Every business will suffer some setbacks. Important deliveries show up late, employees get sick, computers die; basically, life intervenes. That doesn’t mean that businesses can’t take steps to up their efficiency game. There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of tools designed to help your business be more efficient. Here are three worth exploring.
Sharing documents and files is, in many ways, the bane of the modern workplace. While email attachments are fine when it’s just two people trading revised versions of a document, what happens when a six-person team needs to access and revise a document? It turns into a logistical nightmare and massive time sink for everyone. The problem of sharing files becomes increasingly difficult to manage if your business operates at more than one location or in more than one country.
Document/file-sharing services such as Dropbox or Google Drive offer a clean and cost-effective solution. As a rule, the files are synced in real-time and available to everyone at all times. This eliminates time lost looking for files or looking for the most recent version of a file. Employees spend their time working, rather than trying to get to the point that they can start working.
Ready-made software solutions are often the salvation of a business, but not always. Certain businesses or even industries have special requirements that make off-the-shelf software unusable for their needs. Nonprofit organizations, for example, have special accounting needs that standard software packages can’t handle. So, software company Blackbaud sells accounting software specifically built to service non-profit organizations.
In other cases, such as construction material supply, the logistics of maintaining sufficient stock, delivery schedules and sales records are mind-boggling. It could take half-a-dozen programs, which may or may not talk to each other, to keep track of all that data. Software designed for the construction supply industry, which centralizes data and processes, would drastically improve efficiency and organization in the business. It’s safe to say that if building materials software exists, there is almost definitely a software for your specific industry. Before you invest in multiple software packages, it may be worth the time to see if an industry-specific package that covers all your needs already exists.
For businesses involved in manufacturing or any other process-intensive field, adopting a lean model can offer a significant boost in efficiency. While there are many systems to choose from, each with a particular focus, they all share common features. Lean models encourage continuous improvement through an active feedback loop. Employees note places in processes where unnecessary steps occur, or unnecessary waste is generated, and report them. The business then takes steps to eliminate these inefficiencies.
It’s important to note that inefficiencies can range from the product assembly order to the layout of the workspace. For example, say a business occupies a two-story building. The offices and printers are all on the second floor, but the office supply closet is on the first floor. Employees must go downstairs any time they need more printer paper. The total time spent might seem negligible day-to-day, but it adds up to hours of lost working time over the course of a year. Moving the supply closet upstairs resolves the issue.
In many cases, creating a more efficient business means eliminating obstacles that impede employee productivity. This may translate into providing a practical file sharing application, so they can focus on the job at hand. In other cases, it means using a specialty software that was built to serve your industry. This allows employees to do the work, rather than transitioning between programs all day. It may just come down to making numerous small changes that streamline processes. Whatever approach you take, any efficiency boost is a win for your business.