All business owners and managers want to be able to increase their company’s efficiency. One of the ways people do so is by seeking ways to streamline a business’s processes, workflows and operations. Here are six ways you can streamline your business’s internal operations.
1. Utilize technology
One of the best ways you can streamline your business’s internal operations is by utilizing technology meant to assist in doing so. There are two main types of technology you can incorporate into your business’s processes: assistive technology and automation technology. Assistive technology, such as an operations support system, is meant to help your employees automate processes, perform their work more quickly and better manage and organize their workloads. Automation technology, such as artificial intelligence tools and machine learning algorithms, is meant to take the weight of operations off your employees’ shoulders entirely by fully automating various processes.
2. Go to your customers for help
You don’t need to work on streamlining operations alone. Not only can employees and peers help, but so can your customers. Utilize strategies such as Voice of the Customer (VoC) to gather data and information from your customers. This data should specifically refer to your customer’s interactions with your company and what they think about those interactions, how they feel about them and their overall opinions of their relationships with your business. Customers have outside perspectives on the businesses they associate with, which means they’re far more likely to spot places in your customer-facing processes where there are issues with accuracy and efficiency. Issues in external operations are likely to be affected by internal issues, so you can use customer feedback to discover and work on resolving these issues.
3. Consider what areas need to be streamlined
It’s highly likely not every aspect of your business needs to be streamlined. Those areas that do require streamlining are unlikely to require the same amount of work across the board. You should review each aspect of your operations individually, using the same accuracy and efficiency criteria, to determine how much streamlining each one needs. You should examine the overall workflows and tools or processes involved in those workflows.
4. Develop your strategic priorities
Once you know what aspects of your operations require streamlining and how much work must be done for each aspect, you can begin to develop your strategy. The first part of your strategic streamlining plan should involve prioritization. You need to determine what order in which your processes and workflows should be streamlined. Those that are the most integral to your business and require the most work should be first on the list. The ones that require the least amount of work and that are the least integral should be last. The rest will fall somewhere in the middle.
5. Maintain and update all documentation
When you update your internal operations to streamline them, you also need to review any associated documentation to ensure it’s updated accordingly. Internal documentation includes instructions on how to access or use the tools you’re streamlining, how employees should proceed through the steps of a workflow or process and visual aids. All of these need to be updated, retired or rewritten in accordance with the updates to your operations and any related tools utilized in those operations.
6. Always perform tests before implementing streamlined operations
You should always test your updates to any operations before you implement those updates. This ensures your changes have successfully been applied and work as intended. You can have employees do usability testing and utilize documentation to ensure everything is functioning properly and is easy to use.
It’s important to tailor your attempts to streamline your business’s internal operations to the business’s needs. You may find that not every aspect of your business requires streamlining work, while others may either need to be completely reworked or simply tweaked to improve performance. Make sure you review all workflows and operations processes to determine the amount of work required to successfully streamline them.
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