Want To Improve Business Efficiency? Don’t Overlook These 15 Operational Areas


Running a business remains one of the most exhausting and rewarding ventures a person can undertake. As they navigate the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship, it’s important for business owners to remain vigilant to the parts of an operation that may not be operating at their full capacity.

While most leaders have no problem identifying common issues, there are some unique opportunities for growth that sometimes go unnoticed. Below, 15 members of Forbes Business Council shared some often overlooked areas where operations can be cleaned up and made more efficient. They also shared their best tactics for businesses that want to find a solution to these issues.

1. Innovation, Research And Development

If you have a department or resource for innovation, research and development, make sure they have the right focus. These can be the most valuable functions or the most inefficient, depending on the task. If you set them up to be able to invent new ways of reaching strategic objectives where the old ways don’t work anymore, they’re up for success. If not, they might just play inefficient innovation theater. – Lysander Weiss, Venture Idea

2. General And Administration Functions

General and administration (G&A) functions should be streamlined (silo-busting) based on the end-to-end journey taken by internal stakeholders. This might entail predictable, high-volume processes—which should be digitally enabled—as well as project streams focused on delivering new capabilities to support the changing business environment. – Sindhu Kutty, Kuroshio Consulting


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3. Developing And Training Talent

From a retail standpoint, I see developing and training talent to be an overlooked area. We often go into a store and can point out the operational gaps, but do we slow down to better understand where the current knowledge level of our leaders and employees is at? There is a true hustle in the retail environment—but take the time to do a pulse check with your employees and you will not regret it. – Sherry Taylor, Office Depot

4. Decision-Making Bottlenecks

Often leaders put themselves in the middle of the decision-making process for risk mitigation, but never think to remove themselves even as their team becomes more experienced. This eventually cascades into low-value meetings that constantly need to be rescheduled, too much time spent on process, slow progress on projects and general loss of motivation within the team. – Tam Thao Pham, DryShield

5. Systemization And Processes

Systemization and processes are one area that should be reviewed annually. Oftentimes there are significant areas of inefficiency in operations and it’s because things have always been done a certain way. This mentality of “It’s always been this way” is usually a sign of a poor process and significant inefficiency. – Tyler Martin, ThinkTyler Business Coaching & Consulting

6. Time-Wasters

Make sure employees are spending time where it’s most effective—don’t overlook cutting out activities that take a lot of time but produce small results. Putting a stop to time-wasters will save your valuable resources like time and money so you can use them where they’re needed most. Finding those inefficiencies starts with tracking your data. – Ty Allen, SocialClimb

7. Employees

Businesses are nothing without their employees. Ensure that job descriptions and titles are up to date, compensation is fair and you are exemplifying your company culture. Getting these root things right leads to operational success across the board. – Mihir Pathak, Mayvenn

8. Training And Retaining

Put your people first. To train and retain employees, remember, you are in a people-centric business and relationships are key. Keep labor focused on results and establish basic metrics as common ground. Then, reward top performers while highlighting unproductive habits. Feedback is critical! – Evan William Kirstel, eViRa

9. Time And Motion Studies

Time and motion studies tend to reveal that processes need to be regularly reviewed to ensure they are fit for purpose. In order to ensure operations are at their most effective and efficient, they have to be considered in line with purpose. Why are we doing this? Is this the best way to do it? It’s the simple questions that are often overlooked that lead to overcomplicated ineffective operations. – Marian Evans, Elevate BC Ltd

10. Overall Efficiency

You can’t take back time lost. I’ve seen companies hold meetings that take over an hour when the heart of what was discussed could have been simply put in a short email. Improving overall efficiency includes making the most of your time—and that includes recognizing when you truly need a meeting or if the topic can be discussed in a Slack message or email. – Cindy Diffenderfer, Orion Haus Homes and Hotels Inc

11. Onboarding

Onboard new staff with a comprehensive package that includes the organization structure, values, mission, the purpose of the company, an overview of their job function and how they will contribute to the success of the organization. Make sure you provide a digital version of this onboarding package. – Heather Odendaal, WNORTH

12. Meeting Structure And Process

Business organizations need to review their structure and process for company meetings. More often than not, meetings are run in a haphazard fashion with discussed topics and resolutions failing to affect business operations. Requiring preparation from each meeting attendee and using the last five minutes of a meeting to organize takeaways and action items will make those meetings more efficient. – Udi Dorner, SetSchedule

13. Employer-Sponsored Health Plans

The greatest opportunity for improvement is in employer-sponsored health plans. Companies do not apply the same focus or resources on it and for that reason, many companies are drowning in the costs to insure employees. The C-suite needs to get re-engaged on the benefits strategy to either make sure they have aligned partners with proper incentives or take the time to educate themselves on healthcare costs. – Louis Bernardi, BritePath aka Group Planners Inc.

14. Connections Between Employees

CEOs often overlook how important the connection between coworkers is. When colleagues aren’t seeing each other as often, they can feel disconnected—from their colleagues and from their work. This can cause major inefficiencies. To help bring back that feeling of being on a team, we’ve started to have more relaxed, less agenda-heavy meetings. We’ve seen more creativity and better communication. – Ted Dhillon, FigBytes

15. Budgeting

We focus on time on task for all areas of projects that we manage so we can benchmark how long specific tasks should take, coach teammates that may be taking longer than anticipated and ensure our budgeting process is accurate by knowing specifically how long each component of a project should take. It requires being very granular but it makes a huge difference in profitability and efficiency. – Gina Boedeker, The Boedeker Group



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