Organizations are in a constant battle with themselves to continuously improve their operational performance, customer experience, and overall profitability, though they may not realize it. Organizations typically focus on outside competitors, getting distracted by what is going on outside of their control. The real battle actually happens within the organization. Within each department, each process, system or lack thereof determines a higher profitability, a better customer experience, a higher quality service or product. Not dealing with these internal processes can cause significant damage to an organization.
There are three areas that an organization can assess quickly to understand where excess money is being spent: Processes, Systems in Place, Time Spent. Let’s review each operational performance area in further detail.
Process is a term that gets thrown around quite often, but not documented nearly enough. A department or team may talk to a process, with a verbal understanding of the steps to completion. If you were to write down the verbal steps, then measure against the team performing them from memory, how do you think it would score?
Processes are meant to be written down. Processes are meant to be measured. Processes are meant to be continuously improved. Operations depend on a continuously improved process. The organization depends on a continuously improved process to out-perform their competitors.
Processes are not meant to be shared publicly or with competitors. In the highly competitive market of consulting, a firm’s processes with commercial grade, industry standard tools should be kept close, as it is part of what helps the firm achieve a higher quality product in a shorter amount of time, beating out their competitors at a lower price. If the processes are shared amongst competitors, then it is a race to the bottom on who can hire the best technicians to perform at the highest level.
Systems in Place
Systems are a step up from processes. Systems could be using software to automate a portion of tasks in order to develop consistency and accuracy, along with a personal touch. A template could be thought of as a simple system. The framework and basics are in place. Scripts are set, calculations and algorithms are in place and used for certain specific pieces of the content. This reduces time to completion and allows for a consistent, high quality end product.
Systems can also become more complex. Systems such as an organization’s network and combining cloud applications in order to automate mundane tasks can save time and money in the long run.
An example could be that a firm provides a video-coaching service online. They use ScheduleOnce to allow the client to book an appointment and pay ahead of time. They can also combine ScheduleOnce with Webex to create a seamless experience. When combined, ScheduleOnce and Webex work hand in hand to deliver one email that will be sent to the client, confirming the appointment and providing details for the video call. Combining these two applications with an auto responder email series sets up further automation and saves a crucial amount of time.
In the two areas above, time has been a common theme. In the service industry, time is a big factor, as many of the tasks are people dependent. By developing efficient processes and systems, time can be reduced considerably while increasing the overall employee and client experience.
Here is a simple challenge: add up all of the time spent performing admin tasks that you think could be automated or maybe altogether eliminated. Then figure out how much those hours cost in terms of paying an employee or team of employees to complete. Take that rough number and compare it to the cost of setting up systems such as ScheduleOnce and Webex.
We all want to free up time. Time is the one thing we can’t get back. By improving efficiencies, implementing processes and systems, and increasing profitability, we get more time back. More time to work with our clients one on one. More time to spend doing our strengths-based work. More time to take off and relax. We also give time back to our employees, which increasing their quality of life. Processes and systems are not about eliminating jobs, but about eliminating waste. There’s no need to take twenty steps to complete something that could be done in ten or even five. There’s no need to be wracking our brains to manually complete tasks that an automated piece of software can handle.
The way to become more profitable is not necessarily by gaining more clients. The way to become profitable is by looking inside your operations, analyzing current processes and systems, then overhauling them to become even more efficient.
Another version of this article was first published on LinkedIn.