Cheat Sheet

Business Efficiency For Dummies

From Business Efficiency For Dummies by Marina Martin

Business efficiency is crucial to the success of any enterprise. Business efficiency is a broad term that covers a lot of ground. Every aspect of your business, from finance to human resources, from production to distribution, can be riddled with inefficiencies that drive costs up. When assessing costs, it's important to remember that there's more than money at stake: cost is time, quality, and good will. Being efficient in business means making choices that benefit one sector of a business without (unintentionally) taking from another. Knowing the steps to take and the tools to use to make your business more efficient will help you get the best results at the least possible cost.

Five Steps to Increasing Business Efficiency

Increasing your business efficiency can seem daunting, but in five relatively straight-forward steps you can get a handle on how to identify and eliminate costly inefficiencies.

  1. Measure where your business is today across spectrums such as finances, customer sentiment, product/service quality, and employee dawdling.

  2. Brainstorm and list potential inefficiencies (and potential solutions) across your organization.

  3. Quantify the potential impact of any proposed solutions may have on other sectors of the business.

  4. Set efficiency goals and corresponding projects to achieve them.

  5. Define and execute a clear project plan for reaching your goals.

Seven Steps to Efficient Change Management

Change is good, but it can also wreak havoc on an organization if not managed with thought and careful planning. Here are seven steps to managing change in any organization, efficiently.

  1. Assuage fears upfront.

    Top fears include being replaced, not being able to keep up with new skills, not having enough time/resources to adapt, and loss of quality.

  2. Invite everyone to the table.

    People complain less afterwards if they are given a chance to chime in upfront.

  3. Help others see themselves as change agents.

    Encourage ideas and innovations for improvement from every corner of the workforce.

  4. Be a guinea pig.

    Try new tools and processes yourself first to show your team that you have skin in the game, too.

  5. Plan for the future.

    If your change doesn’t stick, it’s not real change.

  6. Allow room for change.

    This means giving employees the time and tools they need to master new skills and ways of doing things. In other words, don’t just pile change on top of everything else.

  7. Don't forget your external communication.

    Outsiders and potential new players also need to know what your project is trying to achieve and how close it is to the goal.

Eight Efficiency-Enhancing Tools

Knowing which tools to use and how will get you quickly on your way to identifying inefficiencies and ridding your business of them forever. Here are eight invaluable tools for any business owner of efficiency expert.

  1. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool for tracking all customer interactions.

  2. A wiki for clear and updated internal communication.

  3. A calendaring system with transparent free/busy time that lets colleagues book appointments on one another’s calendars, circumventing the need to share suggested times back and forth.

  4. A text-expansion tool that can speed up routine tasks by pasting common sales pitches or loading a favorite website with just a few keystrokes. (See ActiveWords for Windows or TextExpander for Macs.)

  5. A central file repository for sharing the latest company memos, scripts, and graphics.

  6. A public knowledgebase to let customers and potential customers help themselves.

  7. A case ticketing system to keep track of product/service issues and feature requests.

  8. Group email lists to ensure key project players are never left off messages, and peripheral players can limit their exposure to daily or weekly digests.

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