The Chief Operations Officer's (COO) primary function is to oversee the ongoing daily operations of the business. They look for repeatable tasks that can be brought together to meet a particular goal. In doing so, they improve business processes.
Business processes can have a substantial positive impact on a company. But what about areas where there is no process in place? Some COO's are brought into companies to improve operations. In this article, we'll look at seven process improvement mistakes COO's make
1. Internal Meetings
How often have you attended meetings that have no agenda? It's likely they were not productive meetings. They may have taken much longer than expected and lost focus of what should have been discussed. By adding an internal meeting process, meetings will have a defined start and end time, with a specific agenda that focuses on essential issues.
Think about your meeting as a triangle divided into four segments from the top down. You begin meetings with issues at the top of the triangle. These are the hot issues with the most urgency. Next, the meeting moves to the section for short term projects, where you discuss what you're looking to accomplish in the next three months.
After that, longer-term projects come into play. These would be projects that need to happen within one year. Lastly, the final section would cover anything else. If you have a one-hour meeting, each section would get fifteen minutes. If it's a half hour meeting, each of the four sections would get seven to eight minutes.
2. Knowledge Base
Every business can be improved. One of the ways to do this is to have instructions for internal business processes. Something as simple as opening or closing the office each day should have a written process. If the one person with a key does not show up as expected, do the staff members know what to do?
Create a list of knowledge base articles that are freely accessible to all staff members for reference at any time. As new problems or issues arise, create a new knowledge base article. This can be as simple as a group of G Suite Docs or Sheets that the team can access.
With having information like this readily available, your company will run more smoothly and be better organized.
3. Human Resources
Keeping up with paperwork in human resources can be a real time drain. And losing track of data such as vacation days or paid time off will anger employees. But there is a way to improve morale.
Creating business processes for human resources will change the way many things are handled internally for employees. Listings of benefits, updated policies, employee handbooks, 401K information, summer or flexible hours, paid time off and vacation days can all become part of the HR system. By having information available that staff can easily access, you'll free up your human resources staff who can then work on other pressing projects.
4. Internal Document Control
Over time, documents that a company uses internally and with its clients go through revisions. But some companies forget to discard the old document creating many different versions of the same document.
Creating a system to maintain and track documents will save an extraordinary amount of time for staff members. No longer will they have to search through hundreds or thousands of files to find that one document. With a business process in place, documents can be held in one area, accessible possibly by job title or position. And the newest version of the document is what you'll find.
5. Training Program for New Employees
All new employees should go through a training program specific to their job role. While there may be a few tasks that are the same for all staff members, you can break up the bulk of the training by job role.
This trains new employees to be consistent in their tasks with their team members and provides the company with an expected outcome.
6. Tracking Company Data
In order to make the best decisions for the company, the leadership team needs to have data updated regularly. For companies that have multiple locations, pulling data together can be a cumbersome task.
However, with a business process in place to capture sales, marketing, and financial data from each location, business owners have access to up-to-date data on a more regular basis. Instead of looking at information on an annual basis, a monthly check might be better for the company. Changes can be made faster which can help increase efficiency and profitability.
The leadership team will have the ability to see what's going on in any particular location, sometimes as often as daily. They can then allocate resources to help a particular location. They can watch trends for the company as a whole and by locations. They can see which locations are the most profitable.
7. Tracking Projects
Are your company's projects successful? Are they meeting deadlines? Are they staying within budget? Off-the-shelf software may not be able to gather all the data you need with regard to your projects to see which is profitable and which is not.
You see transactions going in and out of your account. However, if the costs are not being tracked by project, you may not see that you're losing money on a specific project, or more importantly, a specific part of a project.
Without having access to a data analyst who can continuously maintain a system, it's like crossing your fingers and hoping the projects come out profitable. However, a custom software application can streamline your projects, so you have a better understanding of your margins.
What types of process improvement mistakes is your company making? Have you used custom software to streamline processes?
To learn more about improving business processes with custom software, download your copy of How to Plan a Successful Custom Software Project.