You own or operate a small business. Things have always been done essentially the same way for years. Perhaps, during the height of the pandemic, some things changed out of necessity. For many businesses, the changes produced positive results. This should be a starting point to make more changes in the business, aiming to improve overall operational efficiency.
All procedures should be thoroughly reviewed and then finalized into a written format such as an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) if changes are made. Keep in mind that all businesses operate with some type of procedures from the onset of the business until it closes, whether it’s a brick-and-mortar, internet-based, or some combination of the two.
Efficiency Is Key
Efficiency is a critical factor in operating a successful and profitable business and is a by-product of ensuring all employees are knowledgeable in their particular area of responsibility. How efficient is it for a business to operate with only a handful of employees knowing how to handle certain business functions? Answer: Not very efficient at all!
Procedures run the gamut of activities in a business. To operate efficiently, each procedure should be accomplished the same way all the time regardless of who performs the particular function. The question is, “How does a small business get to that point?”
Written procedures are important to operational efficiency as they do the following:
- Standardize each separate business function
- Allow review of each business function by others for possible improvement
- Simplify the process of cross-training employees in different functional areas
- Minimize delay when one employee takes over for another employee
- Permits management to follow up and review procedures to ensure company compliance
The process of developing, writing, testing, and improving procedures is a continual cycle. Once written, procedures should be periodically reviewed for possible revision and improvement. Change is a never-ending process in a business; therefore, procedures need to be changed to improve operational efficiency.
Some Better Than Nothing
Currently, no written procedures? Don’t worry about preparing all procedures in writing immediately. This can be an impossible and discouraging task.
- Start by preparing written procedures that are most critical to the company’s performance
- Have the written procedures reviewed by as many employees as possible that work with the particular procedure
- Compile all written procedures in a binder or accessible computer document for easy viewing
Rather than thinking of written procedures as a luxury when time permits, they are essential for the long-term success of a business.