By Norman Kretzmer, the founder and CEO of Contract Understanding
For business owners, the start of a new year is a perfect opportunity to take a fresh look at their operations. Even small optimisations to your systems and processes can create big productivity boosts, which in turn, can help you to drive significant improvements to your revenues and profitability.
Here are four tips for improving your productivity, so that your business can navigate the challenges and opportunities it will face in the year to come.
- Planning is everything
In a world that feels more volatile and uncertain than ever, good strategic and project planning is key to success. It’s important to have clearly defined objectives for your business, with actionable steps that will help you to meet your goals. Regular strategic planning will help you to reassess and adjust your business strategy based on market trends and internal performance.
Each project should also be carefully planned, paying close attention to the expected outcomes, the risks that may derail the project, and the resources required to complete it. Break projects down into tasks, set deadlines and ensure that there are clear lines of accountability. Strategic and project goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed (SMART) to keep progress on track.
- Centralise and digitise information
Poorly organised information, particularly a reliance on paper documents, is one of the biggest enemies of productivity in any business. Many businesses are keeping critical information such as contracts and customer records in filing cabinets or on employees’ local hard drives. Digitising this information and storing it in a centralised online repository can deliver immediate productivity wins.
Consider the benefits, for example, of being able to access all contracts with customers, suppliers and service providers via a cloud -based system rather than needing to rummage through a cabinet. Once your documents are stored online, it also becomes easier for your team to share information and collaborate, saving time for everyone. This also enables your team to work remotely when appropriate.
- Embrace automation and AI
Although many businesses have adopted software to automate some processes, you’ll still find many owners and employees manually executing a range of repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Whether it’s manually tracking customer service requests, capturing financial information, or keeping track of legal contracts, the admin can be overwhelming.
Today, businesses can use a range of affordable, cloud-based software tools to automate these tedious processes and free resources up to focus on growth and strategy. Such solutions help to reduce human error, improve efficiency, speed up business processes, and strengthen compliance with tax laws and other regulations.
- Harness tech as an enabler, but don’t let it become a distraction
Technology has completely changed how businesses operate over the past 15 years. Mobile access to apps like email, social media and instant messaging allow us to work from nearly anywhere, be more responsive to colleagues and customers, and have access to real-time info at our fingertips. But there is also a downside, given the propensity of people to try to multitask.
These technologies can distract employees from their essential tasks. Constant WhatsApp or social media notifications can be disruptive when you need to focus on doing your financials or completing a customer proposal. It can be helpful to set times aside during the day to respond to messages and turn notifications off the rest of the time.