The technical definition of efficiency is “the ratio of useful work performed by a machine or in a process to the total energy expended or heat taken in.”
In business terms, it means that the more efficient your business, the less effort needed to create success. This would be the ideal situation for most business leaders.
Aside from it’s people, a business is the combination of a set of processes that work together. Processes such as production, marketing, sales, finance etc. If these processes are well defined, a company will run more smoothly, likely leading to better performance in the long run.
For example if you want to grow your customer base, you would look at making improvements in Marketing and Sales. Ensuring repeat business however, relies on having strong Operations and Customer Services processes.
3 simple things you can do to help improve efficiency in your business:
- Use the right technology
- Implement cultural change in the workforce
- Identify who’s responsible
Growing a business that has inefficient processes will lead to roadblocks
If your business grows quickly, it will place greater strain on your key functions/ processes. If there are any weaknesses, they will come to light in the form of growing pains. One way to counteract growing pain is to work on standardising and documenting your business processes.
You can map your customer journey, from prospect to client. Identifying the steps along the way will allow you to highlight gaps and areas for improvement.
Automating as much as possible will save you a lot of time and money. The process should work for you and not the other way around. To find out more about choosing the right systems for your business read our article on choosing the best CRM for your business in 6 easy steps.
Businesses can grow to a certain point despite inefficient processes
When you’re a small and agile start-up it’s easier to adapt and make changes to processes in order to find what works. Key processes don’t need to be documented and standardised at first because you’re still figuring out what they are. However, what works when you’re small, may have faults that will be exposed when you grow.
As new employees join and departments grow, it becomes increasingly important for business processes to be standardised. This makes collaboration possible, and for key documents and data to be easily accessible to everyone.
Old processes can soon become outdated in a growing business. Over time they will hold it back from further growth.
How can technology help businesses to improve efficiency?
Many processes can be simplified with technology by automating. Reducing the time commitment from employees and reducing the likelihood of human error.
For example, rather than managing all HR related issues on paper or in spreadsheets, systems exist that allow for a big reduction in effort spent on managing HR.
- Employees can see how many days they have left to take rather than asking you.
- Click a button to approve a leave request and have it go into the relevant calendar.
- Have automated workflows that notify you when number of sick days have been high, or when it’s time to schedule a review.
Businesses can improve their sales process by making use of a CRM system that enables greater automation. Such as automated emails, tasks, assigning leads and creating follow up reminders etc.
Accounting software is far more appropriate for book-keeping, and integrates nicely with other areas of the business such as sales and purchasing (for example automatically generating invoices and tracking expenditure), yet businesses continue to use Excel to do all of their accounting and rely on people to communicate transactions internally.
Autotask Workplace improves business efficiency as it creates a centralised document storage system which allows for the right level of access for everybody. No more email attachments and multiple versions of files saved in different places. You can set who has access, and one version of a file stays up to date.
Culture changes go hand in hand with technology changes to improve efficiency
Keeping employees productive is crucial to business efficiency.
Interruptions are a key cause of wasted time. It takes on average 16 minutes to regain focus after an interruption (people walking up to your desk, emails coming in, non-essential meetings).
Businesses can keep employees productive by tackling the interruption culture. By encouraging remote working where possible, as productivity often improves outside of the office.
Email should be kept to a minimum. Ideally process it at set times in the day. The need to always be attached to email is not conducive to getting quality work done.
Who’s responsibility is process improvement?
Some businesses have a CIO or COO who is responsible for improving the business’ systems and information. In others, the Managing Director or CEO may oversee this.
You can gain a lot of value by delegating this job to an outsourced expert. Your technology partner should be able to advise you on the right technology for your business. They have experience with new solutions that improve efficiency and should be able to help you implement them.
Get in touch to talk to us today, to find out more about how we could help you improve business efficiency.