Every business owner and department manager strives for efficiency. From cost savings to time savings, a more efficient business is usually a healthier one, but how do you make the goal a reality?
Outsourcing As the New Year approaches, why not take the resolution business out of the personal realm and apply it to the business one? From making use of online postage service providers to showing your employees some love, here are eight ways to make your business a more efficient one in 2014.
Outsourcing has gotten a bad rap, and in many instances, it’s deserved, but not all outsourcing has to run counter to overall economic sustainability, and it really can help improve your business’s bottom line. No matter what type of company you run, some needs can be more efficiently met by someone more qualified.
- Accounting. If you run a small company, hiring a local accountant to take care of payroll, taxes and other bookkeeping needs can be much more cost-effective than having someone on staff or doing it yourself.
- Shipping. Utilizing a shipping solutions provider can save you time doing research and standing in line at the post office.
- Cleaning. Is your office small? Hire a local company to come in and spruce it up once a week.
- IT. No matter how large your company is, you might still be able to save money and drive efficiency up by outsourcing all your IT needs to someone who lives and works in that world full-time.
Consider the Cloud
Technology is supposed to make things more efficient, but some applications — especially outdated ones — can have the opposite effect. If you haven’t yet made the move to cloud-based IT services, doing so could go a long way in making your business more efficient. From bookkeeping to word processing, the cloud can reduce waste spent on buying, updating and maintaining computer software and hardware in your offices.
Time spent on the road is usually wasted. Anything that can be accomplished on the phone, through chat or Google hangout should be. Don’t travel unless your presence really is required.
Update Your Contact Database
The shelf life on customer data is impressively short. As soon as you gather it these days, it starts to change, and much of it becomes obsolete in a short amount of time due to the pace of technological change. In fact, it only takes a couple of years for an entire database to render itself useless. If any part of your business still relies on direct mail or physical catalogues, you can’t afford to have bad contact data. Cleansing software exists that can access accurate datasets and cross-reference them with your contact list. This work will enable you to update your contacts and make everything from marketing to communications to problem resolution simpler and more effective.
Improve Employee Satisfaction
A happy employee is a more productive one, and a more productive employee is one that is more efficient. From offering incentives and bonuses to paying for healthcare and improving office lighting, taking care of your workforce — even though it takes money — will save you money in the long run by reducing the wasted time that disgruntled workers tend to accumulate.
When employees, partners, suppliers and customers can more easily work together, efficiency is always boosted. Invest in a user-friendly network that incorporates the Internet, phones, chat, social media and more, so that problems can be more easily resolved, and work to develop a culture that encourages and rewards teamwork.
While it may run counter to the Protestant work ethic on which this country prides itself, taking breaks has been proven to improve concentration, memory and productivity. Don’t let yourself or your employees soldier through an entire workday without pausing. You’ll get more done, and the work will be better.
Improve Your Space
From lighting to furniture to equipment, whatever doesn’t work right the first time you or an employee use it should be replaced or updated. Any time lost, whether due to fiddling with an aging printer or throwing a breaker when you use the coffee pot, is lost money. Efficient workers need efficient work environments.
All businesses want to be more efficient. With the ringing in of another new year, take these tips and put them to use, and productivity, cost savings and time savings will follow.
About the Author: Monica Cline is a contributing blogger and financial consultant.