Top athletes know that winning is in the margins, that's it's the small incremental gains that separate the leaders from the pack. And it's their ability to continue to find those fine distinctions that keep them at the top of their game. It's the same with high performing organisations. They find ways to continually improve and refine their product, service or delivery to get the best out of their resources, be it people, time or money. So if you're looking to join the League of Leaders, whether you're a SaaS start up or in marketing operations for a global brand, follow these 10 steps to optimise for success.
1. Define the process: Yes, seems obvious, but you need to start by defining the process that needs to be optimised and remind yourself of the goals or desired outcomes of the process. This also includes identifying the steps involved in the process, and who is responsible for each step.
2. Identify the bottlenecks: Secondly, identify the areas of the process where there are delays, inefficiencies, or errors. These bottlenecks are the areas that need the most attention in order to improve the overall efficiency of the process.
3. Analyse the data: Collect and analyse data on the process, including the time it takes to complete each step, the resources required, and any other relevant metrics. Think cycle time (the targeted window of time the process should take) and on-time (the % of time the process hits this window). Make sure you can source as much data as possible to give you insight on the performance of the process. This will help identify areas for improvement and set goals for optimisation.
4. Map the process: Create a visual map of the process, including all the steps and the flow of information, and resources. There are some great diagramming tools out there including Microsoft Visio or Lucid Charts. This will help identify areas of redundancy, inefficiency, or confusion.
5. Simplify the process: Always be looking for simplification. Look for ways to simplify the process, such as reducing the number of steps, combining tasks, or eliminating unnecessary paperwork, handoffs or approvals.
6. Automate where possible: This is critical and where you can see the greatest benefit. Automate repetitive or time-consuming tasks wherever possible, using tools such as software, robots, or other automation technologies.
7. Standardise procedures: Establish standard procedures and guidelines for each step of the process, ensuring that everyone follows the same process and that it is consistently applied. If there is too much variation in how team members are executing the process, this can add a lot of wastage to the process. Work with high performers and see how their process can be followed by the rest of the team.
8. Measure progress: Establish metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the progress of the optimisation process. This will help track improvements and identify areas that need further attention. Measure speed, measure quality and measure cost.
9. Continuously improve: Continuously review and improve the process, based on feedback from stakeholders, changes in technology, or shifts in the business environment. This will help ensure that the process remains efficient and effective over time.
10. Train staff: Train staff on the new process and provide ongoing support and feedback to ensure that they understand and follow the new procedures. This will help ensure that the new process is adopted and sustained over time.