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Focus on key areas to improve business process

The path to improve business process leads to greater efficiency, productivity and profitability. Business process improvement may sound hard to do but it’s not – this article shows you how to do it.

There’s a reason we find a lot of ideas describing ways to improve business process. That’s because it’s an area where many businesses go wrong.

Often, businesses overcomplicate what should be very straightforward. You can see that in this in these terms:

  • KISS – Keep it simple, stupid
  • Reduce the noise – that’s all the things that can distract you from completing the task in hand to the best of your ability
  • Shiny object syndrome – when you are continually distracted from what you are doing, jump from one thing to another and don’t get jobs completed
  • The busy fool – someone who appears to be highly productive but is wasting time doing work that isn’t achieving anything

Many areas benefit from using business improvement tools. These include having a performance improvement plan for sales and ways to improve sales lead generation. Also, you can use a business process to improve lead management.

How you improve business process will depend on your trade. You could start with the areas that give you the biggest headaches.

Before we look at ways to improve business process, let’s see what tradespeople are often up against.

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Challenges tradespeople face to improve business process

How to improve business process is easier said than done, you might think. But tradespeople who are sole traders or a small business often have to wear lots of hats.

You’re the project manager, sales director, finance director and in charge of recruitment. That’s what it takes to run a successful business. You’re juggling balls and spinning plates all at the same time. While constantly swapping business hats.

And it’s not just about business. The much talked about ‘work/life balance’ should be an important consideration for any tradesperson.

Get the balance right and both work and business benefit. If you can improve business process, then you’re on your way to a better balance.

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The good news is that you don’t have to be an Albert Einstein to find the answer.

Ways to improve business process are usually quite simple. You just need to spend a bit of time at the start thinking things through.

In fact, Einstein himself is thought to have said: “If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.”

What is a business process?

It’s business-speak for how you do things. Importantly, it is usually something you repeat regularly. That means it will benefit immediately and constantly if you can improve the business process.

An overlapping business approach is to have a standard operating procedure. These can also help tradespeople to be better organised and productive.

Benefits if you improve business process

Once you’ve cracked the best business process for various areas of what you do, the benefits should flow. They include:

Areas where you can improve business process

Business improvement examples will depend on your trade. These are some of the main business areas where a strong process can give you a boost.

Align business processes with your business goals

A useful way to focus on your most important business processes is to align them with your business goals. These could include:

  • Increasing profits
  • Reducing costs
  • Improving customer satisfaction levels
  • Increasing staff satisfaction

Steps to improve business process

There are plenty of business improvement tools available, many are software products that you can find online. Some are well-established and very detailed management processes aimed at large organisations.

For tradespeople and small business, a simple approach could cover the following.

What’s the problem?

Work out what is causing you grief at work. No work process is too small or insignificant that it can’t be improved.

Ask a lot of ‘why?’ questions:

  • Why did this happen?
  • Why didn’t a job go to plan?
  • Why wasn’t my customer happy?
  • Why did it take so long for materials to arrive?
  • Why is this bill so high?

For some tradespeople, finding new business is a constant challenge. It’s an area that could benefit from an improvement plan for sales. A strong and consistent process can help to improve sales lead generation and improve lead management.

How do you currently do things?

Once you’ve decided on what you want to improve, look at how you currently do it. It’s easy to fall into bad habits and constantly follow a process that doesn’t really work for you.

Writing down all the steps involved in the thing causing problems will help you spot the weaknesses.

What’s a better way of doing it?

Now you have identified what you are doing wrong you can think about what needs to change. Ask colleagues or employees exactly how they do things.

Speak with other tradespeople who have gone through a similar experience. They could share tips with you.

You can learn from what they are doing. As they say, there’s no point reinventing the wheel.

Think about automating some or all of a process. You can use Word or Excel, text messages or emails. Automating parts or all of a process can make it:

  • Faster
  • More accurate
  • Easier to repeat consistently

Map out your new business process

  • Remember to write down every step. Don’t keep it in your head. That won’t help you to keep processes consistent. And it won’t help anyone else you expect to follow your process
  • Keep it simple. Try and describe a process in as few steps as possible. That will make it easier to follow
  • Think about using diagrams and graphics instead of keeping it all in writing. A visual version of a process can be easier to understand and follow
  • Think about including a checklist in your new process. Checklists that cover each action in a process in order can prevent you from moving on to the next before completing the previous action

Try the new way of doing things and see how it works

This is a crucial part of how you improve business process. It might look good on paper but will it work how you want it to in practice?

Testing out a business process should highlight anything that isn’t yet quite right. After all, we’re talking about making improvements. And improvement is often a continuous process.

Make further changes and improvements to the new process

This is your opportunity for fine-tuning a business process. Now it has been road-tested and possibly tweaked, you should be ready to roll out it.

Regularly review the new process

As we’ve said, business improvement should be a continuous process. You’ll always be able to find even better ways of doing things.

You also need to account for business life constantly changing. This could mean your process may need to improve regularly.

Examples are changes in rules and regulations affecting your trade. Advances in technology and work techniques are other areas where remembering to improve business process is important.

FAQs

Why is it important to improve business process?

When you improve business process you should become more efficient, productive and profitable. It can also boost your work/life balance.

What are business process improvement examples?

Almost every aspect of a business can be improved with a strong process. This includes dealing with customers and staff, preparing quotes, contracts and invoices, and handling work projects more effectively.

What is a good performance improvement plan for sales?

Finding ways to improve sales lead generation and to improve lead management could focus on keeping accurate records of possible prospects. A plan could also identify where demand for your trade is highest and how best to engage with customers.

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