Don’t wait until times get tough to streamline
We have all been there…when everyone is busy and cash is flowing, life is good. It’s easy to overlook just how efficient your operations are running during a boom of business, but making the effort to examine your workflows and how they can be more efficient will put you in a good place when things slow down.
Importance of a Process
Processes are sets of defined tasks needed to complete business activities, including who is responsible for each task, when, and how the tasks should be completed. Basically, these are your workflows…what work you are doing and how they are done. Leveraging defined processes not only makes it easier to provide better services but also enables you to cope with swift changes in a competitive landscape.
Don’t underestimate how important processes are for small businesses. Not only do you need to stay competitive in the market, but you are working towards growth and profitability. Defined processes are easy to repeat and to replicate when you need to scale your teams for additional work. Defined processes also help you understand what roles to hire for and identify skill gaps that are hindering your success.
When examining your operations, don’t go at it willy-nilly. It’s important to put in a process for how you identify, plan, and execute what changes need to be made. P.D.C.A. (aka Plan-Do-Check-Act) is a repetitive four-stage model for continuous improvement in business process management. This cycle steps you through a process of:
- Plan: Defining the workflow, finding inefficiencies in each task, and identifying how it could flow better.
- Do: Developing and implementing changes, decide how to gauge effectiveness.
- Check: Gauging improvements against prior measures.
- Act: Documenting revised workflow(s) and make recommendations for changes in next P.D.C.A. cycle.
Make Incremental Changes
If not implemented correctly, your new-found efficiencies can be derailed and all your efforts can turn into a huge mess leaving you with frustrated employees, angry customers, and a lot of hard lessons learned. This is the secret in the sauce…leverage a process like a P.D.C.A. cycle and make incremental changes to your workflows. Changing too many things at once can be detrimental because it doesn’t give your people a chance to adjust to the changes you make to their daily workflows.
Making incremental changes may feel like you are moving slower than you would like, but it will help step you through a process for implementing improvements you make to your teams’ workflows. This will slow things down so you can really evaluate the impact not only on the operation but more importantly, the impact on your people.
It doesn’t have to be perfect…
Streamlining your operations with improved processes doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Anticipate that not all changes will be favorable. This is the value of a P.D.C.A. cycle. If it doesn’t turn out as expected, adjust and make incremental changes again.
As your processes mature, your teams will become more fluent with those processes, and your operation will see more cost savings and profit gains as your teams become more efficient.
…Just do it sooner rather than later
Investing in processes when business is prosperous is extremely important to the long-term success of your operations. Don’t wait until you are forced to streamline because that, too often, becomes cutbacks without actually finding ways of working more efficiently. It will take some work to define processes and streamline your team’s workflows. Working through those issues in tough times is when you can least afford it, and by then, it could be too little, too late.
Coreon Group is here to help you with process development through mobile workforce applications and technology integration. Contact us today to improve your productivity and increase your potential for profitability.