Optimization Prime — Business Edition: Part 7 of 7
“Do not forget what you have learned of our past… From its lessons, the future is forged.” — Optimus Prime
Our futures in content, websites, conversions, SEO, marketing, and SMO, can all be learned from our past. Through our mistakes or successes—the future can be forged.
And with that, comes our final edition from the Optimization Prime series—business.
Business operations, for any company, can always be improved. In today’s competitive and fast-moving landscape, effectiveness and efficiency are critical. It can either make you or break you. With your organization in a state of constant competition, disruptive technologies, and changing norms, businesses require all available resources to hit the next stage of growth and be prepared to manage threats from other companies.
What is Business Optimization?
Business optimization is the process of measuring the efficiency, productivity, and performance of a business and finding ways to improve those measures. Business optimization is considered a cornerstone of business management and parallels the process of all optimization efforts—a continual loop of measure, improve, measure again. Optimizing your business offers many benefits to prepare you to ride the tidal wave of change:
• Lean and streamlined operations
• Reduction in potential risks
• Improved and assured quality
• Well-aligned resources
The Business Optimization Approach
Before jumping into the process, let’s look at the approach. Do not optimize your business merely to fix the sporadic problems. Use a strategy to address different aspects of your overall operations systemically. Here are five different strategies that can help shake loose your business operations and free up resources that you could better use elsewhere.
1. Go Lean: If you aren’t aware of ‘lean’, it is an operational philosophy that focused on continual improvement to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Implement processes that add value, and ditch those that do not; you can become more efficient.
2. Quality, not Quantity: Focus on reducing waste and rework; it will save your business money in the process, improve your results, and make the company more effective.
3. Improve Forecasting: A crutch in many businesses is forecasting. Whether it's ordering too much product, too little product, or not having enough employees to keep up with service demand, being unprepared to meet market demand can cause waste. Invest in sophisticated tools and extensive knowledge available to improve forecasting across all areas of your business.
4. Be User-Focused: User experience, User-centric, or User-focused. It’s the approach for not only design and marketing, but now business. A customer-centric approach to business is incredibly efficient. Focus operations and strategy to embrace customers and make them happy.
5. Try Some Good Ol’ Fashioned Business-Process Reengineering: A while ago, business optimization was known as business process reengineering. Some would say it was just another ‘fad’. However, here we are now, and it hasn’t lost its benefits. Just as businesses evolve, so do processes. By truly reengineering, companies can pinpoint the wasteful processes concerning how they do business and develop more effective procedures. A top tip: get frontline employees involved. Their direct experience is valuable, and they are a capsule of excellent knowledge.
Proper planning is essential to make the most out of your business optimization efforts. To reinforce our sentiment above, do not ad-hoc, and choose the most sporadic area to optimize. Carefully identify, analyze, and implement in a strategic manner. Once you have a proper plan in place, then follow this step-by-step guide to help you optimize your business.
Step 1 — Identify
Once you have a plan of attack, identify which area of your business you want to overhaul. Define the purpose and goals by asking yourself these questions:
• What is the goal or desired outcome of this process?
• When does the process begin and end?
• What activities move the process forward?
• What departments and employees are involved?
• What information is being transferred between steps?
Step 2 — Analyze and Rethink
Analyze the specific issue in more detail and ask yourself if this area is meeting your desired goals? This should clearly reveal the areas in which you can improve, as well as where the cut down of excess wastage needs to occur. Think to yourself:
• Where are the stalls, and why?
• When do errors occur?
• How many hours does it take?
• Of those hours, how many are spent doing redundant or extraneous work?
• Is there somewhat to automate?
Step 3 — Implement
Once you’ve separated the essential from the non-essential, it’s time to implement. When you get rid of unnecessary elements, implement and automate the revised process in its new form.
Step 4 — Monitor and Learn
Take a micro and macro look at process performance and fine-tune it until you get desired results. Possibly repeat best practices or learn from other companies or departments how they optimized their business.
What do I Optimize?
Armed with the approach, and the process - what do you optimize in your business. A couple of areas include:
• Customer Satisfaction
Eleven Inspiring Hacks to Business Optimization
1. Uncover Inefficient Work Processes: Outdated, inefficient business processes and frameworks can slow down an employee and business productivity.
2. Measure the Right Metrics: Track analytics and KPIs that matter to your business.
3. Streamline Software and Tools: Reduce what you have and find the best tools. Ask employees to make a list of tools they actually need and eliminate the rest and explore multi-feature software solutions.
4. Measure ALL the ROI: on all your process, and across your business, not just on campaigns or your marketing.
5. Outsource and Delegate: Don’t go at it alone. Ask for help and look to those who may have more knowledge and expertise.
6. Automate Simple Business Processes: Save time and money by automating straightforward business processes.
7. More Organizing, fewer Meetings: Ever had a meeting to talk about the meeting? We all have. Try and cut your meetings by half and see what happens!
8. Prioritize Your Tasks: Outline your top three tasks to complete that day and make sure you get them done!
9. Optimize your Work Environment: Find your best working environment! Remote? Half Remote? Get rid of those open-concept offices as they dramatically reduce productivity!
10. Become a Focus Master: Evaluate your productivity level and when you can do your best work. Use simple hacks such as planning ahead, create a weekly work plan, and reduce as many distractions! And remember to take small, 15-minute breaks.
11. Optimize the Teams Time Usage: Get your company to R.O.W.E. by becoming a Results Oriented Work Environment. Focus on deliverables and allow employees to work when they are most productive.
Marked with best practices, top tips, processes, and approaches, do you know what results you can get with optimization?
“Time to find out. Autobots, roll out!”
Catch up with our Optimization Prime series:
Lynette Sawyer is a Web Project Manager for Falcon-Software, a digital web agency founded in 1994. For the last 13-years Lynette has been in various digital capacities and her expertise goes beyond Project Management. Lynette brings experience and knowledge in graphic design, marketing communications, project management, product management and engagement.