How to Make Your Business More Efficient: 7 Do’s and Don’ts
Perhaps lately you’ve noticed a lot of inefficiencies at your place of business. Some are a little frustrating, like meetings that are held without agendas. Others are a bit more complicated, because when flagged you’re told this is the way “it’s always been done”. These observations leave you wondering if your business is as efficient as it could be. Here are our 7 Do’s and Don’t for making your business more efficient:
- Do Insist on an Agenda for Every Meeting
- Do Not Avoid Technology
- Do Try Outsourcing to Increase Efficiency
- Do Not Have Meetings on Fridays
- Do Consider Hiring Project Managers to Make Your Business More Efficient
- Do Eliminate Roadblocks to Getting Things Done
- Do Reward Out of the Box Thinking That Makes Your Company More Efficient
1. Do Insist on an Agenda for Every Meeting
Ever arrived at a meeting before the planner, only to hear someone ask: “Anyone know exactly why we’re here?”. There’s only so many hours in the workday, and there’s nothing worse than having one’s time wasted by a team member who doesn’t effectively plan for a meeting.
Not only should all attendees know what the meeting is about beforehand, but an agenda should also be distributed in advance. Ideally, it should be attached to the actual invite, with a note that the planner is willing to make changes, if he has feedback in time.
An agenda policy will make for much more efficient meetings, since attendees will be able to read and think about the subjects in advance, and potentially bring with them suggestions or possible solutions.
2. Do Not Avoid Technology
Just because something has always been done the way it’s been done (even if it’s done efficiently), doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of a piece of equipment, a software or app that can speed the process up, or automate it for you. First of all, adding technology to the mix will keep your business current. Second, you could be the hero to your staff or supervisor, simply because you introduced a time (and perhaps money) saving idea. And lastly, maybe the new tech will mean less time spent on something that you or your team hated doing anyway.
For instance, let’s say your small business has an invoicing software program it uses to get all the company’s bills out to customers. The program allows you to duplicate a previous client invoice, to create a new one. But the program’s not very intuitive, there’s no customer support, and you’ve been using it for eight years. It’s one of a number of programs you use for accounting and although they’re free, you’re starting to wonder if the trade-off is worth it. Perhaps you do a search and find a list of “best accounting software” on a reputable blog. The accounting program you’re interested in allows you to automate invoices for regular clients, send late payment reminders, and generate financial reports (along with a number of other time saving features).
You suggest a trial run of this software to your management team, who agree after trying it that the time saved will be worth the monthly fee. This is because they now know they can get financial statements faster, at the click of a button, rather than waiting a few days for the numbers to be rounded up and manually assembled into a report.
3. Do Try Outsourcing to Increase Efficiency
Ever been deep into a project and suddenly you receive a new assignment that you know you can’t possibly fit into your schedule? When asked if it can be delegated to someone else, you’re told “there is no one else”. Consider outsourcing projects that are not critical and that can reduce your workload. In this way, you can build up a list of freelancers, who you can call whenever the work starts piling up. Over time, these freelancers will become familiar with your business, and you’ll spend less time prepping them for each new assignment. As well, the more business you sent their way, the more likely you are able to negotiate some discounts on their rates.
4. Do Not Have Meetings on Fridays
Ever had so many meetings crammed in to a day or a week, it feels like you’ll never get to the actual work that needs to be done? Consider implementing, or suggesting, a meeting free day. Have it blocked off in everybody’s calendar. Make it known that this day of the week is just for catching up on projects in play. Be serious about the initiative, and reject any invites sent to you for that day, with a (polite) response as to why. You’ll find as the weeks go by, that just knowing that you can get to something “on Friday”, will make you more efficient, because you can schedule in that time without fear of interruption.
5. Do Consider Hiring Project Managers to Make Your Business More Efficient
A project management process provides leadership and a detailed plan for every project. This can increase the efficiency of a company dramatically, because time and resources are not wasted on projects that lose focus and keep changing direction, or never should have been started in the first place.
Project management involves the implementation of a series of procedures and protocols for every project, including an analysis of the risks involved and the project’s potential return on investment, before work has even begun. If the project is greenlit, then the project manager develops a complete project management plan. During the project’s execution, the PM ensures that the project stays on time and budget, and keeps all stakeholders updated.
6. Do Eliminate Roadblocks to Getting Things Done
Quite possibly, there are a lot of roadblocks at your company that you’re not even aware of. Perhaps there are policies or procedures in place that made sense when they were implemented, but no longer do. Maybe there’s faster, more efficient ways of dealing with something that don’t have anything to do with automation.
For instance, maybe certain regularly scheduled meetings are no longer really required (but they keep happening anyway), or maybe they could be held bi-weekly instead of weekly. Maybe there are approval processes that could require one signature, instead of two. Consider what’s slowing you or your team down, and if you can improve efficiency by (politely) asking “is this really necessary?” or suggesting that the company remove a step in a process.
7. Do Reward Out of the Box Thinking That Makes Your Company More Efficient
Team members sometimes find it hard to see the forest from the trees, precisely because they are so focused on their individual projects. Yet, often they are asked at their yearly performance reviews to think “outside the box” when it comes to the company’s strategies, and how they are fulfilled. This can leave them scratching their heads, because it’s not their area of expertise. Often, they are looking to management for direction on their own day to day activities, so a request like this is something they won’t prioritize.
Consider that the staff down in the trenches may actually be the ones who are the most capable of coming up with cost or time saving solutions for the company. Suggest that your business incentivize them to do so. Establish a reward, such as a gift card, for an idea that saves your company a minimum amount of money. Or, make the reward a certain percentage of the money the company will save in a year, if the suggestion is implemented. Yes, you are likely to get suggestions that won’t work, but the one or two that will, may make your company more efficient and profitable.