When many people think about what it means to grow a business, they instantly consider the amount of sales it makes each year. Whilst this is relevant to a fair extent, business growth also takes various other factors into account, including the achieving of operational excellence.
Likewise, when analysing the success of a company, it’s crucial to take into account how efficiently it runs. This in itself covers multiple areas, from the speed of delivering products and services, to the amount of waste created in the process. Even if a business has a large volume of output, there will often be processes and systems that are inefficient both financially and on an environmental level.
“A business achieves operational excellence when every member of staff understands the value being offered to the customer and plays an active role in improving its delivery,” says Damian White, Managing Director at visual management consultancy ClarityVM. “If you take two similar companies and compare them, the one that invests in continuous improvement will always have greater operational results than its competitor.”
The pursuit of operational excellence involves being able to make important decisions more easily. When a business has precision at the core of all operations, the outcome is not only more positive but also easier to anticipate and develop. However, many businesses lack this foresight due to obstacles that are sometimes impossible to spot.
“It’s a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees,” explains Damian. “When you’re based on the premises every day, small issues are often missed entirely. By inviting an external consultant to analyse the situation, you’re acknowledging that there’s always room for improvement and assuring the enhancement of your business model.”
The process of achieving operational excellence begins with the pinpointing of issues. The consultant will talk to the business owner, managers, team leaders and employees about individual processes, exploring what each one contributes to daily operations. This invariably uncovers small stages or even entire systems that are inefficient, leading to the wasting of time, physical resources or both.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of when this happens,” says Damian, “as it’s very easy for it to occur even within large and long-established organisations. The key is to then be open to strategic change, which initially takes the form of a discussion about how processes can be fine-tuned. Together we’ll decide the best way to remove hindrances entirely, no matter how small and negligible or large and insurmountable they may seem.”
Once individual solutions have been developed for specific problems, it’s time to implement them throughout the workplace. The form this takes can be anything from upgraded machinery to clearer communication, with visual management being placed at the heart of the new system. Visual management products come in many shapes and sizes, yet they all share the purpose of making core information easy to access and quick to digest. As a result, every member of staff remains on the same page and can clearly see how a system is performing, as well as what’s holding it back.
Depending on the current arrangement at your workplace, the removal of constraints and bottlenecks can either be very fast or require a longer period of time. Whatever the case, it brings an enormous return on investment, as your premises will then be able to function as efficiently as possible.
Damian adds: “The final step is to embed a culture of continuous improvement throughout your organisation. This takes a lot of focus, patience and attention to detail, as every member of staff must understand and believe in the new philosophy. The effort always pays off, as our products and services have helped businesses to increase employee engagement by 48% and save seven-figure sums.”
As they say, a company is only as good as its people, so involving all employees and empowering them to bring positive change to the business is a sure-fire way to secure the very best results.