The modern business world is fiercely competitive. Managers must understand that in order to keep pace in this increasingly competitive environment, they need to run their businesses as efficiently as possible. Businesses and marketing experts point out that, in the next decades, companies that fail to implement efficient management procedures will be put out of business by their competitors.
Business efficiency is important for companies of every size, but it is especially vital for small and medium-sized companies, which have limited financial and human resources at their disposal.
So how can you improve your company’s overall efficiency and reduce costs? Here are some ways you may not have considered.
1. Make Sure Your Employees Have Easy Access to Information
Access to information may make or break a company. When it comes to creating access, small and medium sized companies actually have a tremendous advantage over large corporations. Why? It’s much easier for them to roll out a system that allows users to share data and information, and to adapt that system on-the-fly to their ever-changing needs.
Use document management software like FileCenter that makes it easy for employees to share documents and keep all of the information they need at their fingertips. Pulling up information on the screen is many times faster than digging into paper files. This helps small businesses get more productivity out of their most valuable asset: their employees. Stick with simple systems that don’t require a database on the back-end or ongoing IT maintenance. And make sure that all of your systems tie in well with each other.
While some businesses want to skimp on their hardware to shave off costs, a well-running network, including a file server sized to handle the load, modern network switches and good cabling will add significantly to employee productivity. On slow hardware, employees may sometimes wait 30 seconds or a minute for a document to come up. Multiply that across hours, days, and weeks, and your company may be experiencing productivity losses that far outweigh the cost of better hardware.
2. Stimulate and Promote Teamwork
Efficient teamwork is critical to the success of large projects, where multiple interdisciplinary teams are involved. Several different departments will have varying views on a particular matter, and some issues are sure to come up. Avoid this by keeping your employees close together, either through an intelligent networking system or offline activities, such as parties or team building trips. Although some managers may see only the immediate financial downsides of this approach, in time it will prove extremely beneficial: your employees will feel better when working together, will communicate and exchange ideas.
3. Unify Communication Devices
Missed calls or e-mails can hinder projects right from their initial stages. Avoid this by enabling your employees to get connected to the system whenever it is possible. Provide an integrated voice and data solution, an online faxing system, as well as wi-fi internet connection in the whole building. Consider giving employees remote access to information. While some companies use a VPN to let employees remote in to the network, remote access can be accomplished as easily as deploying a Cloud service like DropBox, Google Drive, or OneDrive. Modern communication systems allow employees to have a phone ring them on multiple devices, guaranteeing easy access to information for your clients. What’s more, your employees can check updates from anywhere, including faxes, e-mails, text notifications and voicemails, all on one device.
4. Improve Employee Satisfaction
Happy employees are the bloodline of your business, and every manager must know the basic ways to make sure they are always motivated. Obviously, the best way to motivate employees is by handing out large paychecks, but there are other, more efficient ways. Try to create a friendly work environment, where employees can have fun, not just work. One idea is to have a hobby room, featuring games, a TV, or other attractive gadgets. Similarly, try to institute a casual dress day every month, when every employee can wear their favorite outfits. Social gatherings are also great ways to motivate and connect with your employees.
5. Develop a Technology Plan for the Long Term
Hardware and other devices become obsolete every five years or so. Hardware and software failures can easily interrupt your workflow and bring the whole company to a standstill. To avoid that, establish a hardware replacement schedule and regularly perform any software maintenance necessary to keep your systems running at peak efficiency. Try to establish both short and long-term objectives and commit them to a written technology plan. Also make sure that you put multiple backup layers in place to protect your valuable data against accidental loss. Make sure that at least one of those backup layers is an off-site backup service. Total data loss from hardware failure, theft, a building fire, or a natural disaster can completely crush a small business unless the proper safety nets are in place to let the business quickly recover their data.