• chris bridgewater

Solving Business Problems

The world of business seems to be flooded with how-to guides and cutting-edge technologies to get your business ahead of the competition and solve your problems. I believe most of these are superfluous and in my experience cause operations to become cumbersome. There is only so much time in the day to accomplish the required tasks. All problems are solved with adding, subtracting, or modifying procedures and processes. When looking for solutions to problems within your organization, consider if the proposed solutions revolve around revenue generating activities. Furthermore, objectively look at the problem and ask yourself if the problem is really a problem. Say there is an issue with an operation, is this operation really a revenue generating activity? Is it a value add to the customer in some way? If you cannot clearly answer these two questions with a “Yes”, it may be time to deeply consider the relevance of the operation and look to remove it.

When it is Time to Adjust Operations.

In many cases it will be necessary to add or modify an operation into your procedures to solve problems. This is especially true in a growing business. When this time comes, you should consider a few factors for implementation.

- Do I and/or the team have the time to fully commit to this procedure?

There is no point in adding a procedure that cannot be executed. Does the person or persons assigned to the task have sufficient time available to fully execute the assigned task? If a person is unable to commit the required time to perform a task, there may be no use in attempting to perform the task. What good is 100 half accomplished goals?

- What if the process needs to be done but there isn’t enough time to do it?

If it is deemed a new operation is necessary but there just is not enough time to properly execute the operation. Managers should consider their options for acquiring more resources. Can the process be outsourced to another company or solo subcontractor? Will the task be permanent or temporary? Can a different task be modified to combine the new and the old, or be removed completely to free up the time needed?

- Is the new task a value add, or a revenue generating activity in some form?

Many business functions performed on a daily basis may not seem to be revenue contributing on the surface but may actually prove to be a contributor to the business’s moat. A daily sweep and mop of a floor in a restaurant is not particularly a revenue generating activity, as there are no restaurants that I am aware of which sell clean floors, but customers may return to the business because of its clean floors. So, in this case, clean floors are a value add to the customer. Can you trace a proposed process to the bottom line of your balance sheet?

- Does it make financial sense to add in the process?

All processes are time and money consuming. Consider the cost of time and cost of money to help you decide if the process is worth doing. There are cases where procedures are so labor and monetarily intensive it could put an entire company or division at risk of financial ruin. In cases where a process is required due to customer or regulatory demands, one should consider all options for funding the activity.

As it is with most decisions in running a business, deciding when to add, remove, or modify a process or procedure is not a simple linear decision. It requires an objective holistic iterative consideration to determine the best course of action.

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