We all get the high-level theory: the organization's vision and mission act as the guiding force. Various teams across the organization perform different functions, all in service to the larger vision and goals of the organization.
It's where theory transitions into practice that we all have questions and run into bumps in the road. This is where the organization either makes it or breaks it. If you want to increase your team's efficiency and make the best use of everybody's time, then you've come to the right place. We're going to show you how to identify where those inefficiencies are hiding out.
Common causes of business inefficiency
- Policy shortcomings. Lack of standard policies can create confusion or duplication of effort. Overly complicated policies can have essentially the same results.
- Process shortcomings. For example, having manual trackers where systems can generate the same data. Or having unnecessary or excess “moving parts” in a system where fewer steps can accomplish the same outcome.
- Technology shortcomings. Find the right technology solutions to facilitate your processes. Consider cloud-based collaboration vs. emailing documents around. Where it makes sense, automate your workflows, approval routings, and status updates. Find the tools with the least amount of friction and the most transparency for online project tracking and team communication.
Gap analysis, here we come!
This is a technique for figuring out the gap between "where we are" and "where we want to be" in terms of business process efficiency. Through this gap analysis, we are looking for:
- Extraneous activities that can be discontinued
- Inefficient activities that can be improved and streamlined
- Missing activities that can be adopted and optimized
Identify your team's activities
And now it’s time to make a chart, which will serve as the backbone of the analysis. It will include a list of your team's processes, and for each item, you will outline the type of activity performed, how it is performed, and any automation that is utilized. The types of activities will vary widely by team, but here is an example using a few responsibilities from a customer service team.
Evaluate activities for efficiency
Now let's add a few more columns to the chart as we evaluate the efficiency of each activity, and the importance of each activity to the overarching goals of the organization.
Now look for the highest levels of importance with the lowest efficiency ratings. This will show you where you can get the biggest efficiency improvements with a little process re-engineering. Please also check out our post on continuous business processes improvement.
Bear in mind that you’ll need to improve most processes at some point. The goals of the organization may shift, and new opportunities for automation will arise. So make a regular date with your team to update your analysis and identify the widest gaps in business efficiency.
Bring on the training
As we've discussed before, added training can also contribute to process improvements. Using the example above, the newsletter authoring process might be improved using cloud storage and collaboration tools offered by the latest versions of Microsoft Office, rather than local storage and single-user file editing. This team could also track customer satisfaction tasks using automated workflows in SharePoint where all team members can see what needs to be done to keep each customer happy and renewing.
Technology is always changing, and if you don’t keep up with opportunities for automation, your processes could be outdated within a year or two. It’s even harder to keep up now that all of the software companies (Microsoft, Google, Adobe) are shifting to a model where they release incremental updates much more frequently.
That's where always-on virtual training comes in. Just as much training as you need, when you need it. To learn more about how virtual training can benefit your organization, check out our complimentary eBook: Choosing a Virtual-Training Method that Meets Your Needs.