We run a startup based in St. Louis called Tallyfy - and we focus on operational efficiency in the context of running repeatable processes for small and medium-sized businesses. I spent a decade in London improving processes and building operational efficiencies for medium-sized and large companies. One of the most important competitive differentiations that larger companies tend to have above smaller ones is systems.
Operational efficiency is about “systemizing repeatable processes” so that you can not only separate people from process, but also scale consistently.
You cannot improve a process that nobody follows. In addition, even if people follow a process, you can’t achieve operational efficiency without metrics - in other words - without tracking a process between people.
The basic steps to think about improving operational efficiency involve the following:
Cultural readiness. You may want make your operations efficient - but are your colleagues/teams thinking the same way? People don’t like talking about this subject, but it’s a very real issue. Many process improvement efforts fail, for a number of well-known reasons.
Technical readiness. If you are lumbered with legacy technologies, it becomes much harder to fit the pieces together to achieve the full benefits of operational efficiency through integrated systems. The answer is not to buy a single system (that’s what companies did in the past). You should focus on ensuring that you’re choosing platforms that are cloud-first and mobile-first so that your people can work anywhere, from any device - and to pick best-of-breed products for each job.
Initial pilots. Focusing on making a single process or outcome more efficient is an excellent way of testing systems, and learning a lot more about what works and doesn’t in your specific context.
Management/ownership buy-in from day 1. It’s obvious - but if the management, shareholders or business owners are not interested in operational efficiency - efforts will likely fall flat.
Thinking about “what’s possible” from a customer standpoint. Addressing operations and going lean, especially with cloud apps that integrate neatly with each other - opens up entirely new paradigms for serving customers. For example - what if you could expose pieces/steps of your internal operations to your customers? Would that lead to greater transparency and more loyal customers? FedEx made parcel tracking available to everyone in real-time. Their customer service calls fell by an estimated 80% overnight. If technology enabled you to do that, then this is an external (revenue-generating) side effect to addressing your operational efficiency.
Tallyfy is all-in for St. Louis and we share the mission of the St. Louis Regional Chamber in the context of making St. Louis the #1 place in the world to start and grow a business. If you have any thoughts around operational efficiency, or would like to chat - get started here or add your comments to this post - we look forward to a conversation!
We hope you enjoy reading our comprehensive guides on operations management
and if you’re in a larger business - our guide on operational excellence
may interest you.