The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis have severely impacted the productivity and operations of businesses across the globe.
As such, business leaders must be more proactive than ever about implementing strategies that set their employees up for success, while also optimizing costs, time, and resources to achieve production timelines. The best way to achieve this and other desirable outcomes is to implement proven strategies to boost operational efficiency.
Improving the operational efficiency of an organization will result in the smooth execution of both front and back-end business processes (from production and distribution, to marketing and sales) and optimize the time and resources needed to successfully execute said processes.
With organizations taking steps to accommodate the shift towards hybrid work arrangements and contending with supply chain issues, operational efficiency has become more important than ever. Aside from promoting business process improvement and reducing waste/productivity issues, higher levels of operational efficiency positively impact customer/employee satisfaction.
However, improving operational efficiency is no walk in the park. To help business leaders looking to reap these benefits, let’s take a look at six strategies for improving operational performance.
1. Invest in the Right Technology
Since the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Internet of Things, technology has become synonymous with and indispensable to achieving desirable organizational outcomes. The right technology tools enable seamless access to accurate, real-time data about financials, procurement, inventory management, supply chain systems, administrative operations, and other business processes.
Such tools help business leaders to stay within budget, keep to production timelines and streamline business processes while effectively managing in-office, remote and hybrid workforces. This translates into higher levels of operational efficiency.
2. Embrace Automation
The pandemic disrupted supply chain processes across the globe. While economic activities are gradually returning to a state of normalcy, a lot of businesses are struggling to retain their competitiveness in the face of the forces disrupting their industries and marketplaces.
Automating repeatable work and day-to-day activities is a great way to improve overall operational efficiency. Not only does this speed up activities but it also removes the need for workers to perform mundane administrative duties. This frees them to focus on more value-added work such as customer care and order fulfillment.
Also, the process of automating tasks will require business leaders to holistically understand, document, analyze and review their internal processes – which delivers ancillary benefits and speeds up the journey towards achieving operational efficiency.
3. Provide Continuous Training & Upskilling Opportunities
Another proven strategy that can help organizations improve operational efficiency is offering continual training and upskilling opportunities to the workforce. No organization can achieve acceptable levels of operational efficiency without skilled employees. Educating workers on industry best practices and getting them trained on innovative processes, systems, and technology should be a constant for forward-looking companies.
The recent migration towards hybrid work also has opened up a wider talent pool for organizations across the globe. A company that offers career development resources or programs and shows a vested interest in the growth of its employees will lead the way when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. Additionally, hybrid work requires business leaders to change the ways teams work and deploy the right technology tools to ensure collaboration across geographically dispersed teams. Training in-office and remote employees to work seamlessly across digital channels, locations and timelines is a sure way to strategically improve operational performance.
4. Iterate, Measure, Repeat
Major organizational changes to systems and operational procedures can often disrupt productivity or lower employee morale, especially when such changes are implemented too quickly or with little data supporting them. It can be difficult to know how much overhauling or modifying traditional business processes will impact the quality of performance, deliverables, and production times.
Rather than institute major modifications to business processes, savvy business leaders use data to introduce changes on a smaller scale first and analyze the effects, monitor results, and make alterations where necessary to ensure an optimal strategy that yields the desired outcomes. Of course, as we’ve seen with the rapid shift to remote work during the pandemic, , there are instances where major changes have to be made quickly to avoid negative consequences.
For instance, a multinational professional services and real estate investment company was forced to rapidly and unexpectedly shift to remote work in response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. To help limit the adverse effects of such a major change, the company leveraged workplace analytics to help them understand the impact of remote work on the organization and its people and create a data-driven plan for a safe, eventual return to the physical office.
5. Measure the Right Metrics
Measuring and tracking the right metrics is a great way to test the effectiveness of strategies geared towards improving operational performance. Comparing an organization’s current performance against benchmarks makes it easier for business leaders to see how far they’ve come, discover patterns or trends that lead to success, and identify areas that require further improvement.
Also, analyzing and implementing insights gotten from consumer and employee feedback can help guide future operational improvement strategies. The above can be done with workplace analytics software which can help monitor the impacts of change, decisions, or initiatives on the organization and make continuous, data-driven improvements that benefit both your business and employees. Workplace analytics help companies drive better organizational outcomes by informing management, HR, and workplace decisions with speed and certainty.
6. Improve Workplace Collaboationon & Morale
It can be easy for business leaders to get lost in analyzing quantitative metrics, streamlining processes, and deploying new technology on the journey towards improving operational efficiency. However, boosting workplace morale, instituting a culture of effective collaboration, and encouraging strong relationships between individual employees and across teams are great ways to improve operational and organizational efficiency. Properly trained and incentivized employees are highly engaged at work and are more likely to complete tasks within schedule. Also, having satisfied, productive, and highly engaged long-term employees can ensure the long-term success of operational efficiency initiatives.
Improving operational efficiency requires a strategic approach geared towards refining organizational processes, updating processes, adjusting business operations, upgrading technology, and upskilling employees. The goal of the above is achieving kaizen – the continuous incremental improvement of all these aspects to boost productivity and deliver desired business objectives.
It’s important to note that improving operational efficiency is not a once-and-done initiative – it’s a continuous process of optimizing people, processes, technology, and financials. Such an approach will yield both quantitative gains (by cutting costs and boosting production levels) and qualitative benefits (higher customer satisfaction and a highly engaged workforce).