When we speak with business managers about their biggest concerns, operational efficiency is always pretty high on the list.
The challenge is to continually improve productivity while:
- delivering to a high standard
- keeping costs low, and
- ensuring that your workers are happy.
That can be a pretty tall order! Over time, you may start to feel like you are running out of ways to make additional productivity gains.
Paper processes need a revisit
If your operations involve the regular use of paper documents, it may be time for a second look.
To do that, we recommend a structured review, looking at workflows, bottlenecks, and potential negative outcomes.
These are the kinds of questions to explore:
- How many staff members make regular use of paper documents?
- How much time do they spend searching for and retrieving paper documents?
- How much time do staff members spend waiting for critical documents to be delivered?
- How much total time does this amount to each week?
- What impact does this have on their core duties?
- What are some of the potential consequences of excessive wait times for paper documents? (For example, missed business opportunities, fines.)
- Are employees making copies of records to avoid having to search for them or wait for them?
- How much extra storage space is taken up by these documents?
It’s OK if you can’t come up with precise answers. The idea is to get a sense of the magnitude of the problem and the negative consequences.
As you can imagine, a structured approach like this can reveal some surprising and painful truths about paper-based processes. We’ve seen a few jaws drop when those inefficiencies have been tallied up and put down in black and white.
A number of solutions are available if you discover that paper processes are hurting your productivity and profitability. For some businesses, it might make sense to convert existing paper documents into electronic versions. Or the solution could be to install business-specific software to avoid creating paper documents in the first place.
If you have explored these options and find yourself “stuck” with paper-based processes, the good news is that you don’t have to abandon your quest for efficiency. One solution is to implement file tracking software, which helps reduce search and wait times for paper documents. Another solution is to implement best practices for filing and storage systems.