Time is money. And you have always wished if you could save an hour or two from your everyday routine to do more for your business or company. But there is no get away from the everyday paperwork or any other kind of transactional work.
Whether you are an entrepreneur, or are working for a company, you want to improve your output without increasing the hours you spend at work. That’s when you need to explore ways of improving productivity.
This article is a quick read for those looking to organize their business schedule better to save time, effort and money. Here we go.
1. Establish standard procedures and optimize processes
If you are part of a relatively new business, it is very likely that you do not have many processes defined. But process optimization and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure) can drastically increase productivity if religiously followed.
You can first target to standardize and optimize those processes which have a direct impact on your top line or bottom line. Examples of such processes are product delivery approvals, invoice processing, insurance claims processing, contract enrollment etc. The processes will vary with the type of your business.
You need to define standard steps for all these processes with associated OLAs (Operational Level Agreement) to ensure timely completion. Let us take product delivery approvals for example. If you are in the initial days of your business, you might be doing this on phone with no logs maintained. As a part of process standardization, you can make this email based, with a predefined template.
Also, after process standardization, you can resort to various techniques to further optimize these processes as given below:
- Have a dedicated employee for overlooking process improvement: If you can afford one, hire a person who will ensure OLAs are met and are improved over time.
- Automation: This is a buzzword today and almost every business out there talks about automating their business processes and tasks. You can use popular automation platforms – such as UIPath, BluePrism, Infosys Nia, Wipro Holmes etc. – to implement business process automation, application automation and task automation. You can take help from an automation consultant to see which automation platform suits your business.
- Use best in class technology (apart from automation tools): Using the right platforms and tools for can make a huge productivity hike. Platforms that are fast and agile are always recommended. Invoicera and Zoho Subscriptions are examples for such systems in invoice processing.
A combination of the above methods should positively impact your productivity over time.
2. Train people to bring in consistency and comprehensiveness
This is kind of derived from the previous point. Different people have different ways of working. And they have varying speeds. Some are fast and some are not. So to ensure maximum output from all the employees, they need to be trained with the best approach to a problem or a task. Employees who are fast and productive can use this approach or technique to further fine tune their way of working. For others, this would be a huge boost in terms of getting the work done faster and easier.
However, this doesn’t mean that there is only a single approach that works the best. I have seen employees come up with new ideas and frameworks to bring consistency for a task across teams and work streams.
So how should you tweak or enhance your training systems to bring in the consistency and comprehensiveness factor? Here are a few ways:
- Follow a uniform training schedule: Those people who need to be onboarded for the same role have to be given training at the same time. Continuous learning and development activities should also happen together for this set of people.
- Have detailed training content: Make your training collateral comprehensive so that there is no confusion.
- Have the training curriculum validated by people who work on the ground: This comes from my practical experience. At times, there is a mismatch between the training content and what needs to be done during actual work. So validating it with other employees or heads helps to refine the content to add relevance.
3. Create a milestone based work plan
A work plan helps to organize your work better. Here I refer to a team’s work plan – and not individual work plan – which outlines the overall team objectives. Following are the essential elements of a work plan:
- Overview: This should cover the introduction and background of the work plan.
- Goals and objectives: As the name suggests, this section should list down all the goals and objectives of the piece of work. They should be clearly articulated with expected outcomes and end states.
- Strategy and direction: This should explain how the work plan aligns with the company’s strategy and vision. It should also have guidelines on how the team can contribute to achieve the vision.
- Resources available: This refers to all the resources available to support the work such as technology & tools, human resource, training facilities, data & information sources etc.
- Timeline: This includes the overall timeline and activity wise timelines.
- Contingency plans: This is intended to mitigate any possible risks. If a constraint causes work to cease, then there should be a plan B to overcome or work around it.
A detailed work plan will enforce completion of all the tasks in time, thereby improving overall productivity.
Those are my 3 tips to improve business productivity. These will work the best for new businesses, which have process maturity. Established businesses can use them to further chisel their methods.
Please feel free to share your views and opinion in the comment section.