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COO Insight: Finding Operating Inefficiencies in Your Business

Posted by StellaPop on Dec 16, 2020 6:45:00 AM
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Operational inefficiencies can be costing your business 20-30% in revenues every year. If you've been struggling with complicated processes, hard-to-use systems, siloed information, or out-of-date tech, now's the time to seek out the problems and fix them before the losses add up. Here's how to find and deal with operational inefficiencies.

Identify Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks occur in every organization. They can arise when in-demand, specialized staff are overloaded, or when resources such as tech or production equipment are running at capacity and can be short-term or long-term issues.

Signs your organization has bottlenecks include:

  • Delays and long wait times
  • Backlogs at one end of a process
  • Stressed and anxious staff

To identify and fix a bottleneck, create a flowchart that breaks down your processes and see where the issue is occurring. When you identify the source of the bottleneck, figure out why it's happening. Once you know why, you can deal with it by investing in more resources, hiring additional staff, or assigning new responsibilities to existing employees.

Embrace Automation

Manual processes can be enormous sources of inefficiency. They take longer for staff members to complete and can result in a significant doubling up of work. Switching to an automated process may involve a learning curve, but it'll quickly pay for itself. Here's when to embrace automation:

  • Your business involves repetitive tasks.
  • Your staff is dealing with paper.
  • Your staff is missing or doubling up on tasks.
  • There is a silos business.

Automation doesn't have to be expensive or high-tech. It can be as simple as using a program to easily log timesheets, import invoices, analyze stats, track projects, or automatically follow up with leads. Switching to automated services for invoicing and payments can be a huge efficiency saver and should be the first thing you try. For more involved tasks, like medical coding, AI-backed tools can help workers do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

Analyze Your Processes

If your business is run "intuitively," you're leaving yourself open to inefficiencies. Ideally, you should have processes in place that let you measure and predict workloads, ensure milestones and deliverables are met, and make sure that work is being evenly and effectively distributed. If your processes are off, you might be dealing with some of the following:

  • Drastic swings in "quiet" and "busy" times
  • Last-minute sprints to meet deadlines
  • Staff that are over or underworked
  • An unpredictable work pipeline

If this is the case, consider investing in project management and forecasting software to help smooth out these swings in demand and ensure that your staff isn't being burnt out.

Ask Your Staff

A final way to identify operational efficiencies in your business is to simply ask your staff. Looking at data and stats will only ever show you one part of the picture, but talking to the people on the ground will help you see exactly where issues are arising and why. For example, something like the layout of an office or restaurant may result in simple processes taking longer; things like set delivery days or operating hours that don't reflect patronage can be another problem. Lack of training is another common issue. Ask your staff:

  • Where problems are arising
  • How things can be improved
  • What tools, training, or resources they need

Simply talking to your staff will give you a good insight into what they need to do their jobs effectively - and your staff may just offer up a simple, easy-to-implement fix.

Get Expert Input

If you suspect your business is struggling with operating inefficiencies, don't be afraid to reach out to an expert. At StellaPop, we're pros at taking businesses from good to great. We can help you perform an audit to identify exactly where the problems are - and advise you on moving past them and towards optimum efficiency and profitability. 

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See Also:

HR Insights: The Benefits of Fractional Human Resources

Improving Employee Satisfaction: How to Uncover Pain Points

Strategies for Optimizing Your HR Department

Topics: Management Consulting, Operations, Management

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