Businesses are all about operations, and more operations mean a more significant business. To keep up with the rapid business changes today, you need to constantly improve your operations by finding new ways to get work done faster and more efficiently. Today’s article will dive into these tactics that can help your business run better and grow more quickly.
I will break down seven tactics businesses commonly use to optimize their workflow: inventory management, logistics, student-facing operations, HR and onboarding, sales procedures, client relationship management, and finance/accounting.
Each section will discuss why this tactic is vital for optimizing workflow at a business level before providing some actionable steps on how each tool can be implemented.
A Breakdown of Workflow Optimization
Here is a breakdown of workflow optimization:
- Capture an overview of your current process.
- Identify the problem areas in your process.
- Evaluate potential solutions to each problem area.
- Implement the most practical solution(s) at a high level.
- Implement the solution at various levels within your organization (i.e., department, team, or individual level).
- Quantitatively measure results and how it impacts the business as a whole, then iterate accordingly.
When optimizing any company’s workflow, you need to begin by identifying the main components of every business: sales, operations, marketing, finance/accounts payable/receivable, and human resources (HR). Each department has a part to play in maximizing a business’ workflow.
Seven Workflow Optimization Tactics
Each section below will break down each tool with actionable steps to implement these tactics.
Improve inventory management
Managing inventory is a constant struggle for companies at all stages of growth. To optimize this process, here are the essential characteristics needed:
- Know exactly how much inventory is available and where it is located.
- Ensure that you have the right amount of inventory in the right locations at all times.
Profitability is significantly impacted by whether or not there is enough inventory in the store. Businesses lose money when they run out of stock; thus, managing inventory is crucial for optimizing workflow and growing profits.
Many companies overlook the importance of logistics because most assume that their client’s complaints stem from poor customer service instead of an inefficient supply chain process as a whole.
Here are some guidelines on how you can improve your company’s logistics:
- Know exactly how much inventory is available and where it can be located. Businesses need to know their available inventory level to plan for future demand effectively. Keep in mind that when predicting future demand, you should consider abnormal events (i.e., natural disasters) that could affect your company’s supply chain.
- Ensure that you have the right amount of inventory in the right locations at all times (i.e., flow racks). Using a flow rack system enables employees to quickly and easily see exactly how much stock they have on hand and where it can be found – leading to better inventory management overall, which is pivotal for optimizing workflow.
Optimize student-facing operations
Students feel like they are always on the go – emailing professors, buying textbooks online, uploading assignments, and attending classes. This means that students’ expectations for service (and speed) have never been higher.
Here’s how to optimize student-facing operations:
- Offer convenient ways for students to purchase materials. For example, selling textbooks online reduces students’ time to complete transactions in person. It also enables them to compare prices more easily. Differentiating your company based on convenience will put you ahead of competitors because most college bookstores offer similar services as yours without much variation/added value.
- Reduce wait times at checkout by having multiple lanes open during peak hours or implementing mobile ordering, so customers don’t have to wait in line. For example, keeping extra registers open during the lunch rush or handing out mobile ordering devices to students picking up class materials would reduce wait times significantly.
Speed up HR and onboarding
Investing in your employees will help you reap the rewards down the road.
Here are some ways that you can speed up HR and onboarding:
- Meet with hiring managers to discuss any red flags during the interview process. Getting a head start on this allows you to understand potential problems better before they become significant issues later on so you can prevent them from happening altogether.
- Answer questions quickly when employees come to you with an issue or question, so they don’t have to wait for limbo until it gets resolved.
- Create new training materials/resources during slow periods to easily access them year-round. Also, schedule in-person training sessions when your workforce is smaller to ensure that everyone receives information promptly, rather than a large group setting where only some people get the whole picture.
Optimize sales procedures
Improving sales process performance requires two key elements: effective promotion strategies and an easy way to purchase the product.
Here are some tips for optimizing sales procedures:
- Promote high-value products during high traffic when customers are more likely to make impulse purchases (i.e., weekdays from 8 am – 10 am, lunch hour from 11 am – 1 pm). By promoting high-value products when your customers are in the mindset to purchase, you increase revenue and maximize efficiency.
- Create ‘customer only’ deals that offer exclusive discounts for repeat business. This tactic encourages customers to return more frequently to take advantage of the same great deals each time.
Upgrade client relationship management
Providing better service is your key to differentiation in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace.
Here are some ways you can upgrade client relationship management:
- Offer personalized follow-up emails after completed transactions for maximum effectiveness (i.e., send an email asking how their experience was if they’re still on your website). Personalizing messages based on customer data allows clients to know that their concerns will be addressed immediately and effectively.
- Offer a payment plan for high-value products/services that require large amounts of upfront capital, such as college degrees or home loans. Offering a payment plan makes it easier for customers to purchase items they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to own by instalments instead of all at once.
Streamline finance and accounting
Accounting departments can sometimes get bogged down with tedious tasks since many employees handle their own records to save time.
Here are some ways you can streamline finance and accounting:
- Move from an individual filing system to a global filing system so that everyone can access the same information simultaneously. There is no need to collect files from various people before compiling them into a single binder.
- Use automated workflows to streamline the invoicing process so employees can focus on more important tasks. Automating your invoicing system saves time and effort for both you and your employees.
There are many benefits to being well organized. Workflow optimization allows for more efficient business operations, making it easier to keep track of inventory, logistics, sales procedures, etc. An organized work environment also leaves little room for human error when carrying out tasks.