8 Useful Tips for Streamlining Your Business Processes
Making sure your business is running as efficiently as possible is vital in ensuring you are using your time, money, and resources as effectively as possible. Streamlining is all about simplifying processes to remove any unnecessary or overcomplicated steps, which will greatly improve productivity. It is vital to continually work on streamlining your processes because your business and the outside world are continuously developing and you need to adapt to these changes. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Assess Current Processes
To understand how you can improve your current processes, you should analyse them. You should think about who is involved, the most basic steps of each task, and how important/the benefit each process provides. You can then work on cutting down any unnecessary steps or procedures. Obviously make sure to not cut any corners when it comes to things like health and safety, and any other legal and ethical requirements.
Ranking each process by importance can help you prioritise steps so that staff won’t be waiting around for work to come in if another task hasn’t been finished first.
- Consider Automation and New Software
New technology and resources can help you streamline processes for you and your staff so you can grow and develop your business to stay up-to-date and in touch with the modern world, and subsequently improve your service to customers and clients. Things like using an in house payroll software for accountants can completely change how complex operations, such as paying staff members, are done. Powerful tools like this offer a comprehensive solution for accountants to speed up the process of producing and filing tax and employment forms.
Automation also reduces the number of mistakes made, because things like formulas are usually used. This means there’s less time wasted on correcting things caused by human error. Even if there is an error, the system will make it easy to identify what is going wrong.
- Create Standard Operating Procedures
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are documents with step-by-step instructions on how an employee should perform a task. This provides clear advice and the most efficient way to carry out a process, which will prevent any unnecessary work that otherwise may unfold if an employee is confused. This also ensures consistent results, even if certain employees leave the company, because the knowledge will not be lost because it is all written down. Any changes or more effective ways of doing something should always be documented. This helps you avoid going backwards in your streamlining processes.
- Train Employees
Similar to SOPs, make sure your employees are up-to-date and well-versed on how to do things. Ensuring the staff members are confident in what they are doing is extremely important in how efficiently they can carry out a task. Some employees may be better at some tasks than others, so assigning the correct tasks to the correct people can make a big difference. Tedium also plays a role in this, switching tasks between people can keep employees more engaged in their work which improves performance and their well-being so it’s a win-win. Therefore, it is a good idea to hold the occasional training day to make sure everyone is on the same page and performing a task to the best of their ability.
- Hire a VA
Virtual assistants (VAs) are crucial in most workplaces now. Most of the time, their purpose is to take tasks that you, as the boss/manager, are ‘wasting’ your time on. These tasks can also be carried out by a PA (personal assistant), but the advantage of a VA is that they work remotely from home, which is better financially because their operating cost is lower. There are several different types of VAs:
- Bookkeeper – (accounting and budgets)
- Administrative Assistant – (scheduling, creating reports)
- Scribe (note-taking)
- Social media manager (replying to customers, marketing)
- Designer (creates presentations and visual collateral.
- Research Analyst (competition and customer research)
These things are not a good use of your time because they can be achieved by someone else; instead, without worrying about these tasks, you can focus on expanding and growing your business. You may have VAs already, in which case you can assess their current cost vs benefit, or consider if it’s time to hire another VA to take some more of your workload.
- Ask For Feedback
Speaking to employees, and sometimes even customers, can give you ideas and crucial information on changes that can be made to improve a workflow. Your staff are the ones who are doing these processes and the same daily tasks, so they will know the areas for improvement. Hold frequent one on one suggestions with employees and set up an ideas box that is monitored often.
- Rethink or Redesign a Process
Completely switching things up in your business can be a daunting, and sometimes costly, prospect. But occasionally it is worth branching out from how you have always done things, even if it is engrained in the very skeleton of your company. You can run a trial period of a new system or process to see how things go, so you do not have to commit to it if it doesn’t work or if you don’t want to, but making these difficult decisions is part of being the boss.
- Work Towards and Track Goals
Setting goals is important because it can help you work towards a target, which creates a clear direction and acts as a motivator for not only your employees, but also your business in general. Goals will help focus and prioritise energy on the most important processes which will help you identify and streamline them.
Overall, the key to streamlining your business processes is by continuously working towards improvement. You have to experiment and be constructive in criticism to help you find ways to become more efficient. Automation is arguably the key to streamlining many processes, but it’s also crucial to ensure employees are properly trained, SOPs are kept up-to-date and to ask for feedback from staff. Also setting targets for employees and assessing progress can help you streamline processes to contribute to the success of your business.