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Ensuring Efficiency: A 6 Step Guide

 

It’s impossible to build a business that has perfect performance, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Undoubtedly, several of your business processes are inefficient; they waste time, money, and resources, impeding positive progress and growth. By constantly improving various processes, you can increase your productivity, thereby increasing your profits.

As a business leader, it is your job to identify and rectify these inadequacies, but if you can’t tell a good process from a bad one, you might waste even more time, money, and resources tackling issues that don’t make any difference. This guide can help you recognize inefficiencies around your business and develop solutions to bring your business closer to perfection.

6 Signs of Inefficiency

As you survey your business, you should always have an eye out for inefficiency. When the following are often associated with a certain process, you can almost be certain that there are inefficiencies afoot:

  • Mistakes. It might be as small as typos or as significant as incorrect orders sent to clients. Specifically, you should look for the same types of mistakes within the same processes.
  • Time. Undoubtedly, you want tasks done yesterday, but you should have a sensible estimation of how long it takes to complete certain processes. If real completion times well exceed that estimation, something in the process needs review.
  • Complexity. If there are too many steps between the start and end of a process, problems are bound to develop that push the finishing point further away.
  • Struggle. It should be easy for employees to find information about the process. When several employees struggle to understand the process, let alone complete it; there must be inefficiencies.
  • Slow adaptation. After a week on the job, most employees should be competent; after three months, they should be masters. If no one seems to be able to pick up the process - if everyone continues to struggle to complete the same task, the process needs reevaluation.
  • Noncompliance. Processes should always comply with established standards, so processes that are noncompliant are dangerously inefficient.

6 Steps to Efficiency

Fortunately, recognizing inefficiency is truly more difficult than overcoming that inefficiency. In six steps, you can identify the acute source of inefficiency, develop a new, more efficient process, and ensure the process remains efficient forevermore. For the sake of efficiency, we’ll explain the steps to making any process more efficient using one of the most inefficient processes at most business: Contracts.

Create a Map

Before you can perfect a process, you need to understand it. Using the method of your choosing - a flowchart, a swimlane diagram, or something else - you should map out your process from beginning to end. You should consult all people involved in a process to get a full picture of all tasks and subtasks.

For the contract process, an appropriate map might look something like the contract lifecycle. It begins before the contract is created, and it never necessarily ends. However, each step in the process includes several tasks that might harbor inefficiency.

Analyze

Equipped with your map, you can begin reviewing associated tasks and identifying potential problems. Some questions you should ask as you analyze your process include:

  • Do any tasks create a bottleneck?
  • Where do employees often get confused?
  • Is any part of this process unnecessarily costly?

Within the contract lifecycle, there are several steps that frequently cause frustration and delay. Most likely, businesses can pinpoint the contract creation process as expensive and slow, but the tracking process can be equally grueling.

Redesign

Now that you fully understand the inefficiencies, you can build a new process that circumvents them.  You should always work alongside those close to the process in the redesign phase, so you won’t miss any critical steps. As you propose solutions, you should redraw the process map to ensure that old or new inefficiencies do not appear again. Additionally, you should always keep the end goal in mind.

A redesign of the contract process won’t only include lawyers; it should also take into consideration the thoughts and behaviors of those most often in contact with contracts: Managers. A leader can review how contracts are created and used in real situations while they reconfigure the contract process.

Use Resources

For most business process, there is a wealth of resources available to assist in improving efficiency. You should acquire the necessary resources to aid your efforts.

Contract management software is a growing market, and there are dozens of useful resources available online that affect small issues within the contract process. For example, document comparison tools identify similarities between contracts, so you can determine how your agreements between clients differ.

Communicate Change

Your redesigned process will not stick if you don’t tell your staff about the change. You should organize a few meetings to train appropriate employees in the new process, answer questions, and receive feedback.

It is unlikely that many team members will need to know about changes to the contract process; more likely, only those involved in the process’s redesign will be affected. Still, it is important to seek confirmation that the new process reduces inefficiency and improves contracts.

Review

Finally, you can relax and watch your new process thrive. Ideally, the new process will eliminate all inefficiencies and require only minor tweaks. More likely, you will need to completely redesign the process again in a few years, after your business grows and changes.

As new contracts are formed and old contracts are terminated, the tactics and language used in contracts will change. However, if you build a strong contract process, it should avoid a total overhaul for a decade or more.

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