Any business owner knows that paying attention to the details is essential for success. If you don’t, you could end up in a lot of trouble.
Think of details as small holes in the bottom of a boat. Missing one might not sink you, but it does let in some water that you otherwise would not have to deal with. Dozens of holes produce even more problems and hundreds can sink the ship.
Throwing away money and wasting time trying to fix the problems that arise from overlooking the details is no way to be successful. By becoming detail-minded, you can identify the inefficiencies that are hiding in plain sight. Here are five common red flags to look for.
1. Make information easily accessible.
If you want to find out details about a customer or look at how well a sales promotion from last summer performed, where would you go to get that information? How long would it take to get it? Is all of the information you need readily available, or would it take a long time to get the full picture?
If you spend an annoying amount of time trying to dig up information that should be readily available, you can bet other people in the company are, too. This is a huge waste of time and resources. Not to mention, it’s frustrating and can lower morale.
Talk to your colleagues and figure out a way to make information readily available. What part of the current system isn’t working as it should? What can you do to change it? Can you create a centralized internal system that everyone can contribute to and draw information from? What would it take to make that happen? The goal should be to find a way for everyone to be able to find what they need, quickly and without frustration.
2. Tasks are abandoned.
Projects that aren’t directly assigned to a team are often left to fall by the wayside. Overtime, they are forgotten about until they’re needed, and then panic ensues. To avoid this last-minute stress, try using project management software that’s accessible by the whole team. Some teams even let their clients share in the progress, too, taking collaboration to the next level.
3. Employees spend too much time focusing on manual, redundant tasks.
Doing the same mindless tasks over and over eats up a lot of time that could be better spent doing more important things. What tasks are repeated over and over again in your business? Encourage your employees and colleagues to look for repetitive tasks in their day-to-day work. Is there anything that can be automated, managed differently, or even eliminated?
Avoid multitasking. While a lot of people tout its benefits, multitasking is not all it’s cracked up to be. Instead, improve protocols or look into automation software. Identifying and eliminating mundane tasks frees up a lot of time and lets everyone focus on more important work.
4. Stop making people jump through hoops.
Are there too many policies that make it difficult for people to be productive? Are there things that need to be double or triple checked unnecessarily?
One of the big areas for this is social media. A lot of companies came up with policies regarding social media use years ago when it first started to become popular, but they may not have revisited those policies even though the role of social media in business has changed dramatically.
Is there anything you’re being over-diligent about that’s getting in the way of people doing their jobs? Are you being over cautious about something that’s eating up too much valuable time or preventing projects from moving forward without excessive approvals?
When there are too many hoops to jump through, employees get frustrated and engagement suffers. Is there anything you can do to change this?
5. Outdated tech is affecting productivity.
If you haven’t upgraded your tools and software since the early years of your business, there’s a pretty big chance that it’s making things very difficult for your business. Outdated tech often doesn’t play well together, and there are so many new platforms that work seamlessly and can impact productivity.
Figure out what systems your company relies on, and look for updated replacements that allow for easy integration. There are many available at multiple price points, so you’re sure to find something that works for your business.
Take Your Time, but Keep Going
Looking for inefficiencies in business practices seems like a daunting task, but remember that you don’t have to find everything at once. Go slow, identifying things as they pop up, making slow but steady improvements month after month. Eventually, you’ll get there and your business will start reaping the benefits.
Thomas B. Fleishel, MBA, CFP™