Optimizing business operations is crucial for the success and sustainability of every business. For small and medium-sized businesses to meet their goals, enjoy growth, and keep up with the competition, they must constantly invest in honing their operational efficiency. In this article, we have put together seven important steps that you can take to ensure your business stays ahead of the curve.
1. Use collaboration software
Facilitating collaboration in your business is key to streamlining operations and improving employee productivity.
In fact, 90% of organizational decision-makers say that availing multiple collaboration tools in the workplace increased their overall productivity. This is because collaboration allows you to combine talents for improved problem solving when working on a project.
It also promotes creativity, innovation, and allows you to bring out the best in your team.
There are many tools that you can use to collaborate effectively and optimize business processes. Some examples include:
- Project management tools such as Trello and Basecamp
- Unified communication tools like Slack
- Video and audio conferencing tools like Zoom
- Crowdsourced decision-making platforms like Lumio
- Tools for creating and sharing documents such as Dropbox and Google Docs
- Collaborative funding tools like Cobudget
- Screen sharing tools like Loom
Using collaboration tools in your business will ensure you operate seamlessly by ensuring all team members are on the same page.
2. Leverage the power of automation
Businesses can streamline their workflows and make their operations easier by automating tedious tasks that employees need to accomplish every day. We live in an age where there's a technology to help us with virtually any task. All you need is to carefully analyze your business needs and work requirements, then find the right tool for the task.
Examples of business operations that you can automate for greater results include:
Social media engagement: Most businesses use different social platforms as part of their sales and marketing strategies.
Employees spend a couple of hours every day posting content and engaging audiences. Using tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule social media updates facilitates better time management so you can focus on other important business functions.
Customer service: Integrating a customer support platform like ZenDesk or Salesforce Help Desk can streamline how the support team handles complaints and inquiries.
Email marketing: Tools like Mailchimp and SendGrid allow businesses to create and run more effective marketing campaigns for a higher ROI.
Digital accounting: Instead of using spreadsheets and sending paper invoices, you can integrate a digital accounting tool for easier online invoicing, tax processing, expense reporting, and other financial functions.
As a business executive, there are tons of automation tools that can help employees make the best use of their time. So, consider every department in your business and find a tool that can increase their efficiency.
3. Hold fewer, constructive meetings
As per a study, an average employee spends 31 hours in unproductive meetings every month. So, if you’re a business leader stuffing your employees’ calendar with back-to-back meetings every week, you need to rethink your strategy.
You don’t have to be the kind of leader who asks employees to attend “a meeting to plan a meeting”, or “a meeting to discuss a previous meeting”. This will only slow down your business operations.
Instead, you should keep meetings constructive such that there’s a clear agenda to be covered every time you meet. If there’s nothing tangible you intend to achieve from a meeting, then schedule the discussion for later.
Doing so will minimize inconveniences and reduce time wastage so that employees will focus on crucial business operations.
4. Encourage a culture of open communication
One of the best ways to increase operational efficiency is to encourage constant feedback, sharing of ideas, and communication in your business environment.
As an executive, you can’t oversee how everything in your business runs. However, employees in different departments can identify a process that should be streamlined or an area that should be improved to increase efficiency.
For this reason, business leaders need to ensure all team members can comfortably voice their opinions and provide feedback without feeling intimidated or undermined. All this boils down to how well you can maintain a culture of open communication.
If you can create an environment where employees interact and talk openly about how the business is run, then you have a reliable source of steady information on how to increase operational efficiency. Doing so will make your business more productive and set it up for explosive growth.
5. Limit employee interruptions
As mentioned above unplanned meetings are a leading productivity killer in most businesses. However, meetings are not the only source of interruptions that prevent employees from completing tasks efficiently.
Things like constant email alerts, notifications from project management software, and chat message popups can distract the flow of work. For every interruption, it takes a couple of minutes for the employee to effectively get back into the zone.
Business leaders should therefore reduce email notifications by using tools such as Inbox Pause. Using such tools to keep your maintain a distraction-free workspace allows employees to focus better on what they need to achieve.
6. Hire talent that fits your organizational culture
For a business to succeed, it must have a productive workforce in place. As a business leader, you should therefore prioritize hiring employees that align with your company’s vision and core values. With a set of happy and motivated employees, reaching your business goals will be nothing but a breeze.
Apart from bringing in the best talent, you should assign every employee a role that fits them best. When you deploy employees where their professional skill set, personal strengths, and passion lies, your business will eventually enjoy huge leaps in productivity. This should be easy for everyone since today’s technology-driven world allows businesses to leverage distributed talent and work remotely.
The bottom line here is assembling a productive workforce in a healthy working environment where everyone feels at home. By doing this, most of your business operations will fall into place.
7. Keep an eye on your business cash flow
The last but highly important tip for small businesses is proper cash flow management. Your company’s financial health is the lifeblood of all business operations, so you should continuously keep track of your finances.
This starts by making informed budgeting decisions and allocating capital on operations that matter most. Every decision you make counts, so you need to set priorities and remain committed to your budget for optimal ROI.
Besides proper budgeting, you should use invoicing software to track where your cash goes and facilitate better scrutiny of your finances.
If you’re not available to handle or oversee your financial operations, you can assign this to a trusted accountant within your organization However, remember to check in every week so you can stay on top of things.
Tracking your cash flow allows you to understand your business's financial status and make sound decisions that will push your business forward.
The goal of optimization is to elevate your operational efforts and create a more productive business environment.
This requires a multi-faceted approach that covers the main areas of your business, including the leadership structure, financial operations, human resources, and business development processes.
Following each of the tips discussed above will yield the best results for your business. More importantly, you must be open to new ideas and continue evolving to remain competitive in today’s ever-changing business landscape.
Author Bio: Adela Belin is a content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour. She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people's lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.