Companies that want to succeed must continually strive to improve and streamline their operations. For many businesses, the first place they might look for improvement opportunities is their marketing or teams’ procedures.
However, there are a few key areas that leaders might forget to examine. That’s why we asked the members of Forbes Business Council which areas are most often overlooked when companies seek to improve operations.
1. What To Stop Doing
When we come into a company to improve operations quickly, the first thing that we look at is what to cut out! Most companies have too many moving pieces and they think the path to growth is by doing “more.” We do the opposite. There are a few things that matter (and most things that don’t!), so it’s about figuring out what is really necessary and focusing on that makes things way easier or better. – Austin Netzley, 2X
2. Financial Operations And Systems
We see financial operations and systems consistently being the last on the list. We look at the financial reporting systems as the beating heart of an organization. When done well and delivered consistently there is no better way to measure the progress of all areas of your business. – Jeanne Hardy, Creative Business Inc.
3. Impact On Lower-Level Employees
Oftentimes organizational changes, especially in the realm of operational transformations, are executed using “top-down” approach. The leadership team pushes the changes down to the lower levels of the organization without involving any of the impacted personnel in the decision-making process. It is a huge oversight that prevents companies from breeding substantial positive results. – Nionila Ivanova, IT Creative Labs
4. Leaders’ Quality Of Work
Making sure that all your senior team members are doing their jobs properly and giving their support members all the tools they need to succeed is imperative. It’s easy to look to blame non-senior members; it’s harder to accept when supervisors and COOs aren’t carrying their weight, but you need to be honest with yourself and make sure you have the right people in place, starting from the top. – Hoda Mahmoodzadegan, BAḴT Global
5. Feedback From The Whole Team
Improving operations always includes change and with it comes the discomfort of altering someone’s day-to-day. This can make team members uncomfortable or resistant. Including your team at all levels—in the process, making it part of everyone’s responsibility and rewarding for forward-thinking—will drive the improvement from within. This will create a culture of true continuous improvement. – Kim DeLine, Elevate K-12
Corporate culture should be aligned with corporate goals and strategy. Lots of workers show up and perform their job duties, but a loyal employee with a strong sense of culture will do whatever it takes to get the job done to the best of their ability. The latter is what is most valuable to a company. – Dawn Massa Stancavish, Massa Products Corporation
7. IT, Data And Security
For B2B companies, supply chain and compliance are essential in the contracting process. For B2C companies, compliance with individual data rights and privacy regulations are becoming more commonplace. A company that does not properly streamline, document and track operations will suffer both fines and significant delays as they clean up and restore operations after breaches. – Vishaal Hariprasad, Arceo.ai
8. Consensus From Senior Leadership
One of the most important areas that can be overlooked when improving operations is consensus from senior leadership. They will set the direction for the proposed changes and serve as advocates for improved processes. The staff will look to them to gauge their reaction and enthusiasm for any restructuring, so it is imperative that the message they convey is consistent across the board. – Susan Levine, Career Group Companies
9. Communication Between Team Members
The root of any successful operation is the effective communication between team members. Most companies focus on the talent but completely ignore the importance of communication in every aspect of its operations, which results in failure. If goals, strategies and associated tasks are not properly communicated, operations usually do not yield ideal outcomes. – Syed Gilani, Safr Technologies Inc
10. Whether You Have The Right People In The Right Seat
If the wrong person is in the seat, the improvement will not, and can not, happen. The people leading the improvement need to understand the expectations and get it, want it and have the capacity for it. If these elements are missing, then the project will likely fail. If the right person is in the right seat, watch out—the sky is the limit on these types of projects! – Uri Thatcher, TouchUpDirect LLC
11. Data Organization
Most people tend to overlook the importance of organizing data to gain insights and automating workflows for efficiency. Outlining a clear and specific strategy for collecting, cleaning, organizing and managing data can help in saving your precious time that you could use elsewhere to help you move forward with your goals. – Beth Worthy, GMR Transcription Services Inc.
12. Technology Integration
Many companies think of their department as silos to build. The best way to create seamless ties is by using technology to link sales to marketing to accounting. With one seamless system, you can track, manage and optimize while streamlining everything. I think most companies and leaders are smart and overlook very little; I think it’s the intangible interconnectivity that is overlooked. – Michael Mayes, Quantum 9 Inc.
13. Customer Service And Support
Customer service and support are often overlooked, as it takes a back seat to almost every other department in the normal course of business. This can be a big mistake as it is your customer service and support teams that most actively manage customer relationships, prevent customer churn, identify opportunities for upselling and recruit customer references. – Anthony Smith, Insightly
14. One-Off Process Modifications
Operations procedures are often modified as the result of a dissatisfied client, issues with vendors or an employee’s personal preference. These changes add unnecessary time to every process. Make it a point to review your operations processes regularly and eliminate unnecessary steps. It’s better to eliminate the “one-off” event that caused the change than it is to change the process itself. – Andrew M. Smith, McRight-Smith Construction