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Improving operational efficiency at your business

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Over the past decade or so the technological age led to an explosion of new businesses throughout Scotland. E-commerce and online service companies are easy to set up and have minimal startup costs, meaning that anyone with a good dose of courage and dedication can try going it alone.

This trend has had an enormous impact on the broader competitive marketplace. Suddenly, there seems to be more choice in just about everything. Great news for consumers, but a major challenge if your business is one of the fish trying to thrive in an ever more crowded pond.

One of the basic business principles is the value triangle, which states that to compete effectively, organisations need to be better, faster or cheaper than the rest. Improving operational efficiency is key, particularly where the second and third measures are concerned. Let’s look at three strategies you need to consider for your business.

1) Upgrade your systems

Many businesses have an accounts system, a customer database, an order log, an inventory system and various other pieces of software. Typically, they are all different, they do not communicate with one another, and if they are getting old, they sometimes seem to require a mixture of technical skill and magical powers to make them work.

An integrated system that draws all these together is an absolute must for increasing efficiency, reducing duplication or mistakes and creating a happier and less frustrated workforce. There are plenty of great packages out there that draw together cutting-edge customer relationship management software such as Microsoft Dynamics, which integrates well with Microsoft Office. The extra benefit here is that any troubleshooting with the integrated system can be resolved by companies that offer Office 365 support, which saves both time and money.  

2) Outsource

Outsourcing can be a divisive topic. Some see it as the most logical strategy in the world, while others feel it can dilute quality and lead to a company losing control over its operations.

There is a strong case, however, for sticking to the knitting and doing what you are good at while passing non-core activities to people who truly understand them. If you are a manufacturing firm, you do not want to be wasting management time on looking after teams of HR professionals, accountants and facilities maintenance personnel. By outsourcing these tasks, you can leave them in the hands of professionals who can do them better and cheaper by leveraging economies of scale. It is a compelling argument.

3) Invest in your people

Your workforce is your most valuable asset. People who feel motivated and engaged in the business will work harder and more efficiently. They will also be less likely to leave, meaning you spend less time distracted by recruitment and training. All this means a more efficient and competitive business.

Reduced costs and better efficiency are core to survival

In the 21st-century business environment, optimising efficiency is more than desirable. It is essential in order to remain viable and stay ahead of the competition.