In this series, we have looked at the value of standard processes in your business, how to identify your high-impact procedures, and how to document them. This final article focuses on improving and optimizing your business processes.
You are about to learn how to analyze your processes to find the areas causing you issues. You will then be able to decide upon the changes required and when to outsource or automate elements of the business so it can run more efficiently with increased reliability.
Begin this journey by outlining the scope or limits of the potential changes so that everyone involved understands the constraints around identifying opportunities for improvement.
Understanding the constraints and what can or cannot be done allows you to avoid issues. For example, a possible change might be to invest in some new equipment, but that is not immediately possible due to financial restraints.
Here are some points for consideration:
These questions must be looked at and acted upon before identifying the improvement you desire.
Let’s look at some examples:
Defining the scope of your business improvements up front genuinely helps and allows you to confidently say “yes” or “no” to proposed changes.
Here are a few common problems you may encounter.
This next step is finding out if you have missed anything, what these issues are, and where they live.
This is a critical factor in your plan. You need to ensure that discovering your missing steps takes front and center to ensure that processes will be efficient and effective.
Here is a simple example:
This “process” looks simple enough, but steps are missing, which will cause issues for someone who lacks knowledge in this area. At the very least, there should be steps for uploading, formatting, proofreading, and editing the blog post.
All sorts of questions will crop up about what to do next (and how). But unfortunately, there just isn’t enough detail and information in that process to enable someone to reach the process outcome.
A more detailed example is the Marriot hotel’s famous 66-Step manual designed just for the process of room prep for a new guest, done in just 30 minutes. You can read about it here.
This specific example details every action required to give a guest the confidence that every room in this hotel chain is prepared with the same level of excellence.
This serves not only the hotel’s needs, making the employee’s job easier, but also allows (because of the level of detail) one employee to accomplish the job alone. The amount of detail needs to be clearly defined and easy to put into practice.
Asking and finding answers to the following questions will assist you through your discovery process.
Search answers from all who are involved in the process.
After locating problems and removing non-essential steps, look closely at the remaining steps and see if any of these could be automated.
Automation usually means increased productivity, better use of materials, better quality and service, and fewer employee hours.
The real trick here is to evaluate automation to ensure it is for the best. But unfortunately, new technology also can mean complicated software, more training hours, and additional personnel requirements.
Have a backup plan if technology fails at any point.
Keep an eye on this and check on it often to see the effectiveness of the automation in achieving your desired goals.
Have a close look at whether it makes sense to outsource or whether it does not make sense.
Outsourcing can help in increasing efficiency without the expense of having full-time employees.
Here are areas where outsourcing can make a lot of sense for your business processes.
When outsourcing, consider the following
Outsourcing has its drawbacks as well. First, you will have to train, which will cost time and money.
Consider all aspects before you outsource.
You can easily find professionals for your outsourcing needs from your business networks on LinkedIn, Freelancer, Upwork, etc.
In conclusion, if you want to improve your business processes, you should take the following steps: 1) document your current processes, 2) analyze where there is room for improvement, 3) make a plan for how to improve the process, 4) implement the changes, and 5) monitor the results. These steps can improve your business processes and make your business more efficient and profitable.
“I started my own business in 1995. The Self Employed Business Academy gets it. Clear, concise, and actionable information. You may be in business for yourself, but with the self Employed Business Academy at your fingertips, you won't be by yourself"
Ed Carey, AMG, LLC