Gone are the days when the maxim “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” reigned supreme. Today, continuous improvement is the name of the game, thanks to hyper-dynamic business ecosystems and constantly evolving consumer demands.
Even so, jumping wholly onto the disruption bandwagon without proper consideration for your business’ specific needs and modus operandi could be a recipe for a major disaster. After all, the best business strategies are those that are data-driven, systematic and targeted, addressing precise problem areas while buttressing strengths.
To that end, here are 4 bulletproof strategies that’ll minimise your business’ resource wastage and maximise efficiency.
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It might be glaringly obvious, but the biggest driver of a process overhaul is one that tends to be easily forgotten: that your business exists for your customer. Any process change at any organisational level, department, or stage of your business has to translate into added benefits for the customer.
When identifying the particular pain points within your organisational workflow, it may not be enough to ask which junctures in the process have the most redundancy or wastage, but to assess (and keep re-assessing) the utility of the process itself to the customer, in other words, to ask, “Is this process still as beneficial to the customer as it previously was?”
If, for instance, social media managers are spending too much time on increasing organic reach, the solution may not simply be to look into how to be more efficient in this process, but to consider whether increasing organic reach itself is the best way to reach customers–perhaps it may be time to introduce integrated marketing strategies that incorporate both digital and traditional forms of marketing.
It’s hard to keep track of the day to day goings-on in the office if it is more disorganised and windswept than the aftermath of a hurricane. Fortunately, the easiest way to get everything in order and put things back where they should be is to implement the 5S techniques to clean up the office.
Seiri – sort; sort away the things you no longer need in the office and get rid of them
Seiton – set in order; arrange items according to frequency of usage (the more frequently used, the more easily accessible)
Seiso – sanitise; polish, disinfect and clean the working area
Seiketsu – standardise; establish a standard to benchmark workplace cleanliness
Shitsuke – sustain; adhere to the standard at the personal, team and organisational levels
In fact, just as the 5S techniques can be applied to keep the office neat and tidy, they can be applied to business process optimisation strategies as well to maximise efficiency and productivity.
Investing in skilled manpower should be one of the highest organisational priorities for your business. While attracting top-tier talent alone can do wonders for your organisation, it may not always be a practical option, especially for small and medium enterprises. The next best thing is employee training and retraining in hard and soft skills, both of which are crucial in maintaining that competitive edge in a constantly evolving industry.
Beyond manpower structures, implementing practices that improve employee engagement and autonomy can fill in the gaps, minimize bottlenecks and reduce red tape, thus translating into greater customer satisfaction.
Perhaps most importantly, engaging frontline employees in process optimisation strategies can glean specific insights on why and how a particular process should best be improved and increase customer retention and loyalty by as much as 12%.
While the continuous improvement ethos deems it necessary to constantly assess and re-assess various business processes towards maximising productivity and minimising waste, a relentless focus on adhering to standardisation is also counter-productive for innovation. Where business optimisation requires as little risk as possible, innovation is impossible without risk.
Whether you’re an established company facing slower growth rates or a burgeoning start-up facing issues with continuous improvement, sooner or later, a balanced approach is necessary.
If possible, dedicate different teams or persons to oversee each process (one for continuous improvement process and another for innovation), making sure that each team is clear on their roles and communicates sufficiently with one another.