Due to the intricacies of running a business, many entrepreneurs may find themselves too caught up with day-to-day activities to bother optimizing their operational efficiency. Companies (especially in the SME space) often have to make do with limited resources. As such, failing to address operational inefficiencies is simply beckoning for wastefulness and perhaps failure.
Fortunately, business owners can combat inefficiencies by streamlining their business operations. Streamlining involves simplifying business processes while eliminating unnecessary elements and is undoubtedly a cornerstone of lean management. Here are five ways businesses can streamline their operations in 2021 and beyond.
1. Address The Bottlenecks
Bottlenecks are points of congestion in work processes that happen when workloads exceed the available process handling capacity. Depending on their severity, bottlenecks can slow down or even halt operations completely. Businesses are more likely to experience bottlenecks when they change or introduce a new production process.
To address the bottlenecks in your business, begin by identifying the departments where processes are not executed as quickly as they should. You might have to perform an audit of each process to point out specific reasons for the inefficiencies experienced. In most cases, bottlenecks boil down to an insufficient/lack of access to essential information, materials, or services by the employees.
2. Upgrade Data Management
Given how fundamental data has become in executing day-to-day business decisions, having the right data at the right time could be the difference between a thriving and an unsuccessful company. Data inaccuracies inhibit everyday decision-making, which affects an enterprise's ability to grow and deliver customer satisfaction. Enter master data management.
A master data management solution consolidates all of a company's valuable data from internal and external sources to a single point of reference called a master record. Investing in a master data management solution could significantly reduce data inaccuracies across your business by:
- Enforcing data governance, i.e., data accuracy and security
- Ensuring data consistency across various organizational systems, functions, and locations
- Eliminating manual data replication
Automation is a fundamental part of digital transformation and one of the fastest ways to instill efficiencies in your business processes while making work more fulfilling for your employees. According to a report by McKinsey, roughly 60% of all jobs have at least 30% of potentially automatable tasks.
To streamline your operations through automation, begin by performing an in-depth analysis of all the processes at your workplace to identify any repetitive tasks that you can automate or consolidate into workflows. Note all the workers, the tools they use, and the average time it takes to complete each task.
Use the information gathered to identify repetitive tasks and the best tools/methods to automate them. Automating even the simplest of processes can free up your employees to focus on high-value tasks, boost employee satisfaction and improve overall productivity at your workplace.
Most businesses have the occasional highly technical tasks they can outsource to a specialist on a short-term basis. Although some business professionals may be against executing work processes out-of-house, it is hard to argue with the obvious benefits of outsourcing from a streamlining perspective.
For starters, outsourcing can save you time and money: there is no shortage of functions to outsource, from HR to strategic planning, consulting, and everything in between. Besides the obvious cost and time-saving benefits, outsourcing provides near-instant access to specialized labor, which could prove invaluable for small firms that cannot hire in-house experts.
Additionally, firms can outsource to get the extra capacity needed to support growth. While growth is often embraced with open arms, managing it can be challenging without the requisite capacity.
5. Cut Back On Paper Usage
Paper, while reliable, has two significant drawbacks; it can cause delays in task execution, and it is costly. If left unchecked, paperwork can pile up quickly and increase wait times for internal and external processes, not to mention take up too much space. You can address this issue by going paperless or reserving paper usage for security purposes only, i.e., no one can hack paper.