5 Simple Ways To Boost Operations Efficiency

Guiding your business through a persistent COVID-19 pandemic and unsteady economy may have already meant big changes to your company. Nonetheless, finding ways to improve operations efficiency remains a key factor for success as you move your business forward.

“Small businesses don’t have the luxury of waste,” writes Larry Alton in a blog post for Small Business Trends. “Without huge teams and unlimited budgets, business owners must make every minute, dollar, and hire count.

“Identifying inefficient processes and replacing them with better practices can help companies save money without sacrificing quality in the bargain.”

Here are 5 tips to consider as you look for ways to boost operations efficiency at your small business.

Think speed. For a lot of businesses, having the ability to make quick decisions and smart pivots has proved invaluable, and remains a critical component of success.

“Many business-as-usual approaches to serving customers, working with suppliers, and collaborating with colleagues—or just getting anything done—would have failed,” says an article posted by the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

“They had to increase the speed of decision making, while improving productivity, using technology and data in new ways, and accelerating the scope and scale of innovation. And it worked.”

Keep it up, says McKinsey & Co. senior partners Aaron De Smet, Daniel Pacthod, Charlotte Relyea, and Bob Sternfels. The need for speed has never been greater, they write.

Identify and retain outsource partners. Successful leaders across business, industry and public sectors, understand the benefits of tapping expertise outside their core acumen or their teams to grow their company.

Finding an outsource partner is one way to do that as you work to improve operations efficiency – whether for insight on processes, a new business model, or specific worksets.

“Once you find someone who delivers quality service on time, hold on to that person for dear life,” because the returns are more than worth the investments, writes Alton in Small Business Trends.

Reflect, restart and revitalize. Experienced entrepreneurs and business experts have long touted the act of reflection to help frame future steps. Take time for a careful review of ways you could improve your business operations, from process tweaks to new technology.

“We believe that business strategies in the recovery phase will be best orchestrated through three critical actions: reflect, restart, and revitalize,” advises consulting firm Deloitte in its COVID-19 Roadmap for Recovery guide for small businesses.

“These actions can help businesses to bridge the crisis response to a successful future, by laying the foundation to thrive in the aftermath of the crisis.”

Get employees’ perspectives about productivity. If you haven’t already, include employees in your review of operations efficiency. They may be able to provide a helpful perspective.

“You might know everything about your business but your employees know more than you do about their daily grind,” writes Alton in the Small Business Trends post.

Try to get specific feedback about how to improve productivity, advises HR company Insperity. “Talk about the future not the past. What would make their lives easier? Are there processes or people within the company forcing them to duplicate their efforts?”

Understand customer demand. One of the main challenges for small businesses right now is aligning offerings and inventory with the changing needs of your customers.

“Any operational efficiency process necessarily begins with identifying customer needs,” says Francis Vaillancourt, director of operational efficiency services at BDC Advisory Services. “This involves a rigorous analysis of the anticipated order volumes and types of products or services sought.”

The goods or services that may have sold well before the pandemic, or even at the beginning of the pandemic may no longer be top of mind for customers, write BDC senior advisors Edward Ferguson and Éric Trudeau in a different blog on the company’s website.

Vaillancourt points to what’s called “takt time,” a German term that refers to the production rate required to meet customer demand. “This analysis will help you adjust your operations to produce what you need at the right time and efficiently.”