You know you need to streamline your business administration processes, but you don’t know how or where you’ll find the time. Yet whether you want to update, get ready to sell or grow, streamlining is essential.
It’s time for a garage sale at your company. And the first step in any garage sale is to identify what you’ve got, what you want to keep and what you want to throw away. You have to do a complete review and assessment of your operations, from top to bottom, and plan a better approach. And you need to get outside help if you can’t do it yourself.
1. Review Your Business Administration Processes
The first step in any streamlining effort is to review your current processes so you know exactly what they are. You need to look at every single step of your business administration processes. If you don’t know what to look for or you can’t assess your business objectively, use an outside contractor with expertise in business administration to help you.
- This step may open your eyes a little bit. But you have to be honest with yourself and look at your company through objective eyes, which is difficult, for that to happen. Remember, you’re looking for inefficiencies to improve, so everything is on the table and “we’ve always done it that way” doesn’t apply here.
- And saying that you’re going to be objective is different from actually being objective. In many cases, business leaders are too close to the business to see it clearly. That’s where contracting comes in because you will always get an objective view from an outsider.
- Collect data. Look at the technologies you use (are they up-to-date?), how you share information and how you manage human capital. Ask your customers and your employees for feedback from the outside and the inside.
Write absolutely everything down, organize it and keep track of it all in a single place. If you don’t have the resources or time, find a third-party vendor to do it for you.
2. Assess the Results
Once you’ve collected all the data, it’s time to find out what it tells you. Most likely, you’ll see some things you were expecting and some things you weren’t. Or you may need professional outside help to see anything at all, and that’s okay too.
Identify the areas where your company seems to struggle with tasks taking too much time or costing too much money…
- Any area where you’re still doing things manually is a fantastic place to start. Technology isn’t just a convenience anymore, it’s a strategic tool that companies are using to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals. Why print and shuffle papers around when you need to sign a contract instead of using a digital signature tool like DocuSign? Why use multiple databases when you can use a single CRM system? Why input data yourself during open enrollment when your employees can enter their data for you with a self-serve portal? The list goes on.
- Engage your employees in the process. No one knows how your company actually runs in the background better than the people actually running it in the background. Ask your employees why they think certain processes are inefficient or too costly, and ask them for suggestions on how to make them better.
- Engage your customers in the process too. By seeing how your services look from the outside, you can draw straight lines from your internal problems to the subsequent external frustrations they cause for your customers. And prioritize fixing those areas first because they’re customer-facing (that’s not just for efficiency, it’s for better customer service as well).
If you’ve collected what seems like a mountain of data and don’t know how to interpret it, contract out that work as well. The experts look at that kind of thing every day, and we can see where the problem areas are.
3. Plan Your Way Forward
Gather your best minds, including your outside contractors, and plan your next steps. Take them one at a time rather than all at once, for your own sanity, but put rubber to the road.
- Start with the low-hanging fruit like unnecessarily complex processes. Identify all the steps that aren’t really necessary and cut them. Also cut the unnecessary processes altogether wherever possible.
- Next, change it up. Try different ways to do things and different people to do them. It’s great to bring in new technologies and methodologies, and it’s also great to bring in new resources and talent to enhance your company’s core competencies.
- Last, bundle the business administration functions that are your biggest headaches and wash your hands of them altogether by contracting those services out to a third-party vendor. For example, ditch payroll, benefits administration and tax preparation in one shot with a co-employment relationship where the contractor acts as the employer of record and is responsible for managing all of those functions.
Streamlining Business Administration
To streamline your business administration processes, you need to review how you’re doing things now, assess how well those things are working and plan new ways going forward.
Streamlining your business isn’t just a catchphrase or ‘nice-to-have’ anymore; it’s a strategic advantage or disadvantage.