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How To Build A Strong Foundation For Your Online Business

4th April 2015

How do you build a strong foundation for your digital company? You do it by streamlining ordinary tasks and increasing digital efficiency. While this sounds fine in theory, implementing these ideas is tricky.

You need to understand your business processes before figuring out what software tools to use. You may be able to apply existing software or you may have to develop your own. The right tools will help you manage your physical and digital systems.

What is a Business Process?

A business will use many processes each day. These are specific steps:

  • to generate an employee performance report
  • to resolve a customer complaint
  • to make a new product
  • to sell to a new client

Unfortunately, many of these processes arose by accident. These off-the-cuff processes are often inefficient. They arose to meet a need and were never examined. Or they may have worked at one time but stopped working as conditions changed.

Inefficient processes are easy to notice.

  • A company may have employees who don’t do their work well because they are not clear how to do it
  • A company may have frequent returns because customers don’t get their orders delivered on time.
  • A company may have products that cost too much to make and that offers too little revenue.
  • A company may be losing valuable market share to rivals who deliver a similar product at a lower cost.
  • A company may have poor marketing strategies and sale tactics.

Before deciding how to streamline processes and automate them, you have to notice what is not working. There is no point in seeking to streamline any business with the latest tech if you are not aware of what needs to be fixed.

How to Fix Inefficient Processes

Here is a 5 step plan to fix a process:

Step 1: Analysis

Make a list of processes that don’t work, and then go over each one. Use a flowchart to map out the steps in the process. Once you see the process in a visual way, you’ll notice redundant steps. Flush out any sub- steps that you may not have noticed before.

It’s essential to involve the people who use the process. For instance, a company may believe that it is hiring the wrong people. Yet, perhaps, it is hiring the right people but not training them well. Since HR hires and trains, they should share their perspective.

When analyzing a process, you are looking for problems that arise from the process.

  • Does the work frustrate employees?
  • Do customers receive less than they expected?
  • Is there an expensive bottleneck in production?
  • Do the quality of goods and services fluctuate?
  • Does a business have many unnecessary expenses?
  • Are there delays in delivering products to consumers?

Step 2: Redesign

Once you’ve identified a process and found out what makes it inefficient, you can now redesign it.

In this stage, you should work with the people involved in the process. Their cooperation may yield new insights. They will also buy into the process once it’s launched because they helped design it.

Here are some tools to use in redesigning a process:

a. Brainstorming. Look for a wide range of ideas before narrowing down your options. Even unrealistic ideas are acceptable at this stage.
b. Analysis. After brainstorming, you have to choose which ideas are worth using. You do this through an impact analysis, risk analysis, and experience analysis. If the selection involves designing customized software, it should also involve some form of functional testing. Look at optimization through risk coverage, performance improvement through management, and ease of automation after live testing.

Step 3: Resources

Once you have a clear idea about a business process, you have to figure out your resources. How much money do you want to spend? Who should create the new processes? How will you communicate the new design to the employees.

Step 4: Taking Action

After deciding on what’s wrong and how to fix it, you have to apply the solutions. This might involve creating new manuals, software, or training. It might involve communicating the ideas to staff.

Step 5: Reviewing

Experience alone is the only way you can decide if a process works or not. What works well in theory might create unexpected difficulties when rolled out. Monitoring over a course of weeks or months,offers data on what is not meeting expectations. The processes can then revised or tweaked.

If Nothing Works

Usually, a complete overhaul of a process will not be necessary, just revisions to it. If a company finds that their processes did not work as expected, then the problem could be the company’s paradigm. A paradigm shift may be necessary for the company to thrive.

Antiquated paradigms have the following features:

  • Complacency on how things should be.
  • Missing out on the current consumer trend.
  • Overprotecting a technology that is no longer in demand.

If the paradigm is the problem, then a company needs to focus on:

  • Awakening to new possibilities.
  • Hunting new business opportunities.
  • Capturing a new market share.

Corey is an all round tech guru who has worked at some major blue chip companies. He started Poweronemedia to share his views and knowledge with the rest of the blogging world.