Small businesses often go through growing pains as they expand their operations, and this is generally considered to be an auspicious sign that the company is headed in the right direction. There comes a time, however, when your company may exhibit signs of growing in disarray; if you feel that your business is becoming bloated, you may want to audit your departments and workflow processes to determine whether the distension of the company is impacting the bottom line.
It is not difficult for a growing company to strain under its own weight, particularly when it is expanding at a pace that was underestimated in the initial business plan. When this happens, companies tend to chug along as the expenses grow and the demand gradually increases. To remedy such situations, you should adopt a mindset of streamlining. Here are five solutions you can apply in your company for the purpose of streamlining departments and becoming a leaner and more efficient business operation.
Streamline Your Organizational Structure
You should start by evaluating the way your company has been structured since it began operating. How much control do you have over the entire operation? If you have a tight grip on what every department does, you should strongly consider giving some autonomy to managers and employees who seem to be efficient when they work independently.
You should also take a close look at potential barriers that may prevent you from streamlining; if you have created a company that follows too many rules and operational manuals, you should strongly consider consolidating processes. In essence, your organizational structure should be flexible; if you run an auto repair shop, your managers should be trusted to solve customer service issues, order parts, and schedule safety training sessions for technicians.
Root Cause Analysis
A major aspect of streamlining involves problem solving. If you are unsure about the reasons why some of your departments fail to perform to their full potential, you can apply root cause analysis, which starts with an investigation as to what happens, why it happens and how it can be prevented in the future. Root cause analysis boils down to determining if the cause is human, environmental, technical, or organizational.
Business Process Outsourcing
When streamlining your business, your focus should always be on your customers. When you start out small, your key employees are usually able to handle all customer service functions; as your business grows, however, you need to start thinking about collaborating with a call center because customers love being able to contact support specialists at their convenience. These days, you can quickly deploy inbound call center solutions without having to go offshore.
If you have not done this already, you are missing out on a wonderful way of doing business. Up until the late 20th century, paper served a very important purpose in the enterprise world, but the time has come to retire it completely.
Paper dependency is a barrier to streamlining; if you are still using paper in your company, you should begin the process of going paperless by following the trail created by paperwork. Along the way, you should be asking yourself whether the information that is conveyed by the paper can be stored, communicated and organized in digital format instead.
Streamlining Your IT Department
Instead of following the old client/server model of business computing, you should put as much of your digital infrastructure in the cloud. This means spending less on hardware and equipment; furthermore, it also allows you to reduce payroll obligations since you will not need to keep a fully staffed IT department. From Software as a Service to virtual desktops, embracing the cloud computing paradigm will help you streamline your operations and make them more efficient.
In the end, streamlining your operations and departments will be the most important actions you should take as your business grows and becomes more lucrative.