Ah, the start of a new year.
With the fresh slate of a new year, many businesses and owners are setting their goals, revamping their advertising efforts, and optimizing their business processes.
Whether you’re a business owner or operations manager, optimizing your business operations will help increase efficiency, cut costs, and improve happiness levels for your clients and staff.
If you’re an operations manager starting in a new position or you’re tasked to do a New Year internal check on business costs and productivity, here are steps to take that will help improve your operations.
What Are Business Operations?
The term “business operations” refers to any activities a business engages in on a daily basis to increase the value of the enterprise and earn a profit.
In other words, business operations include anything that keeps the business running.
Depending on the type of business, this can include tasks like inventory checks, supply orders, answering phone calls and emails, procuring internal systems, managing executive calendars—anything that helps the business run smoothly.
Typically, an operations manager is tasked with these responsibilities: they can be in charge of HR, receptionists, administration, and fulfillment. An operations manager will have to be great at accounting, procurement, research, and communication to complete their job successfully.
How to Optimize Business Operations
Business operations can vary across industries, but the tips below can be beneficial for them all.
Audit Processes and Improve Forecasting
The first step in optimizing business operations is conducting an audit.
Operations managers are responsible for finding and removing the obstacles holding production back; this goal should always be top-of-mind when making decisions.
Ensure you’re using data and metrics to make operational decisions.
Many businesses throw money away on programs or subscriptions that they no longer use but are being charged for. Auditing your processes, programs, time spent, and employee satisfaction will help you make better business decisions.
Conducting an overall audit also includes auditing your employee’s time. Are your salespeople spending full days charging clients instead of working on acquiring new ones? Then it might be time to look for a way to optimize their time and your processes. A sales assistant or software might solve this problem to make everyone’s lives easier.
In tandem with auditing, improving your forecasting will help optimize your business operations.
Most businesses—whether offering a product or service—have ebbs and flows. Knowing when business is off the charts and when it dies down during each year will help you know when to order more supplies, when to hire temp positions for extra help, or when to allocate inventory spend to other departments during the slow periods.
Cut Costs and Consolidate
After you’ve audited and worked on improving your forecasting, it should be easy to figure out where you can cut costs or increase spend.
Many businesses follow a “lean” strategy, which means exactly what you may think—trimming the fat and only utilizing the processes and software that keep your operations running smoothly and efficiently.
Your audit should show you where employee time is spent and where your budget is going. When you have this information, see where you can easily cut costs first—then dig deeper into other areas that could be trimmed.
If you haven’t been using a certain program in the past year, get rid of it. If you think you’re spending too much money on a program that makes your HR department’s job harder, see what is cheaper and more helpful alternatives are on the market.
This is a great time to do additional research into programs, software, and processes to see where you can consolidate your efforts for a better ROI.
Outsource When Possible
Outsourcing work often has a negative connotation, but hiring the right employee or company can do wonders for your business. You just have to find the right company, a better answer, to partner with.
You need extra help during the holidays or your busy seasons. Instead of paying salary and benefits for a full-time employee while supplying them with a workspace and equipment, you could hire an intern or outsource work to meet your operational needs in a budget-friendly way. This hired help can deal with an influx of calls, schedule appointments, send out reminders, and much more.
If you compare an outsourced call center to an in-house hire doing the same duties, you’ll see a minimum of 5% decrease in FTE (full-time equivalent).
You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons to see if the ROI is worth it for your particular business model, but in most cases, outsourcing will save money.
Keep Up With Trends and Technology
Even pre-pandemic, we lived in a world where the digital landscape was changing the way companies do business. Shoppers’ preferences have changed, client expectations have shifted, and one bad interaction with your business can have serious impacts on your reputation.
Online users have certain expectations when it comes to the websites they visit and how they purchase online. Having an outdated website design or problematic payment processors can hinder your company.
Be sure to keep up with the current trends and technology. If implementing a form on your website isn’t something you or your colleagues are well-versed in, outsourcing a company to help will benefit your business.
Investing in modern business software, hardware, and programs can be the difference between falling behind your competitors or rising above them.
As an operations manager, if you don’t know where to look to learn about the trends in your industry or in the digital space, find newsletters to sign up for and groups to join. Facebook, LinkedIn, and niche associations are great places to start.
The Importance of Optimizing Business Operations
Optimizing business operations is something that is always at top-of-mind for operations managers.
Whether you’re doing more consistent audits or full overhauls at the beginning of the year, these tips will help you cut costs, improve efficiency, and make your clients and employees happier.