Analyze your system

Are Your Business Systems Hurting or Helping You?

One evening, I was watching my daughter feed the dog. I noticed she would spoon the biscuits one by one into the dog bowl. The process was painfully slow. But given it wasn’t hurting anything and she was entertained while I cooked dinner, I let her go on.

Then it dawned on me how many of us continue with slow systems when running our business. Though our current business systems are not necessarily the most efficient way to complete a task, we still don’t change them. It’s crazy, isn’t it?

Many years ago, I had a client who vented his frustrations about a staff member who performed a particular task really slow. The said employee would set up a piece of equipment on the work bench at the start of his shift. At the end of the day, he would disassemble the equipment and put it away for storage. If he didn’t dismantle the equipment, he wouldn’t have to reassemble it for the next day’s use, saving the company hours of unnecessary work.

It’s a simple change. But it makes a lot of difference over a long period of time. These minor inefficiencies within the business add up, affecting the company’s productivity (and profit).

I had a similar experience at a firm where I used to work at. Their system of invoicing clients was also incredibly frustrating. There are too many steps involved for something as simple as creating an invoice for a client.

To give you an idea, here was the process:

1. The manager notifies the admin that a job could be billed.
2. The admin then pulls the report containing the amount of time spent on the job to send back to the manager. This document also has the amount billed the last time the same job was prepared, if applicable.
3. After receiving this report, the manager advises the admin how much they want to invoice.
4. Subsequently, the admin drafts the invoices to send back to the manager (e.g. for proofreading or to check the wording).
5. Afterwards, the manager reviews the process. If it’s okay, he will send it to a partner for final approval. If changes are needed, he has to send it back to the admin for changes. The admin will make the necessary corrections and send the invoice to the manager who will forward the error-free document to the partner.
6. When the partner finally approves the invoice, he will notify the admin to send the invoice to the client.

This clearly illustrates that the existence of a system does not necessarily mean business processes are as efficient as they could be.

Taking the time to analyse your system’s effectiveness could save you valuable time and might lead to a much better bottom line.

So, when was the last time you stepped back and reviewed your systems?