One of the simplest ways to increase your profits is simply to improve your business processes. This is an area that is often overlooked because even as businesses we tend to fall into routines and patterns, and it is easier to just do things how we have always done them without rethinking them.
However, with the increase in the availability of big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation, most businesses can benefit from evaluating their business processes and improving them.
What does this look like? Here are five ways to improve your business processes.
Businesses often talk of cutting costs, but many times they fail to look at some of the simplest ways to do so, and that is by reducing the cost of their business processes. This means taking a look at what you are doing through the lens of added value.
Essentially this means that anything that is not adding value to you, your employees, or your customers can be eliminated. This can include a number of things, including duplicate data entry, unnecessary printing, and clumsy communication chains with too many touchpoints.
Often the solution to these issues lies in simple automation programs, things like adding cloud computing capability and storage, automating data sharing, and even streamlining communication through project management applications and email automation.
A second common issue is risk management. This area goes far beyond preventing on the job injuries and security though. Many costly incidents including security breaches and manufacturing disasters come about through human error. There are many ways to manage risk through automation, the IoT, and artificial intelligence.
For example, the automated robot arm that assembles widget “x” has a tolerance for error of .001” for a certain component placement. Through the IoT, a sensor shows that the placement is now .0015”. Artificial intelligence can tell the conveyor delivering parts to slow fractionally, and measurements can be taken until placement is back within specifications.
Through machine learning, the system has learned that a certain belt speed was no longer ideal and was automatically adjusted to bring specifications back in the desired range. There was no need for human contact other than possibly an alert in case automated efforts did not work, and the risk of human error and overcorrection of the problem resulting in possible lost production time was avoided.
This is just one way that process improvement and automation can help your company avoid risk and increase profits.
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K.I.S. Your Process
Despite all the amazing technology we have at our fingertips, it is vital to streamline and simplify your process as much as possible. Not only does this relate to reducing risks and removing tasks that have no real value, but it also involves taking a close look at steps that can be bundled and workflows that can be shortened.
In the area of communication, this can be something as simple as having emails delivered to certain individuals or departments based on subject lines or even availability. The simpler the process and the more efficient it is, the less likely it is that communications will be lost or tasks remain undone.
This is just one example of the keep it simple (K.I.S.) principle that can be applied to your business processes universally.
Fix Friction Points
Even if you cannot see them, your employees probably know where you have friction points in your business processes. These can be tasks that slow them down, have too many unnecessary steps, or keep them from moving forward with a project.
For example, if you have an approval process for certain tasks, take an example from the K.I.S. process and make the process faster with fewer contacts needed. Then employees will not be stuck in a holding pattern.
This applies to your customer processes as well, like online checkout and shipping options. Fixing and ideally eliminating as many friction points as possible makes for not only happier employees but often more satisfied customers as well.
Measure and Analyze
The final way to improve your business processes? Constant analysis and measurement. How will you know how you are doing if you don’t have measurable goals? The truth is that you won’t, and if you don’t pay attention to when things start to improve, you won’t know that what you are doing is working or what triggered the improvement.
This is why automation where possible is so important. In order to automate a process, there must be measurement tools in place, and that data can be used to determine if desired outcomes are being reached. If not, it is easy to determine if efficiencies are headed in the right direction, have plateaued for some reason, or are even headed downward and require a new strategy.
While this may sound a bit complex and you may think your business is doing fine, it never hurts to take a second look at your processes. Here at SixtySixTen, we don’t just offer cookie cutter automation solutions. We offer custom tailored business automation solutions using artificial intelligence that are easy to implement and scale. Ready to take your business to the next level? Set up your free consultation with our experts today.