11 Surefire Ways to Optimize Your Business and Automate Your Work
Target Corporation, the second-largest discount retailer in the United States, has well over 340 000 employees. Yet the company manages to organize and structure the command chain and communication between all its business departments.
The way Target maintains order it is through calculated strategy and frameworks that help to optimize and automate parts of their workflow across the entire organization.
Optimizing business processes and automating some operations isn’t beneficial only to giant enterprises. While they’re the ones that implement it on the largest scale, small businesses can easily improve their productivity framework as well, by taking persistent steps towards goal-oriented decision-making and amended workflow.
“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill Copeland
If you start a journey without a goal, you’ll stop at the first obstacle, never moving forward. The same rule applies to every single business activity. To succeed, companies need a clear vision of where they want to ultimately.
Setting clear goals eliminates the hours wasted on purposeless task implementation and helps to define important steps that lead closer to the efficient business optimization and big accomplishments.
A widely recognized framework for goal-setting is the SMART method, each letter signifying an important ingredient of a successful objective:
Specific – goals must be clear and focused on a single purpose
Measurable – all business outcomes should be trackable, including your long-term goals
Attainable – goals must be reachable, even if only through hard work
Relevant – goals must comply with your overall business vision and mission
Time-bound – there needs to be a well-defined start and end point and fixed time for achieving the goal
Tangible business outcomes
In a 2014 survey by Accenture, executives from leading companies evaluated their ability to get the big decisions right to be crucial to improving their company’s agility. 58% of respondents stated that they consider strategic decision-making paramount.
What great leader know, is that in addition to establishing clear goals, companies need to understand and define their desired business outcome and a strategy to get there. Following clearsighted goals helps to maintain clarity and communicate the expected results to customers, shareholders and employees.
It is a lot easier to work on a project with outlined deadlines, milestones, and outcomes rather than operate without a shared understanding of the work’s objectives.
To turn vague ideas into tangible goals, managers need to formulate principles, base their objectives on a clear idea and leave some room for amplifying the objectives in the long term.
Establishing clear rules
While a company culture with no set rules might seem like a great way to give everyone the freedom they need, it might become a problem as the company grows.
Here’s a proof: organizations reporting strong leadership development programs are 1.5 times more likely to be found atop Fortune magazine’s ‘Most Admired Companies’ list, a research found.
Companies need to establish a logical chain of command so that everyone’s aware of their responsibilities and know to whom they’re supposed to report. A command hierarchy also has some informal benefits: young employees can establish a mentorship relation with their supervisors, leading to quick learning and higher job performance.
Hire the right people
The biggest success factor of every business is its team.
To make the best out of every team member, managers need to ensure that the person’s skillset is suitable for their job and deploy them in the most efficient way.
The best employees are the ones aligned with their company’s vision and values, working to improve their work environment and make the business more profitable.
The most promising candidates do not join a company because of a decent salary; they’re looking for interesting challenges, room for career advancement, and pleasant work environment.
According to a 2014 survey, 51% of workers who currently have a job are either actively seeking, or open to a new job. This number hints that companies do not only need to attract new employees, but also work to retain their best-performing team members.
Organizations have always struggled to find ingenious people and establish a foundation for successful teamwork.
According to a recent Google research project, Project Aristotle, the most important ingredient of thriving teamwork is a constructive and sincere conversation about team members’ insecurities, fears, and aspirations. Supportive team culture necessitates constant communication and trust among people of different backgrounds.
While working in Pixar, Steve Jobs bought an abandoned Del Monte canning factory and had it built into an airy atrium with cafeterias and meeting rooms. Jobs knew that in order to make innovation happen, people needed to discuss matters and share ideas with folks from other business departments.
The biggest minds in today’s business world have embraced the power of collaboration and teamwork to drive innovation and growth. To improve the company-wide work culture and enhance collaboration, every organization needs to provide the means of these things to happen.
Optimized everyday tasks
Every team member has only a limited amount of time and energy each day. Therefore, it is highly important to use these resources in the most effectual ways, employing time management techniques in daily work and planning.
Outsourcing and delegation – Every task should be done by a person with the most relevant skill set. Instead of doing everything by themselves, high-level executives need to load off some work to their colleagues, giving them room for improvement and creating challenging opportunities.
Prioritization – Organizations that prioritize tasks according to their goals are more likely to reach milestones and complete projects on time. Priorities should be chosen with objectives and long-term benefits in mind, with less focus on deadlines and other people’s demands.
Fewer and constructive meetings
According to a survey, most employees attend more than 62 meetings per month. This means that over 20% of work time is spent on often useless reporting and meaningless chat.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that meetings aren’t important, but there’s a lot that companies can do to make these more efficient. To prevent the waste of time, everyone should ask themselves: “What is this meeting intended to achieve?”
To keep meetings constructive, the person leading the meeting should set a clear agenda of topics to be covered during the meetup. As a result, teams will be able to cut down on irrelevant discussions and conduct 30-minute meetings instead of spending hours of their time.
Optimization with software
We’re living in an age where technology helps us with literally everything. It can also help companies to optimize a significant amount of business operations and automate parts of the everyday work.
The most widely used automation software covers task management, project planning tools, marketing and sales automation, billing software and reporting tools, such as KPI dashboards.
Before buying any tools, businesses need to outline their main problems and tasks they’d like the new software to handle. Here’s a complete guide to finding new software that helps to choose the right tools that are highly beneficial to a specific company’s work process.
Automated business operations
Depending on organizational needs and work requirements, companies are able to adopt many tools and software that facilitate tedious everyday tasks and collect data for extensive business optimization and analysis.
Many large organizations implement business process automation software to streamline their workflow and integrate various software. As a result, different business departments can share knowledge and data more quickly, leading to higher achievement rate.
Small businesses can start by automating their marketing emails, invoicing and reporting, and move on to more extensive solutions as their team grows.
Company-wide data flow
Managers often use over five different business management software solutions that all include some data. To make the magic happen and enhance team collaboration, these tools need to be integrated for seamless data flow.
The easiest way is to use software that includes built-in integrations with other online tools. Another solution for big organizations is to build API integrations or use Zapier to automate data exchange between many popular tools.
Often, businesses manage their data in Excel, creating a huge set of spreadsheets that only a few team members can access. Instead of being weighed down by piles of outdated data, companies need to bring more information online, building a foundation for quick data exchange between team members and a detailed overview for executives.
For example, handling customer relationship management online leads to organized storage of informative sales data that can be visualized as sales KPIs on a dashboard.
Report and rethink
More often than not, organizations rely on basic metrics like revenue growth and ROI when making important decisions. In reality, the days of elementary business analysis are way past, and companies need to adopt new frameworks to improve their overall performance.
An article in Harvard Business Review suggests that businesses should develop a causal model for making similar decisions over and over again. One simple test of the strength of the causal model is to see whether managers can specify with confidence a set of “if-then” statements about the decision.
Business leaders should ask themselves whether they understand what combination of critical success factors determines whether their activities lead to a successful outcome. Moreover, these factors should be tracked as KPIs and metrics to have a complete overview of various process’s performance.
Every company needs to achieve a complete comprehension of their goals and frequently rethink their strategy to optimize for higher profitability and faster growth. As John P. Kotte has said: “The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades.”
Both small and large businesses have long-term goals to accelerate growth and increase profitability. All this doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes a clear-sighted strategy to rise on top of industry.
To take a step towards becoming an agile organization, business leaders have the opportunity to embrace the power of clear-sighted business strategy and optimized work environment. In today’s world where a new company is born every minute, having a cutting edge over competitors is crucial to long-term success.
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