Tag Archive for: Efficiency

5 Tips to Help You Streamline Your Business Operations

Smooth operations are crucial to successful business practices. As businesses grow in both size and complexity, it can be easy to get lost in the minutiae of operations. Thankfully, today there are more tools than ever before to help you simplify your business processes and keep your team on track.

Here are 5 ways to help you do just that.

1. Standardise communication

It will complicate any business if your employees are not on the same page. Confusion can lead to mistakes and disappointed clients. Avoid these problems by setting communication standards. If you want all client communications to go through email so there is a record for the team, make that a policy. Try chat programs like Skype for Business for internal communications. The easy-to-use program will let your team easily share thoughts on one forum.

2. Take advantage of shared drives

This could be a Microsoft OneDrive, internal shared drive or other cloud platform. The important part is that team members have access to shared documents. These could be used for reference materials or to collaborate on a document. Store items like employee policies, best practice procedures, and any reference materials here. Make sure that everyone knows how to access these drives so that they can benefit from the shared knowledge. If you are afraid of anyone making unauthorized changes, just lock down your documents before posting.

3. Try workflow software

Many companies struggle with coordinating tasks efficiently. Post-It notes and jotted lists can only get you so far. If you’re having trouble jugging your team’s to-do lists, think about using a workflow software. Entry level options like Trello or Asana have free entry level subscriptions that can help you get your feet wet. You can use these tools to make to-do lists, assign tasks, share documents, or brainstorm projects.

4. Outsource payroll

Payroll is time consuming and complicated. Payroll specialists must navigate finances, personal data, security concerns, and tax procedures. If your operations are bogged down in payroll paperwork, consider outsourcing these tasks to a payroll company. These companies are experts at payroll matters and can really help lighten your load. They understand the security requirements, tax processes, and government regulations and give your team the space to focus on more strategic matters.

5. Boost your email campaigns

If you’re gathering customer data, chances are you have some email addresses. Your weekly newsletters or periodic email updates may not be making the most of this marketing stream. Services like MailChimp can automate your email marketing process, saving your team time and energy. It can also optimize the process so that your materials target customers at strategic times.

IT Efficiency – Our Top Tips for Growing Companies

Most businesses would like to achieve IT efficiency, but it’s often difficult to measure. Calculating efficiency gains is not a straightforward sum as it’s dependent on the goals of your business. Examples include immediate bottom-line improvement, increased revenue or improved productivity.

Therefore one business may be focused on reducing costs to improve revenue, whereas others may focus more heavily on training their employees to use IT systems more efficiently. IT efficiency will vary for each business, so you must set some basic expectations when looking at an efficiency drive.

Let’s take a look at our top 5 tips for improving IT efficiency. Some will be more relevant to your business than others, but it’s a good starting point.

1. Focus on your business requirements, not the technology

From time to time, we can be distracted by the latest developments in technology. We often want to implement as soon as possible to gain from the suggested benefits. Caution is required here before you rush into the execution of the new ‘in thing’.

Always take it back to the businesses needs and goals. Is this technology necessary to achieve business goals, or will it be an aid? Or is it just a nice to have and may bring some smaller benefits to the table?

You will gain IT efficiency when the tools you have selected help the company to succeed. For example, the business wants to improve productivity across the company, so IT suggests introducing a new ERP system. It will automate several of the internal processes, giving employees more time to focus on other projects.

The moment you get carried away without thinking about business needs is the moment you lose IT efficiency. The company may not utilise the tech as first thought, or it may have several bugs as its new or a significant investment that isn’t suitable for your business in the long term.

Keeping on top of technology changes and developments is crucial to remain ahead of your competitors, but the business goals must be at the forefront of your mind.

2. Select your IT vendors and partners carefully

Your IT can only be as efficient as your IT vendors and partners are. Sometimes, it is easy to be drawn in by convincing offers, cheap deals, prominent advertising and good reviews, leading to an impulsive purchase. But, it does not mean this is the most suitable product or service for your business which will lead to issues in the long term.

Building a strong relationship with your key IT partners is vital as they are essential to your efficient operations. They are your strategic partners. It allows for an open conversation between yourself and your partners, allowing you to communicate the business goals and expectations. You will find you have more scope to discover new technologies, process and frameworks relevant to your business, as you both will be working cohesively.

If you don’t have this type of relationship with your IT vendors, then you should question whether they are hindering your IT efficiencies. Are they just thinking about the next product or service they can sell to you, or are they thinking about how they can help your business achieve its goals?

3. Create documentation and define your processes, sooner rather than later

While documentation and processes are admin tasks which no one wants to do, they are crucial to your business. In the short term, it can seem as if you are losing efficiency, but the moment there is an issue with your IT infrastructure, you will have defined processes and supporting documentation to deal with the problem as fast as you can. It is at this moment you increase IT efficiency. Less time needed to figure out and fix the problem means less downtime.

Think about the IT stakeholders, from your technical leads, IT operators to your end-users. Each requires a different version of the documentation. For example, an end-user will need documentation around using a particular application correctly, but they do not need to know about configuration and troubleshooting processes. A simple way to group your employees is:

Technical leads require comprehensive technical information about systems and applications and how they work with each other.
IT operators need an administration guide which documents everything from installation, configuration to troubleshooting.
End-users should have manuals which document how they should use applications to complete tasks relevant to their job role.

Don’t forget you need to review these processes and documents regularly. Things change over time, and processes evolve, so frequently updating them is vital.

4. Automate!

Unless you have been living under a rock the past few years, you will know automation is essential for improving efficiency. Day-to-day there are so many administrative tasks that take up your IT departments time, which often leads to larger projects getting less attention. By automating these tasks, it reduces the time spent on them and improves consistency.

It will allow your IT department to roll out new applications and services quicker, decreases security and compliance risks, lower OpEx and gives your IT employees time back to focus on their strategic priorities to support the business goals. Your IT efficiencies increase as you are getting more out of your IT department.

Automation can break, so you always need to be mindful of this. Ensuring you have checks and documentation in place, will help you resolve any issues moving forward.

5. Last but not least, educate your employees

It may seem obvious, but training your employees to use systems correctly will improve IT efficiency. But, often we don’t see the value in training and development.

On the adoption of new software, employees will receive training to become familiar with the new interface and the basic functionality. Often once this is over, there is no further refresher training, and this is where issues begin to arise.

As with all of us, we often fall into bad habits and may wander from our defined processes. Once the bad habits set in, it is hard to correct these, and will often cause inefficiencies.
For example, when a new employee joins your business, it is likely another employee who may have developed bad habits will train them to use systems and software. Consequently, this will lead to the new employee automatically adopting these ways of working.

Continuous training will help to eliminate this issue, keep employees on track, ensure they know how to use systems and solutions effectively, and help you understand how to get the most out of your investment. Overall, training your employees will increase IT efficiency.

Furthermore, don’t underestimate how much your employees will appreciate additional training. It shows you are investing in them and the future of the business.

So, to close

Just having your IT infrastructure in place and working, does not necessarily mean it is efficient. All businesses want to benefit from IT efficiencies, whether that be an immediate bottom-line improvement, increased revenue or improved productivity. Your business needs to focus on achieving its goals, select IT partners carefully, create documentation and processes, automation tasks and educate your employees for your IT to be efficient.

8 Things Really Efficient Companies Do

Most everyone would like to be more efficient. Just think, you would spend less time doing the things that you don’t enjoy and more on the things that bring satisfaction, happiness and profit. Some people are actually very adept at efficiency.  They manage every manageable moment so they have more time for themselves to do the things they love. Here are eight techniques efficient people use to gain that freedom.

1. Stop Multitasking

Many people fool themselves into thinking they are good at multitasking. But actually very few can solidly focus on more than 1 or two tasks, particularly if they require focus and depth.  They fool themselves into believing they are getting more done when in reality they are accomplishing less and the quality of the work is poor. Really efficient people know that concentrated effort with few distractions leads to better work product in faster times. Otherwise the work may not be up to par, which means wasting even more time and energy going back to fix the mistakes.

2. Delegate

So much productivity is lost when people take on more than they can accomplish. Don’t be inspired by CEOs and leaders who overload their schedules and burn the midnight oil. Really efficient people are extremely good at delegating tasks to others who will perform them better. When you know how to break down a task and empower others to contribute effort, you can choose the tasks most suited for you and crank through them in record time without distraction.

3. Use Appropriate Communication

Poor communication is a huge time-waster. A fast email transmitting bad instructions or an offensive attitude can end up adding many unnecessary hours to a project. The masters of efficiency take a little extra time to think through their communication in the beginning. They consider their objectives when deciding to get on the phone. They craft their emails with purpose using the exact language necessary to get the desired effect.  It takes a little more time at the beginning but can actually shave days from a project.

4. Apply Structure to the Schedule

With all the available scheduling and productivity tools you would think more people would feel they have a handle on their schedule. And yet often people feel their schedule drives them instead of the other way around. Efficiency fanatics create standard routines in their schedule so they can achieve a disciplined approach and be ready for the important events. The more you control the calendar, the easier it is to make room for the unexpected.

5. Give Everything a Proper Place

A lot of time is wasted chasing down lost items. Keys, pens and clothing hunts can cause distraction and frustration, especially when you have something important to do or somewhere important to be. People get really efficient from being organized. Establish a home for all the items you have.  Factories that practice LEAN create common homes for necessary tools of the trade. You can do the same. Organize clothes, papers and electronics in a way that you can easily find what you are looking for.  It may take you a few extra minutes to put things away but you’ll save a ton of time and irritation from having to search for what’s important.

6. Time Activities

Do you really know how much time you spend productively versus how much time you waste? I often know that I am talking on the phone with someone who takes efficiency seriously because they tell me when the call is almost over. Efficient people set a time for each of their tasks and work to keep the schedule. Try logging your time on conversations and activities for a week.  Then spend the next week setting specific times for similar activities and work to reduce the times with similar output.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the gains.

7. Commit to Downtime

Tired and overworked people don’t perform well. People pleasers will sacrifice their own downtime thinking they are benefitting others, but in truth they detract from productivity. Really efficient people make sure they get rest and recuperation so they can perform at their peak. Since one amazing employee can do the work of three average employees, best to let the team rest up and be top performers.

8. Plan Projects

Effort is often wasted when people don’t have a clear path to success. Impatience is the direct enemy of efficiency. Really efficient people know they must take the time to research and break down a project into basic steps in order to achieve success consistently. Yes, planning takes a little time. But considering the challenges, process and responsibilities in advance will make for clear direction with the team. With good communication everyone can move confidently and efficiently to achieve all the objectives in record time.