. Promote a culture where everyone feels that they can voice concerns and feedback on the way things are run.
Encourage Face To Face Communication
In many instances, we think that virtual communication is more efficient. However, often it takes longer and is more prone to misunderstandings than a face to face conversation.
Employees who can talk face to face often have better relationships and are more productive than those who email or chat. Make sure your employees feel comfortable talking to each other.
Automate Whenever Possible
Whenever you can, automate your processes. It’s a necessity and not a luxury in today’s business environment.
Monotonous tasks take away from employees’ time. They can also cause employees to become bored, stressed and prone to making mistakes.
The great thing about automating and taking away these tasks from your workers? Now your workforce is able to focus on tasks that need a human touch or critical thinking skills
Don’t know where to start? Think about the most repetitive tasks that are necessary to run the company. It may be sending out receipts to vendors. Or it could be sending pay stubs at the end of the month.
Initially, these new processes may cost extra, but they will pay off in the long run in efficiency.
Digital Integration Is Your Friend
If your company is struggling to keep up with the pace of digital transformation, you’re not alone. However, if you want to be competitive and modern, digital integration is non-negotiable.
Not being digitally integrated can cost your business in terms of efficiency and competitiveness. To combat this, companies are coming up with novel ways of incorporating the advantages of digital in their business.
One company, Jetsmarter, made digital the core of their business model. Their app streamlined the work that would previously be done over the phone. In doing so, it both reduced the time it took and got rid of unanswered calls.
Explore how digital integration can automate tasks, and free up employee time. Communication can be faster and easier by taking advantage of digital solutions. Problems are discovered earlier, and collaboration is easier and smoother.
Get A Managed Service Provider And Improve Business Efficiency
Managing a network is not the best way to use your employees’ time. It could be time for you to hire a managed service provider for network administration. Not only will it make your business more efficient, but it’ll also be more profitable.
Outsourcing managed services can cover just about everything you’ll need from a 24/7 help desk, to monitoring your network around the clock. Your IT staff will then be able to use their time to focus on other IT tasks.
Reduce Unnecessary Travel Time
Travel is a big part of life when you’re a professional. It’s also an area that greatly affects the health and productivity of both you and your employees. All companies can take a look at their business travel and make it more efficient.
One solution is to have a networked phone solution. Web conferencing and video calls can do plenty to reduce the time wasted traveling to offsite meetings. This also applies to training sessions. Even better, your company will save money too.
You can also consider the modes of travel you’re using.
When choosing to go by air or land, for example, think critically about the advantages of each. For example, an employee could get more work done en route if they went by plane compared to driving.
Connections and layovers are often extremely inefficient. A simple thing like choosing a more streamlined airport can make a journey much faster and smoother.
The result of all this? The time that would have been spent on traveling can be used to get work done.
Be Intentional When Processes Have To Change
Here’s the thing about efficiency in business, sometimes the established process is there for a reason. In some cases, surprisingly, sticking with that process can be the more efficient choice.
When you do need to change a process, be intentional about it. Changing for the sake of change itself isn’t the best way to run a business.
Say for example you have a project already in progress. By trying to be faster and more efficient you could end up cutting corners. When that happens and something gets missed, later on, you’ll spend more time and money to fix it.
Things can sometimes go much more smoothly if we work within the existing process and make minor tweaks.
This doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with an inefficient process just because it’s always been done that way. You can still implement the changes discussed here, but do it intentionally.
Don’t start to implement efficiency tactics when you’re behind on a project. Or because there’s a need to shake things up. All changes must be done intentionally and you should communicate with your team about them.
Know When To Sacrifice Efficiency For Your Goals
Though you have several ways of improving business efficiency, you should know when to stop implementing them. Not everything should be automated, and valuable meetings shouldn’t be cut short if they run over time.
Especially for small to medium-sized companies, too much efficiency can stunt growth. If your company has goals that involve growing larger, efficiency may be sacrificed in the short term for long-term growth.
Put An Efficiency Plan In Place
Once you have a plan to increase business efficiency in place, get feedback. Your employees are the best ones to let you know if your process is working or not.
IT solutions are a critical part of an efficient business. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you with your efficiency goals using the power of technology.