Business optimisation aims to streamline the individual processes within a company to achieve the same end results in a shorter space of time, using fewer resources, less financial outlay or minimising the occurrence of human error and bottlenecks. All of these inefficiencies can slow down your business, costing it valuable time and money, and optimisation seeks to analyse your existing model and tweak it for improved performance going forwards.
Although the idea sounds intelligible enough in theory, trying to implement optimisation on an enterprise-wide scale can prove to be a daunting challenge. These ten simple steps from Velocity’s CEO, Arno van Rooyen, will break the practice down into easily digestible chunks, which when performed diligently can provide a blueprint for successful business optimisation across your entire company.
It’s impossible to know what to fix without an awareness of what’s broken – and to achieve that, you’ll need to review your existing business model, including all of the underlying processes for every arm of its operation. These individual processes include things like recruitment, advertising, sales and invoicing, all of which contribute towards the smooth running of the business. Create a diagram or mind-map of the current processes detailing every step of the way, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.
After mapping out the individual processes, it’s necessary to quantify what each of these costs in terms of time, effort and expense. How many photocopies of documents are made in each step? How many employees are required to work upon individual facets of the process, and how many hours are they devoting to them? After gaining a comprehensive idea of how the process works, it’s far easier to identify weak points, common areas of concern and human error hotspots.
Which brings us onto the crux of the matter – identifying weak links. Specifically, it’s important to look out for steps in a process which are either unnecessary (because they don’t contribute anything towards the final goal) or inefficient (because they take up more time, energy or investment than they need to). Things to look out for here include an excess of bureaucratic hoops to jump through, such as a disproportionate number of authorization requests, or other profligate uses of time and resources.
4. Start lean
With a clear view of which areas of the business suffer most from waste and inefficiency, it can be difficult to know where to begin. For those new to the world of business optimisation, it may make sense to start out with a lean end-to-end process to facilitate things and get the ball rolling. Analyse the potential impact of suggested changes, including simulations of how much time, money and resources are expected to be saved after implementation. This will provide excellent preparation for moving onto more complex areas of the business at a later date.
5. Be agile
Esteemed inventor Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 700 ways that won’t work.” Those who are serious about achieving long-lasting and meaningful success are not afraid to fail at their first, second or 700th attempt. At the same time, it’s essential to remain agile when trying out new things; constant assessment of performance can allow you to pinpoint what is working and what isn’t, then make the necessary adjustments to arrive at a better conclusion next time round.
6. Automate and innovate
Perhaps the quickest and easiest way to trim the fat and streamline business processes is through a digital-first approach. Invest in technology to automate processes which require minimal or no human supervision, freeing up your workforce for more profitable endeavours. Cross-channel social media management, automatic email responders and customer service bots are just some of the ways in which you can reduce the strain on your staff and connect people with data more efficiently through effective new B2B and B2C digital models.
7. Empower your workforce
With your workforce now freed up to tackle more important tasks, it’s important to maximise their impact by empowering them to function as effectively as possible. This can be achieved by incorporating flexibility into their working routines – the use of sales management apps can be invaluable in coordinating all information in one centralised database, thus facilitating the sharing and revision of data on-the-go. In this sense, a digital transformation can support business-wide collaboration and open up your enterprise to new and constantly evolving markets.
8. Enable performance monitoring
Crucial to the success of the changes you implement is the ability to deem just how successful they have been. Ensure you put in place a framework which allows you to keep track of the impact that your changes are having in a tangible sense; that means having access to cold, hard stats about the money, time and resources that are now being spent on a project in comparison to those expended before the changes were brought in. Effective performance monitoring capabilities are a truly vital component of the overall success of your project.
9. Constantly monitor performance
With those capabilities in place, it’s essential that you make full advantage of them by assessing your company’s performance on a constant basis. Depending on the resources available to you, it’s potentially worthwhile to have an individual or even a whole department devoted to analyzing the impacts of your changes and identifying key areas which could be further improved, just as you did in steps two and three. Only in this way can you continually stay competitive in your industry and ensure your business is performing at its full potential.
Just as step five underlined how a single failure is never fatal to the future of a business, it’s also important to understand that success can never be final, either. With new technological developments entering the market every day and customer needs and wants evolving all the time, the optimisation of your business is an ongoing process that will always require work. Filter the results from step nine back into the beginning of the funnel and strive to continually tweak your strategies as best you can to meet the ever-changing demands of the marketplace. Despite being an interminable and sometimes exasperating process, business optimisation is one that will ultimately pay massive dividends for your company.