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​Step method to reduce owners and each employees’ working hours or increase productivity in a business.

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1. Create an organization chart – The first part to streamline a company’s operations is to create an organizational structure to streamline operations. A company with employees in more than one function, for example, an accountant and an accounts receivable clerk completing the accounting function, can benefit from preparing a chart. An organizational chart is the logical first step to streamline and organize a business. A chart also allows the business to manage growth as it provides a roadmap for the owner to see if hiring new people makes sense and what functions need strengthening. For a small- or medium-sized business, preparing a chart will take at most a couple of hours using any spreadsheet or document software.

2. Create job descriptions – After an organizational chart is prepared, the next step is to create positional job descriptions for the boxes on the chart. While this may seem time-consuming, the benefit is well worth the investment. First, the process forces the business owner to think about the functions inherent in the business. This additional knowledge is invaluable for shortening the time in evaluating whether the existing staff is adequate and for making future personnel decisions. Third, job descriptions save the company a lot of time because job duplications and overlapping will be avoided. This is because everyone knows exactly what specific functions and procedures they need to perform. Finally, a lot of time will be saved in the case of an employee’s absence or departure because there will be a useful written guide for each position’s job functions. It takes about 30 minutes to one hour to complete a job description, a one-time task, but it will save several hours down the line.

3. Invest in a reasonably priced off the shelf accounting software – Owners usually start by doing their bookkeeping and accounting on spreadsheets. As a business grows, maintaining endless spreadsheets often leads to a lot of redundancy and wasted time. Keep all your account information organized in one place. Combining applications like accounts receivable, accounts payable, and general ledger within the software discourages redundancy and errors arising from manually linking accounting functions with each other. Cheap off the shelf software like Quickbooks and even Quicken will save a lot of time beyond the few initial hours to install and learn the software. A lot of time is also saved because the software typically creates more than adequate documentary records, eliminating the need to look through endless records and files for past reports and documentation.

4. Restrict internet browser availability – This is can be a very underrated and much overlooked aspect of productivity. The internet provides small businesses with many convenient features to facilitate their operations, allowing employees to conduct research, access information, and view competitors' websites. A serious problem occurs, however, when employees spend time on the Internet doing activities unrelated to business such as shopping, browsing news sites, instant messaging, playing online games, and especially, browsing through and posting on social media websites. Some studies show that up to 40% of time is lost when employees have unlimited access to the internet. Restricting internet access can be achieved by one or more of three methods. First, have a written policy on internet use, specifying harsh penalties if excessive non-work related internet use is observed. Second, internet filtering software is available to actually prevent employees from accessing specified prohibited sites. Third, within legal limits, monitor computers in the workplace to determine if there are instances of unauthorized internet use.

5. Outsource certain office functions to free up personnel time and resources –Depending on the existing skills and resources within a company, many activities can be done by a third party services company. For example, there are a lot of outside payroll processors in Australia that can process detailed payroll cheques for a few dollars per employee. Just from a cost perspective, more often than not, utilizing a payroll services company will cost less than employing a full-time payroll processing staff in a company. The time savings are not limited just to detailed calculations of periodic payroll checques, but also in the various tax reports for governmental agencies.

Certain human resource functions can also be contracted out to qualified outside companies. These include interviewing and evaluating job applicants and designing forms such as personnel evaluation documents and application forms.

For manufacturing and retail companies, the activities involved in making a wonderful new product are different from the ones needed to distribute that same product widely. Consider the use of third-party suppliers of distribution and warehousing companies to eliminate the worries of how to move and account for product movement.

6. Consider re-arranging office space to facilitate movement and access within the physical space – For example, create a wide berth for access to and use of photocopying, faxing, and scanning equipment if these are not already available at individual work stations. Also consider the use of modular office stations where it is not necessary for someone to walk to another employee’s area to ask a question, or even just to determine if another person is available or not.

7. Leverage technology – Leveraging in this sense means making relatively simple changes to achieve exponential benefits in cost and time. Within the company, the most common technology enhancements involve using an enterprise-driven email and appointment system and developing a dedicated website for the company, or “intranet”, to disseminate, discuss, monitor, and process company information and activities. Also strongly consider using the “cloud” that, at the very least, can centralize the location of company information. In addition, information can be accessed anywhere so that an employee does not have to spend time commuting to the office to obtain information.

8. Promote and cultivate individual practices to enhance productivity and create time savings – In other words, instill a company-wide awareness that time is money and that productivity is king. There is a very long list of personal habits that can be recommended to create a culture of productivity. The most useful suggestions include directing supervisors and managers to delegate property and advising employees to avoid distractions, create to-do lists, and learn how to handle documents that come across their desks on a daily basis.

REFERENCES:

1. http://smallbiztrends.com/2013/04/50-time-saving-tips-business.html

2. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/limit-internet-access-business-46779.html

3. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/239987

4. http://www.businessinsider.com/key-functions-any-small-business-can-outsource-2010-11

5. https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/27-money-saving-tips-from-successful-small-businesses-annie-mueller/

6. http://smallbizlink.monster.com/training/articles/403-six-rules-for-leveraging-technology-in-your-business

7. http://www.businessbee.com/resources/technology/cloud-computing-increases-business-efficiency/     

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