Monthly Archives: November 2012

How to Fix Inefficient Processes

Pile of Paperwork

Image Credit:jepoirrier

While there may be a few indications that processes are inefficient or are just not being followed in the office, many times the problem isn’t realized until it’s too late. However, by this time work is often piled up, orders are backlogged, information isn’t flowing properly, and everyone in the office is pointing at everyone else as the root of the problem.

When this happens, how can

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you determine if it’s a process causing the issue? And, how can you begin taking the necessary steps to correct the problem?

Assessing the Issue

First, it’s important to assess the situation to see exactly where in the process the breakdown happens. Review the processes, and assess them for both quality and waste. Attempt to see where the process itself could be wasting time, and causing inefficiencies.

Is it the Process?

Is the process clear, and easy to understand? Does the process outline all the proper steps? Is anything missing? While it may seem silly, sometimes the simplest things cause the biggest breakdowns, so start at the beginning to see if the problem is with the process itself.

Is it the Employee?

Even if you determine the process needs a little help, continue to assess additional breakdowns. Assess the employee(s) performing the task. Are there any concerns? Did the employee(s) feel empowered enough to bring up problems before it became a larger issue? What do they feel the problem is?

Take the time to talk to your employees about the situation, and see what their concerns are. Since they are the ones that perform the task regularly, they could provide valuable insight, and may even come up with concerns you haven’t even thought of.

Is it the Equipment?

Even if the process is clearly defined, and the employee is eager and willing to carry out their required tasks, it may not be enough if the equipment they are given can’t handle the demands. Spend time assessing your equipment to see how much time slow, outdated machines are costing your business, and to determine what part they are playing in the breakdown of the process.

Correcting the Process

Once inefficiencies are assessed, it’s time to start correcting the process and getting everything back on track.

If it’s the process that’s the concern, re-write it until it is clear and workable for all parties involved. Get input from the employees involved and make any corrections to the process. Then, test, test, test. Sometimes, processes simply don’t work because they aren’t tested after their written, so don’t skip this vital step.

If it’s the employee causing the breakdown, determining why might be more difficult. How is their workload? If they are overworked, they may just not have enough time to get to this process too, and restructuring may be in order to help accommodate this need. Do they need more training? Maybe the employee doesn’t fully understand the process, or how to physically complete the task. Supplemental training may be necessary to correct the issue.

If it’s your equipment that’s causing the hold up, it’s time to take steps to get faster computers, newer software, or whatever else is needed to ensure your employees can properly perform their responsibilities.

It is understandable that new computers may be last on the list because of budget concerns. However, if that is the only thing that is stopping you from getting the equipment your employees need, contact us today. We have solutions that are affordable and even budget-able. Contact us today to find out how we can help you get your office producing again.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help offices run more efficiently. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website:www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Disaster Preparedness – Being Prepared Isn’t Enough

Hurricane Sandy Causes Floods

Early this week, the world watched as Hurricane Sandy ravaged the north-east United States, causing severe flooding, power outages, and more. However, it wasn’t only individuals who were affected by the storm – many companies, particularly ones with large online presences, were affected as well, as the data centers hosting their sites flooded, causing all sorts of problems online.

Websites like Gawker, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and others scrambled late Monday night, as the datacenter hosting their sites had to be shut down due to flooding and pump problems. Some sites were smart enough to have their data hosted on multiple servers, so that the outage wasn’t too big of a problem.

Other sites scrambled to recreate their sites and data on other networks, to ensure content was still viewable. And then there were those sites who thought they had their emergency plan in place, until they attempted to put the plan into action, only to discover huge problems and unforeseen obstacles.

So what does Hurricane Sandy, and these unlucky companies teach us about emergency plans? While disaster preparedness is important, it is simply not enough to ensure that your data is safe from a catastrophe.

Here are some tips to ensure that your business isn’t only backed up, but prepared to take on whatever emergency the weather might bring.

Backup Your Data

The first step to ensuring your business is protected is to make sure that your data is backed up regularly. Backups should be run nightly, or even several times throughout the day, to ensure that the backups have the most updated data. Backing up once a month, or less, could cause bigger problems if an emergency arises.

Redundancy

But, backing up data isn’t enough. The data needs to be stored somewhere, preferably off site, in multiple locations. That way if one of your backup locations is affected by inclement weather, you always access it from another location.

Have an Emergency Plan in Place

It is important to have an emergency plan in place, even if your company is in a region that isn’t affected by weather too often. If your location has ever had a history of flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, or more, it’s important to ensure that your emergency plan deals with these types of emergencies, so that your business isn’t ruined in the event that your region is affected.

Test Your Plan Prior to Execution

Even if you have a plan in place, it won’t do your business any good if it isn’t tested prior to execution. As we saw with Hurricane Sandy, many companies that thought they were protected simply weren’t, all because they didn’t take the time to test.

If you are concerned about how your business would fair during a flood, hurricane, or other natural disaster, contact us today. We can review your setup and help you create a plan that not only works, but that will ensure you are protected should an emergency ever arise.