Take the story of WatchGuard Video, for instance. The company was spending $7,000 annually on printing custom labels for its camera system inventory until it realized that a one-time equipment purchase of $200 could do the same work at — clearly — a significantly lower cost. Big savings and better customer service followed, all because the company was willing to ask itself tough questions about workflow.
To be sure, you may not be able to immediately eliminate thousands of dollars in waste in one fell swoop like WatchGuard did. But you may be overlooking a few things that could help your business run more smoothly.
Mistakes happen to businesses all the time — but some are your own doing.
Below are three strategies to make the most of your team’s strengths in order to streamline processes and prepare your company for emerging opportunities.
1. You-proof your procedures.
It may seem like you’re always on the job, especially as a startup founder. Nevertheless, you can’t assume you’ll never take a vacation or a sick day. And when you do, you’ll want a team that can propel your business forward in your absence.
Arm your employees with the tools they need to keep things running when you’re out of the office, such as process manuals and task calendars. That way, no one can say they were unaware of how to do something or when to do it. You can also delegate responsibility to a top performer you trust, making him or her the point person when you’re unavailable.
If your time away is planned rather than sudden, use the lead-up to accomplish larger goals before you take personal time off. That way, you won’t come back to a heap of unreturned messages, missed deadlines, or fussy customers.
2. Automate away the drains.
Redundant tasks, unnecessary reviews, and clumsy protocols can seriously siphon time and money away from your company. Reduce leaks in your workflow by moving specific responsibilities to an automated system.
First, consider the routine hustle and bustle of your office. What smaller jobs could be automated? Tasks such as posting to social media, reaching out to potential customers, scheduling appointments, and managing invoices can all be retooled as automatic operations.
You may get a little pushback from employees worried that automation could push them out the door. Be prepared to explain how automation can benefit them by relieving them of tedious activities, such as sending marketing emails or painstakingly collecting data for semi-weekly reports. In fact, according to a Smartsheet survey, nearly 60 percent of employees believe automation would give them back six or more productive hours weekly.
3. Make employees the focus of cybersecurity efforts.
No business wants to deal with a cybersecurity nightmare. Yet most never realize their biggest threats come not from the outside, but from internal stakeholders. The two largest sources of compliance and security breaches stem from uninformed or unhappy employees, according to Authentic Web, a corporate domain and DNS management platform.
Head off problems with prevention, starting with cybersecurity training. All team members should understand how the actions they take can jeopardize the company, not to mention force IT personnel away from their primary duties. Make sure that training is a regular part of the schedule. Online threats are always changing, and sophisticated phishing tactics fool even savvy users.
When workers leave — even if they do so on good terms — put a consistent, reliable, and repeatable process in place for cutting digital ties. For example, find ways for IT to sever links to the employee while preserving legacy data and secure information. If employees are facing immediate termination, IT may be brought in to take measures before the workers are fired to eliminate the possibility of cybercriminal activity.
Getting leaner and working smarter is a journey, not a destination. Take the first steps toward smoothing out the rough spots today to give everyone more time to focus on the future.
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