Businesses are built around processes. However, a process that works for a small office might not work for a large, multi-location company. As your company grows, you may need to change your processes to make them more efficient. This is known as process optimization.
If your company is expanding, you don’t only need to optimize things to make processes more efficient — you need to make them scalable, too. When you have countless processes to address, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here are four suggestions to get you started.
1. Streamline Customer Support Processes
Customer support might seem less important than your actual product or service. On the contrary, however, the customer support department is crucial. Even if you offer a high-quality product, your customers will likely go elsewhere if your customer service representatives are rude or unhelpful.
Similarly, customers are more likely to leave if it takes excessive time to resolve an issue. For instance, imagine you’re having trouble setting up a new computer. You request customer support from the manufacturer, but it takes their customer support department four days to get back to you. It frustrates just about anyone when a business makes them wait so long.
Like many forms of process optimization, this one often involves technology. One especially helpful innovation you might want to use is a chatbot. This tool lets customers visit your website 24/7 and ask the chatbot questions. If it can’t provide an answer, it can generate a support ticket and send it to the appropriate department.
You might also benefit from taking steps to optimize the support process itself. Often, this starts with getting the right software. Specialized ticketing software can gather new tickets — whether they come in via email, phone, or another channel — and automatically send them where they need to go.
During the support process, employees don’t have to waste time forwarding tickets to additional personnel. Anyone in the customer support department can log into the software system to see the ticket.
2. Prioritize Efficiency in Internal Communication
If you have a very small company, communication is likely not difficult. You just need to walk over to a coworker. However, as your company grows, it becomes more difficult for employees to find and communicate with the right people efficiently.
To remedy this issue, many businesses have a chain of command that everyone must follow. For example, if a low-level employee in one department has a question that another department is best equipped to answer, they still must ask their supervisor first. If the supervisor doesn’t have the answer, they ask the person above them.
This kind of structure creates “communication silos,” which essentially isolates each department from the rest. And at least in the realm of communication, it’s inefficient.
So, how do you improve communication speed? You cut out the middleman. When you authorize employees with questions to go straight to the person who has the answer (without going through a supervisor first), you’ll be amazed at how much faster and easier communication becomes.
Alongside the critical mind shift required from leadership, internal communication platforms are an essential tool for companies looking to streamline their internal communication. People need to feel like they are connected. Emma Williamson, Head of Marketing & PR at Oak Engage, an intranet software platform, articulates this reality well in a recent blog: “You need to be able to reach employees on a human level, which can be difficult in a hybrid or completely remote working environment. Regular consultations with staff will encourage participation and make them feel like their opinions are valued.” Cutting out communication barriers is vital to avoiding silos in your organization.
3. Use Automation to Strengthen Your Financial Processes
Financial automation is one of the most overlooked processes to optimize for your team and company as a whole. Now that automation is available for tedious and time-consuming tasks such as invoicing and accounts payable, your employees can focus their time on more meaningful work.
Automation can also help you better organize and systemize your financial record keeping. Most financial automation software for businesses enables real-time monitoring. This means you don’t have to wait until you do an audit to discover an issue. And because there’s greater transparency and better monitoring, the risk of fraud or theft within the company is lower.
Automation can be useful for optimizing just about any process in your company’s finance department. It’s especially helpful in the accounts payable/accounts receivable (AP/AR) departments.
Paymerang CEO Nasser Chanda details how it saves AP/AR teams incredible amounts of time: “Automation reduces direct manual work like coding paper invoices and routing them for approval, mailing checks, managing positive pay, reconciling bank accounts, and responding to vendor inquiries.”
By taking over these tasks, automation dramatically reduces the risk of human error. Even if an employee is conscientious, spending hours doing tedious tasks like these can lead to mistakes.
You might wonder whether automating certain AP/AR processes means employees lose their jobs. Fortunately, it does not; it just frees up time for less mundane tasks. Chanda notes that when using this technology, “[employers] can redirect all this saved time to higher order activities like spend analysis, supplier selection, price negotiation, and vendor master maintenance.”
Lastly, automation helps optimize your company’s AP/AR departments by lessening the risk of fraud. Sophisticated criminal networks have begun committing ACH fraud by impersonating vendors. Automation providers have responded by creating built-in anti-fraud capabilities to keep your money safe.
4. Predict Changes
Whether it’s a sudden rise in demand or your primary vendor going out of business, changes are difficult to adapt to. And as your company grows, it becomes harder to adapt quickly.
However, if you can use your data to forecast changes, you can better equip yourself to prepare your company beforehand. Predicting changes is commonly known as “business forecasting.” If you have the right data, you can use it to predict just about anything related to your business. Here are a few examples:
- Future sales
- Future hiring needs
- Cash flow
- Demand for future products
Depending on your company’s size and budget, you can do your financial forecasting in-house or hire a financial forecaster.
Invest Time Now, Save Time Later
If you’re running a busy company, it might seem impossible to set aside the time to rethink your company’s processes. Process optimization is time-intensive, but it’s well worth it. When your processes are faster and more optimized, you can save time and money while maximizing your company’s scalability.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Olia Danilevich; Pexels; Thank you.