Are you doing everything to boost the efficiency of your operations? Have you overlooked some opportunities? Here are 5 tips to help you get the most from your organization’s efforts. Efficiency within an organization comprises so many different methods that it can be as complex as other in-house processes. When it comes to improving efficiency, there are a number of ways to do it. But how can organizations implement efficiency that brings real results that improve your bottom line?
How to boost the efficiency of your operations
Efficient operations mean getting more from your resource inputs. Efficiency in your operations crosses functional lines, making efforts to boost the efficiency of operations complex and potentially expensive (although the return is well worth the effort). In manufacturing, that might mean investing in new equipment that produces less waste or transforms inputs faster, in marketing that means improving the performance of your marketing tactics, in finance that means getting a higher return on idle capital or stretching your money by leveraging it.
Sure, the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to improve your business’ ROI (return on investment) is to slash your budget. When you decrease your budget by 10%, you might see an immediate improvement in ROI of 10%. However, in the long run, this strategy of shrinking to greatness dooms a business to failure. Consider these examples:
- Delaying maintenance almost always results in higher costs because poorly maintained equipment is less effective, resulting in more downtime. Postponing maintenance also results in shorter lifespans for equipment and more costly repairs.
- Spending less on marketing means your sales will dwindle over time.
- Hiring less qualified staff to save money usually results in lower productivity.
- Gaining the highest rate of return on your investments might mean tying up capital so it’s not available when needed.
- And, the list goes on.
The best way to boost the efficiency of your operations is to manage them more effectively. Here are four ways to do that.
1. Employ the right methodologies
For those who are in charge of small businesses, there are a number of methodologies that businesses can use to streamline processes. A method like Takt Time is a way that many manufacturers improve lean production operations to align with customer demand but there are also similar methodologies. These include:
- Kanban, which is a scheduling system to implement lean manufacturing and typically follows four principles – visualizing the work, limiting the work in progress, focusing on the flow, and providing continuous improvement.
- Scrum, which is an Agile framework used in project management that divides work into fixed-length iterations known as “sprints,” with very clear roles and a focus on continuous improvement.
- Lean is another approach where the goal is to eliminate waste by emphasizing flow, customer value, and providing that continuous improvement that numerous industries have adopted.
Sometimes in order to be more efficient we have to get a better understanding of which type of framework suits us the best and when we identify a methodology that suits our needs it will make for a far more efficient process. For instance, we consulted with a business still operating as it had 100 years ago: paper patterns and low-tech cutting that resulted in a lot of waste. We recommended they implement CAD/ CAM (computer-aided design and manufacturing) to reduce waste and ABC (activity-based costing) to ensure they generated target profits on each design they manufactured.
When it comes to these types of methods it is best to consult experts that can guide your business in the right direction.
2. Understand the concept of personal time management
To be more efficient we can’t just look at the business as a whole but we must identify that to be more efficient each individual has their own battles, especially when it comes to personal time management. We live in an age where everybody is distracted through social media, numerous open tabs, and this is barely scratching the surface. People are more fatigued than ever because of a number of distractions, digital and personal. What does it take to overcome this?
In order to manage time effectively you’ve got to ensure that your employees own the process that gives them the flexibility to do the task that’s needed of them while also educating them on effective time management strategies. A very useful time management strategy is the Pomodoro method, which has been effective for people with few distractions or work beyond optimal productivity. It involves setting a 25-minute timer, dedicating themselves wholeheartedly to that task until the time is up, and then taking a five-minute break. With every four Pomodoros, a longer break is necessary. The Pomodoro technique is very effective because it’s easy to get started, combats distractions, and makes people more aware of where their time goes.
Personal time management is a constant battle but if we can win this it doesn’t just help them to work better but it stops us from creating any oppressive workplace practices, for example, asking employees to account for every minute of their day, which is demoralizing and will result in them jumping ship pretty soon!
3. Set achievable goals
We can improve efficiency by zoning in on the end goal. From the perspective of employees who are working on laborious, time-consuming tasks, it pays to know what they are doing this for. Realistic and achievable goals help people maintain motivation and inspire new ways of working, resulting in a more efficient workplace. We can all make the mistake of setting unreasonable and impractical goals and deadlines, making people lethargic and inefficient. Businesses need to set goals within a specific time frame to maintain morale and improve efficiency.
Which goals you set matters. Arbitrary goals that don’t contribute to improved performance have a high piss-off quotient that might result in higher turnover and injury. Unrealistic goals actually detract from performance, over time. For instance, Amazon sets very high performance goals for its warehouse staff, meaning workers can’t even take a break to relieve themselves. In part, these draconian measures resulted in some warehouses unionizing, which limits management flexibility.
Sometimes, your goals actually interfere with performance. For instance, physicians forced to see a certain number of patients per hour miss problems resulting in a misdiagnosis or mistreatment of a patient. The end result of this drive to boost the efficiency of the operation may result in a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
4. Understand where the organization is not working effectively
Before you start on your path toward improved efficiency, it’s important to know which activities contribute to inefficiency and to estimate the possible outcomes of improvement relative to the cost to improve the operation. You’ve got to look inward and understand why your organization is not working as effectively as it should. Another business I consulted with suffered huge costs due to inefficiencies. Some were easily fixed, for instance, they customarily invoiced customers at the end of the month to improve monthly profit figures even though that meant incurring overtime costs the next month to ensure prompt delivery of invoice goods. Some inefficiencies were more costly and time-consuming, like the fact that the manufacturing process involved shipping a product back and forth across the 10-acre campus to access the machines necessary to accomplish the next step in the manufacturing process. Fixing this problem didn’t simply involve a procedure change, but reevaluating where the machinery is located to move machines used in processing a particular product near each other.
Efficiency is not just about processes but it can be reflective of a culture that is not working at its optimum. If you gain a better understanding of where your organization can work more effectively on a cultural level by asking for employee feedback to gain an insight into the overall morale, this could instantly unlock whatever has been hindering your process.
5. Continuously invest in Infrastructure
Investing in infrastructure is a pivotal strategy for enhancing the efficiency of your operations. Infrastructure forms the backbone of any business, encompassing the physical and organizational structures that support day-to-day activities. It can also ensure smoother workflows, improved productivity, and heightened overall performance. One crucial aspect of this investment is the incorporation of durable and reliable shelters.
Fiberglass shelters, in particular, stand out as an excellent choice due to their resilience, longevity, and versatility. These shelters provide a secure and weather-resistant environment for equipment or personnel, contributing significantly to operational stability. Integrating these infrastructure elements not only safeguards assets but also fosters a conducive working environment, ultimately boosting operational efficiency.
Ensuring your business works more efficiently is not just about incorporating a project management tool or a methodology that you hope will instantly transform everybody’s abilities, but it’s about that “whistle while you work” mentality. Motivation is a key component of efficiency and if you can actively look to improve employee morale you might see a massive difference in your business.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.