Do you remember the classic scene from Office Space where Tom is being interviewed by The Bobs and he explains that his job is to take customer complaints to the software engineers? One of the Bobs asks why the customers couldn’t bring those complaints directly to the software people and the other asks, “What would you say….you do here?”
The scene is hilarious but also brings up a valid point: businesses that aren’t streamlined can waste thousands or even millions of dollars every year by having employees with duplicate functions or other inefficiencies. According to market research firms, 20 to 30 percent of revenue is lost by companies every year due to a lack of streamlining.
Here are a few tips to streamline your business and get higher value out of lower overhead costs.
Synergy is a term often used with mergers and acquisitions to describe two companies coming together and the new unit being more than the sum of its parts. However, it can also be used within a single company to refer to cooperation and streamlining between departments.
Examples include making sure that each department communicates well with the others, tasks are delegated to the correct departments with minimal overlap, and ensuring that all data is accessible to every department, within reason. If someone in the engineering department has to spend an hour tracking down information that accounts receivable can’t or won’t release to them, productivity will suffer as a result.
Waste Reduction Programs
Another popular strategy is to use a program like Lean Six Sigma to identify and correct process inefficiencies at work. It is a combination of two existing programs, namely Lean Management and Six Sigma. The goal is to reduce spending by streamlining processes and removing unnecessary steps or hindrances that cause waste or make work more difficult.
According to public documents from 2001 to 2021, Fortune 500 companies saved an estimated $427 billion by using Six Sigma to streamline processes and reduce waste. A few employees taking a few weeks to get the certification and the assistance of a Six Sigma Black Belt can help nearly every business around the world, provided the company is committed to following through with the recommendations.
Maintain Uniformity with Workplace Technology
An easy streamlining procedure that may seem obvious but is often overlooked is ensuring that every department is using the same equipment and the same versions of the same software. For example, imagine a company where employees are required to use their personal cell phones as part of their job duties. If 60% of these employees are using iPhones and 40% use Android, it can create problems. Company-issued phones for everyone could eliminate those issues.
Another example would be a company with two separate office buildings and doesn’t have a standardized VoIP phone system for business. One building uses traditional landlines and the other uses VoIP. This may not have a big effect on employees, but the company will be paying two separate companies for phone service and, generally speaking, more money for the landlines than VoIP. Moving everyone over to VoIP would save the company money in the long run.
Everyone Should Be on the Same Page
This one seems a little obvious but many projects and companies have failed their objectives because not everyone involved was on the same page. If a project leader and their assistant or their supervisor (sometimes even both!) can’t agree on certain aspects of how the project should be done or even what the project’s primary objective should be, employees could become confused, demotivated, or even start working towards opposite goals.
Company and project goals should be expressed plainly so that everyone understands what they’re working towards. If you’re using email for business communication, good email practices should be followed, like CC’ing everyone that needs to be included. Deadlines should be made clear to everyone involved and employee feedback should be taken into account as well. A project could be perfectly planned out with all members of management in agreement on the particulars, but if the employees determine that the amount of work can’t be completed by the deadline, the project could be doomed to failure.
These are just a few examples of the way that businesses can save themselves money in the long term by streamlining procedures and equipment. If everyone is using the same technology, has access to the same data, and all departments can work efficiently and cooperatively with one another, not only will employees be happier but overall costs will be reduced.