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As both your business and industry evolve, you may be wondering if it’s time to evolve your business practices as well. A thorough review of your processes can help you define what you’re currently doing, identify areas of strength and potential improvement and guide you toward future solutions.
As industry leaders, the members of Forbes Business Council are constantly evaluating their company’s procedures and finding ways to streamline them. We asked them to share some tips for reviewing business processes. Follow these 13 strategies to analyze your operations and ensure they still make sense for your current circumstances and goals.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
1. Imagine Doubling Your Output
Set a regular challenge for yourself and your team to imagine this: if we had to double what we are doing right now, how would we do it and how would our current processes support that? That will automatically pressure test if your processes have been documented, understood and are easily transferable and repeatable to achieve scale and growth. It will also build a discipline of constant improvement. – Kyle Hermans, Be Courageous
2. Adopt Objective And Key Results Models
OKR models start with business objectives and then cascade into department, team and individual objectives and expected outcomes. The “why” and “what” are defined while the “how” is left to the teams/employees, empowering them. Leveraging an OKRs dashboard for updates and reviews provides insight on what is working and isn’t, thereby creating an environment for a pivot, persevere or pull discussion. – Karthik Krishnan, Britannica Group
3. Look At It Through The Lens Of Profitability
As leaders review processes to help weather the crisis, profitability has to be the first objective. While there seems to be a negative stigma around the concept of business profitability, if small businesses are not profitable, they can’t keep people employed, fulfill their contracts and ultimately keep their portion of the supply chain moving. – Andy Rodosevich, Hemp Depot
4. Go Back To Your Core Strengths
Get into a laser-focus mode when it comes to your products, services or operations. Go back to your core strengths when it comes to your employees. If engineering is your strength, it’s not the product that you have been producing that matters. Your engineering strength should allow you to be able to come up with new products in a differentiating market. Big companies do that, so why can’t small businesses do it too? – Syed Gilani, Safr Technologies Inc
5. Be Comfortable With Discomfort
We are creatures of habit and organizations are no different. Unless we are intentional about rooting out inefficiencies, we become prisoners to the process. Ask yourself what does this process serve? Is it still relevant? Is it optimized? What steps can be eliminated or streamlined? Are there manual, redundant or unnecessary steps? How can technology and automation help? Change is the only constant. – Scott Amyx, Amyx Ventures
6. Implement A Continuous Improvement Mindset
Implement within your organization a continuous improvement mindset whereby everyone contributes to reassess processes, outcomes and evolving business needs on a monthly basis. Things can shift fast in many industries, and agility today can become key to your future success. Involving everyone across the organization is important to overcome blindspots and to truly empower your teams. – Andreea Vanacker, SPARKX5
7. Communicate With Your Team
While you may need to lead the efforts to adapt and change directions, this is not something that should only involve yourself. Bring the rest of the team into the discussion and see where you can go from there. Communication is always the key. – Dawn Brown, MD, ADHD Wellness Center PLLC
8. Set Success Merit And Discussion Panels
While working on a process, set up a target and analyze it weekly or monthly if you have attained good measurements. Conducting discussion panels along with the bottom of all variants will help you to identify what goes right and what goes wrong. Conversing and building a rapport with each worker, even bottom line workers, will help you review your process and rectify issues effectively. – Kiara Cancer, Extraordinary Headhunters LLC
9. Ask For Suggestions
Does your workflow need a redesign? Your employees probably know the answer. You see the numbers, but you may not know exactly how you get there. Ask your team for their opinions and suggestions on how the company can do better. Review submissions weekly and once or twice a year (depending on engagement and the severity of the issues raised) set up a meeting to brainstorm solutions. – Heather Newman, Content Panda/Creative Maven
10. Make Time For Feedback
Set aside time for your team to share how efficient current processes are. This could be one-on-one meetings or a group meeting with different departments, but making time on a regular basis will help you proactively detect issues before they affect your bottom line. It allows you to set new protocols with your team and adjust accordingly. – Beth Worthy, GMR Transcription Services, Inc
11. Review Your Outcomes
Starting with your outcomes will tell you a lot about whether or not the process is working. If you see the need for changes, gather input from those closest to the work first. Then, apply friction (things like delays, access or permissions) for things you want less of. Reduce friction (give access, improve tools or skip steps) for things you want more of. – Amanda Daering, Newance
12. Create Checks And Balance
Now more than ever there is an opportunity to optimize each process and define each role. By using a system like Basecamp, you can set up all the weekly tasks and get employees to set the due date. If they are continually missing the deadlines, then you can either replace them or work on the deadline set. Either way, the use of technology helps keep delivery in line. – Michael Mayes, Quantum 9 Inc.
13. Focus On Trackable Accountability
At the end of the day, we’re all accountable. I like to lead by example and make myself just as accountable as my employees are. I’ve found that by using the right systems, we can track employee progress as well as have the means to review processes, target due dates and accountability. This has helped us immeasurably and aids any endeavor. – Chris Cashin, Parcel Consulting, LLC