A more efficient business leads to more customers and higher revenues. But when you’re designing processes and buying software for your business, there are some considerations you should take into account during the planning phase. Here are the most important ones:
What is Repeatable?
First, consider what happens within your business that is repeatable. To dial in on which of your business tasks are repeatable, you can use a process called business mapping. Here’s how it works:
A business map is a tool for business process modeling. These are also known as BPM tools. At their core, a BPM tool is something you use to do an analysis of your company’s methods for completing tasks. It’s a type of business process modeling map, and it can take many forms, but the most common is essentially just a process flow chart. This chart shows what processes are, and how they lead to other processes or results.
When you construct a process a flow chart, you can start to see in a visual format how your business works and what blanks need to be filled in. Once you’ve made your map, see what processes repeat and try to focus on streamlining those to make them more efficient.
Anything that has to happen on a recurring basis—that is, daily, weekly, or even monthly—might be able to be automated. Using automation software to complete these tasks will free up more of your precious time! Many email, data entry, and even marketing tasks can be streamlined with automation applications.
What Changes Each Time?
Even though a task repeats, aspects of the task change each time it is completed. By knowing what aspects change, you’ll be in a better position to design processes and select software to help you complete tasks in an efficient way and reach your objectives faster.
Consider if It Needs to Be as Complex as You’re Making It
Most tasks can be streamlined by simplifying them. To improve your efficiency and optimize every process, always ask yourself: Is there some kind of automation software or another tool you could use to make the task less complex? Consider where the inefficiencies are, and focus in on them. One of the common ways tasks can be simplified is by cutting out extra steps.
As a simple example, say you’re maintaining a database in Microsoft Excel that requires addition. If you’re doing the addition on a separate calculator and then entering the numbers into the cells, you’re doing it wrong! Take advantage of Excel’s automatic addition functions and let it do the math for you. This removes the most time-consuming step of your database management process.
Consider how to break tasks down further. For any steps that can be combined or removed entirely, take advantage!
Consider a Mindset Shift
Sometimes, improving your business processes is as simple as a shift in mindset. Frequently, once you start doing something a certain way, you become irrationally convinced that your method is “special.” It can also feel like it must be the best method, simply because you’re so used to it and have become comfortable. Designing more efficient processes means re-examining everything, and considering new ways of doing things even if it takes you outside your comfort zone.
It can be easy to convince yourself that it’s easier to delegate a task to someone else rather than just doing it yourself. While this is sometimes true, it shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Always consider whether a delegated task is making the best of your employee’s talents. Clearly-defined roles and responsibilities definitely help you see what to do yourself, what to delegate, and what to outsource (if applicable).
When it comes to re-imagining your business processes and software, the first step is usually the hardest. So what is that first step? It’s letting go! It’s letting go of your old ways of doing things, of your comfortable inefficiencies, and your habits while dealing with day-to-day tasks. Once you’re there the modeling tools, process maps, and other aspects of improving task management will be much easier.
Once you finally let go, your creative energy can run wild and you can start coming up with better ways of doing things. When optimizing, think of the customer journey and how you might be able to shorten it by improving efficiencies during the steps in between. After all, it all begins and ends with your customer. They’re the ones who keep you in business!