Streamlining processes: An overview
Streamlining processes involves improving ways of working to obtain optimal results. This can involve anything from employee recruitment and onboarding to managing your supply chain and manufacturing processes.
It’s very likely your business depends on a number of key processes. Identifying which processes could be optimised is key to streamlining your efficiency. By using integrated solutions such as process automation of key workflows, you can discover how to maximise results.
Streamlining processes: an overview
When streamlining processes, businesses analyse the nature and order of tasks to make a process faster, easier and more effective.
The goal is to remove or replace:
duplicate tasks and unnecessary steps
steps that waste time or resources
opportunities for error
manual tasks you can automate.
Why you should streamline processes
Manage time better
Eliminating unnecessary tasks, automating menial jobs and simplifying time-intensive steps frees up time to complete other work. When employees manage time better, they improve productivity.
With fewer tasks, you minimise errors and can reduce the risk of security breaches. For example, streamlining processes for securing customer data, financial records or other confidential information reduces the risk of data theft.
Reduce response times
Streamlining and documenting processes also helps teams work faster. For example, if you improve your process for handling customer complaints, your customer service team can easily identify what steps to take, without having to wait for input from managers.
When businesses automate tasks to streamline a process, employees and customers can get instant notifications that keep them better informed.
How to identify inefficient processes
Gather necessary data
List your daily processes, then evaluate their importance to determine which to streamline first.
To do so, ask these questions:
Will improving the process increase revenue or decrease costs?
Does the process impact customers or clients?
Does it yield the desired outcome?
Will improving this process help increase staff productivity?
After you have arranged the list of processes from most important to least important, determine the purpose of the process, the people involved, and the existing steps.
Analyse the data and identify bottlenecks
Once you have documented the existing processes, analyse each step:
How much time does the step take?
Can you complete it faster another way?
Does the right person perform it?
Is there room for error?
Is it a redundant task?
Can you remove the step?
Can you combine two steps?
Can you complete the task more cost-effectively?
Can you automate the task?
Asking these questions about each step helps identify bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement.
After determining which parts of the process don’t work, brainstorm ways to fix them. Discuss ideas with the people responsible for the process and agree on the best solution.
Once you choose the best way to move forward, document your innovation strategy.
Test the solutions
A streamlined process may not work the way you imagine, so test it and make adjustments if needed.
5 tips on how to streamline processes
1. Automate menial tasks
Automating menial tasks speeds up a process and reduces the chance of errors.
Using a spreadsheet to track and manage business data requires time-consuming manual updates, and data entry errors can cause inaccurate reporting.
Using digital tools to automate this process saves time and ensures data is correct.
2. Use technology
Here are two examples of how Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software can help simplify and improve processes:
An ERP platform can bring together accounting, financial reporting, sales and operations. It can also manage the complex payroll of a growing business.
An ERP system can help a field service company automate service management, equipment management, warranty tracking, service contract management and mobile service management.
ERP systems are also ideal for streamlining business processes like inventory, customer lifecycle management and data analysis.
3. Monitor performance
After your new, streamlined process is in place, monitor it to make sure it works as planned and is an improvement over the previous method. Reviewing processes periodically allows you to refine and improve them.
4. Outsource tasks
Outsourcing is a good idea if:
It speeds up the completion of a task.
The team member executing the task could focus on higher-value work.
Completing the task internally costs more than outsourcing it.
An outside party can do the task better or with greater accuracy.
5. Communicate effectively
While streamlining processes, get feedback from all staff involved.
They’ll know which changes will work best and can provide a perspective you may not have considered. Once the new process is in place, communicate how it will work and provide an outlet for questions and concerns.
Streamline your business processes with MYOB
The MYOB business management platform allows you to optimise and automate your business processes across all your core workflows — accounting and tax, finance, customers, projects, suppliers and employees.
With best practice business processes built into the platform, you can maximise your operational efficiency quickly and easily, without having the complexity of re-designing each and every process yourself. Unleash your business’ potential with MYOB.