There isn’t a right-thinking business owner in the world that doesn’t strive for ever-improved levels of efficiency. Fail to address this fundamental matter, and your business will not only become overly complex in its most basic operations and processes, but it will also lose money and eventually become unsustainable.
Imagine an inefficient communications system: multiple channels of discussion about closely related topics (email, Slack, Skype, WhatsApp) and your staff will have to search out key information, asking their colleagues about it, tracking it down, soon finding conflicting details, wasting time, misunderstanding, misreporting. These are totally real scenarios for inefficient communications processes and can cost money, even jobs.
Or what about an inefficient warehouse? Your pallet delivery service would be split between multiple partners, the docking bay will at varying times be overwhelmed then underwhelmed, goods will be stocked inconsistently, new staff will take months to understand the ‘system.’ As well as costing you time, money and customers, an efficient warehouse could even bring about serious health and safety concerns. The integrity of your business is at stake.
So how to address the matter of efficiency? How can you make your tackling of this ongoing concern effective and…. efficient?
Here, the long-held principle of logic that has been a cornerstone of the scientific method is applicable, which demands that those seeking to resolve a problem look for the simplest solution.
If you wish to make efficient your communications, then, be sure that all your team are using the same communications platform, that they don’t deviate from it, and that all their interactions are accessible and trackable.
If you wish to make your warehouse more efficient, you need to reduce your number of delivery partners, reduce the number of steps across all the physical processes of freight management, and reduce the possibility of stocking error by making its placement logical, seasonal and safe.
The larger question is how to implement a process for continuous improvement in efficiency across all departments. Further, how do you measure the success or lack thereof of those changes? When specific issues are identified, how to properly respond to those issues without causing greater disruption than the issue itself?
As you might imagine, there is no one answer here, but there are some principles that hold firm as a practical reference point for pretty much all kinds of business operation.
Firstly, how can you create better value for your customer? What does your customer want? How can you offer it to them in a way that is easier, cheaper, quicker? Could what you do even make the essential quality of that offering better (for example, as in foods supply or, indeed, any kind of perishable item)?
Next, what do you do in order to provide that offering? If you wish to reduce the complexity of that task (as you probably should), there is a simple test: how quickly could a new member of staff adopt your processes?
Thirdly, want to measure the real effect of your improvements? Then, as in the words of Deep Throat, follow the money. Accumulate hard data to see how effective you’ve addressed an issue.
Finally, believe in the method. Logical, simple progressions that address real, evidenced cases of inefficiency will positively impact your business. See how those changes ripple across the various areas of your organisation, and make it part of your business culture.