Simple business improvement ideas to start using today!

When on the market for business improvement ideas, you’re most likely looking for simplification and improvement or your business processes and that normally means you want to go with “less is more” and not the other way around.

Getting in touch with a consultant may end up with you even more confused, since some of them actually deserve the bad reputation they sometimes get for making thinks more complicated than they actually need to be.

To actually get your team going and engaged with the business improvement you’re looking to achieve, you need to simplify by taking the classical process improvement tools (Kanban, 5S, theory of constraints, etc.) and explaining them in layman’s terms anyone can understand.

Business improvement tools: how to introduce them

Most of the “normal” people, specially startup or small business’ owners are not actually as familiar with these terms as larger companies, that already see these tools as means to an end (the end actually being to improve your processes/business in general).

To do so, you need take a step back and figure out a way to explain it to everyone with as little technical terms as possible – you don’t want people to feel bad about themselves for not understanding a single word you’re saying.

By looking at the classical set of business improvement tools and finding out the best way to explain them – calling them by simpler, self-explanatory names is a strategy that almost always works – you’ll get people engaged and using them in no time.

How to start improving your business:

There are options of tools available for all sizes of businesses and their needs, and there are simple tools that can be easily used as a starting step at any business – those are the ones that almost always end up in “unexpected” improvements.

If you’re not really sure how and where to get started, here are a few suggestions of business improvement ideas you can consider beginning with:

Simple (but effective) Business improvement ideas:

1) Organization, cleaning and labeling of your workplace:

You know when you’re feeling especially revolutionary and the first thing you decide to do on your “life changing” strategy is organizing all your closets, “out with the old, in with the new”? That’s exactly it: along with your staff, focus on getting rid of everything that’s cluttering your workspace, mostly things that are very scarcely used but kept there “just in case they’re needed”: put it all in a storage unit, recycle it or just plain throw it away.

Everything that remained this first phase of your workplace revolution should be stuff that’s often needed. All these useful objects must be duly labeled and organized in a way to make your workplace as clean an as clutter-free as possible.

Now you already got rid of all the useless things and you can actually see the surface of your furniture, go on and clean up your work area, make it shine like it’s brand new: this tends to get everyone excited, working in an entirely new and organized environment.

To make your new setting last, setup a process for when people use stuff and then put it back right where it was before they used it. Make cleanliness and organization your new pattern and make sure everyone sticks to it, otherwise things will gradually go back to the mess they were.

2) Reduce backups and unnecessary steps:

Just like you got rid of all the “physical” clutter with your brand new workplace, do the same for your work processes: look for areas/steps in your business processes where the work may be piling up or getting “stuck” (creating something called “bottlenecks”, points of constraint that stop your process from moving forward).

Improving the efficiency in one single process in one area can show you better results than you think, and these are the kind of business improvement that often impacts immediately your customers.

3) Document your processes and tasks:

By documenting the way you do things around your business, you’ll be able to develop a standard and consistent approach for doing your key activities and tasks.

Actually write them down or draw a diagram, so everyone knows how it should be done without the need of someone stopping their tasks to explain. If someone comes up with a way to do things better and improve the way a certain task is done, update the steps.

4) Employee Brainstorming for business improvement ideas:

Gather your employees and propose you all “brainstorm” together ways to improve the business. Different employees from different areas often hear the complaints and deal with the inefficient steps within the processes, so listening to what they say is the wisest thing to do.

Make sure to always ask them about risks of problems in their processes, not just those that have actually already happened, but the ones they believe may end up happening and how you can avoid them.

5) Customer Surveys:

You’ve already brainstormed with your employees for their business improvement ideas, now it’s time to know what your customers think can be done better. Send out a survey to your customers (this can easily be done online with an online survey tool), and ask them ways in how you can improve your products and services.

When you get the results, analyze them and rank the top ones to study for implementation (it’s no good getting through the trouble of running a survey if you won’t take the results seriously).

6) Cross-train employees:

Offer your employees the opportunity to be trained to be able to do multiple tasks and develop different skills. Implement a job-shadowing program, in which a person gets to spend a week in a different area learning what a colleague does and developing new skills.

These initiatives are bound to give you a more flexible workforce, with multi-skilled employees so in case you ever get overloaded in one area – or someone is out sick or on vacation – you won’t keep your customer waiting or provide a less than ideal service.

These are a few basic improvement approaches that can be used altogether or individually, and even highly efficient companies resort to them over and over again when they’re looking for business improvement ideas.

Looking for a way to organize your tasks and processes?

Try Pipefy! We help companies keep organised and more productive by running their processes and day-by-day routines on an easy and intuitive tool, making them leave in the past inefficient manual forms, spreadsheets and email threads.

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Written by Isabelle Salemme, Product content manager at Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to write informative pieces teaching users to make the best of Pipefy. Besides being responsible for all product-related content, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover and a professional photographer.