Running a business is complex. There are nuances to managing your team, balancing your resources, and creating customer satisfaction. In order to help companies become more efficient, a few business experts have developed techniques that can help small business owners make strategic choices to improve operations and supply chain management and increase profits. Follow this process to improve your production systems in the long term.
1. Take a Systematic Approach to Collect Information
Research is one of the most important aspects of operating a business. Your research will guide the actions you take, which means you need to know exactly what is going on and the source of any problems. There are many ways to collect data on your business. From a qualitative standpoint, you can interview team members or set up a questionnaire where people can tell you how your business can improve. On the quantitative end, you can look at production metrics and look for performance weaknesses. Each method you take to collect information will depend on the industry and the size of your business.
2. Involve Your Team Members
As you work to improve your operations, consider the value that each team member provides. For example, your human resource representative is an expert on the hiring process, about your staff might also have ideas for diversifying the hiring pool or finding more qualified candidates. You don’t know what everyone brings to the table unless you ask them.
When employees feel heard, they feel more valued. This boosts morale and can even reduce turnover within the company. Plus, the great ideas you get from your staff will improve your overall business process.
3. Create a 360-Degree View of the Project
The main goal of taking in employee feedback alongside qualitative and quantitative performance insights is to create a comprehensive view of your organization. This is one of the key principles of operations management.
How can you create any process design improvements if you don't know what needs to be improved?
Some business owners will outsource companies specifically to conduct this 360-degree view. The idea is that an objective third party will be able to suss out a company's weaknesses and show business owners where they need to improve. With this complete view, management can take steps to better supply their goods or services to the public.
4. Set KPIs and Measure Them
As you take steps to implement a policy of quality management, set clear targets for growth. Every company wants to improve, but you can't ask your employees to do better if they don't know-how. When you set clear key performance indicators (KPIs), your team members can work to make fewer mistakes or to increase production to meet your goals.
There is a word of caution that comes with setting these KPIs. You don't want to set impossible goals to the point where your products and services suffer as a result. Your employees may get too focused on meeting the KPIs that you set that they actually make more mistakes.
5. Make Sure You Have Clear Responsibilities and Roles
As you are reviewing the performance of your employees and the production levels within your organization, check to make sure your team members aren't getting lost in what you expect them to do. Some employees seem naturally autonomous and might act like they know their roles when they don't. Others may be too afraid to speak up. Setting clear responsibilities will clarify what is expected of your team and provide more motivation.
Plus, you can assign KPIs to each of these roles to make sure your staff members can track their progress as they further embrace what is expected of them.
6. Create a Feedback Loop
One of the most popular management techniques of the 21st century has been the implementation of the feedback loop. This is the idea that employees can receive feedback on a regular basis, not just during office review periods. For example, if your team members meet for an annual review, you might not want to wait until that meeting to provide feedback. That meeting could also be so detailed that the feedback gets lost.
Some teams set up a feedback loop where employees and employers can give each other feedback on a weekly basis. Other teams set it up so groups of workers come together at the end of one project before they start another. You can choose the timeframe for creating this loop as long as your team feels like they benefit from constructive criticism.
7. Utilize Additional Techniques to Run Your Business
There are several operational techniques at your fingertips to guide how you run your business. Some of these will be used before a project kicks off, while other techniques are used in your day-to-day operations:
- Outsourcing: Hiring a contractor or agency to do work in order to scale production or tap into a needed skill set.
- Backsourcing: Bringing services back in-house to save money.Balanced Scorecard: Looking at the situation as a whole, not just the financial aspects of a project.
- Benchmarking: Comparing your business to others out there to see how you can improve.
- Exit Strategies: Having a plan to get out of a contract or project before you agree to start it.
- Kaizen: A practice of continuous improvement through collaboration and communication.
- Lean Supply Chain: The idea that if you remove as much excess and waste from your business as possible your business will be more successful.
As you can see, you may need to consider outsourcing or backsourcing at various points in time, though your company should practice lean supply chain management or kaizen every day. Both of these terms are equally valuable for running your business. The field of operational management requires a great deal of balance. You need to keep your employees and customers happy while trying to continuously improve your operations.