When is the last time you or someone in your company have analyzed "how are
you doing business?
If your like most companies, no one typically has time to research
or review the methods used in your business activities. Everyone is
involved with the "doing" and does not take the time to
Why is an analysis important? Within every company there is
always room for improvement. Every company wants to improve
productivity and keep costs as low as possible. Some ways this can
be accomplished is by ...
- Improving methods
- Providing better tools
- Reducing the effort required for time consuming tasks
- Implementing new technology
- Providing employee training
Before improvements or changes can be made, areas that need improvement have to be discovered.
Too often methods are created, and because they seem to be working, the procedures or
methods are seldom re-visited to discover if there are better methods.
Employees become comfortable with the way their job is executed and
don't want to make changes that they think may "upset the apple
cart." Other employees may feel there is room for improvement
but are not sure with whom to discuss the problem. Or they may discuss
an improvement or problem with their supervisor, but further resolution
dies with their supervisor.
Discovering areas for improvement and filtering out the most important areas is not
an easy task. Your employees and customers
are the two best sources for this information.
If you don't have the time to interview every employee or customer, and usually
who does, perhaps a fill-in-the-blank form will help produce a list
of addressable areas.
- It is much easier for someone to check-off a box than take the time to put
something in writing.
- The form should try to trigger items that may set-off a "light bulb".
- The form should allow for someone to write a narrative or explanation for
areas that may not be addressed by the form.
Some example questions for a form are...
- On what task do you spend most of your time?
- Where do you feel is the biggest area where improvements could be made
that would help in performing your job?
- Do have any tasks that take too much time to perform?
- What changes could be made to make your job easier?
- Are you performing any tasks that are not necessary?
- What can be done to better server our customers?
- Are there any other services we could provide that would be of benefit
- Are there any services we could change or improve to better help you?
- Do you feel that there are any problems in dealing with our company?
- Does our company make mistakes or errors that keep re-occurring?
Feedback from a questionnaire should create some starting points for areas that
need improvement or changes.
Use a Consultant
A situation that often occurs is that employees or customers may not always relate
every problem for fear of stepping on someone's toes. We
have found that by using an outside consultant service, people do
not feel intimidated and will more openly express their opinions.
When we have performed a needs analysis for a company's employees
one-on-one, we usually get more feedback than someone from the inside.
Not Just Computer Related
Don't restrict the analysis to just computer related issues.
Even though a computer system can be the core of your business operations,
everything doesn't always revolve around the computer. There can be
situations where a task may not involve the computer, but utilizing
the computer can be a solution.
Source of Problem
Many times when an area for improvement is uncovered, it may actually be caused or
triggered by another procedure. Make sure
you always dig to get to the heart of the matter.
In many offices, the flow of paper work is a large time-consuming task. Areas that
should be reviewed are
- filing of paper
- locating a file
Once a list for improvements is developed, the difficult task of finding solutions
must take place. You will find that for some situations there is an
easy fix. Others may be more complex in finding a resolution. Simple
solutions may be accomplished by printing or displaying additional
information on a report or screen. Many times better inquiry methods
can be created to speed up the information retrieval process. A
key element is to address the areas that are creating the largest
that some companies make is to only address part of their company
operations without reviewing the entire scope of their operation.
Often, while making improvements for one area, another improvement
can be achieved at the same time with little additional effort. The
discovery process of recommending solutions should not be concerned
with costs. Costs should be addressed before deciding to implement
a solution, not at the definition process. You should be more concerned
with creating a "wish" list. Many times the actual cost
may be less than expected due to finding more than one solution. In
other cases, a different solution may be required for a given area
that could also be used to address a solution for another area.
Resistance to Change
Often there can be a "cog" in the wheel. This is usually caused by someone
in the organization who has a resistance to change. You should work
to make sure that all individuals involved keep an "open mind."
Explain that any changes or improvements will be done to help everyone,
not hinder. Explain that feedback and input from everyone is crucial
and welcomed. Using an outside consultant also provides a benefit
in this area by helping to eliminate any resistance to change.
Costs & Payback
After all efforts
have been made to find solutions, the costs associated with the solutions
should be provided. At this point calculations should be estimated
to determine if the cost to make the improvement provides a payback
in a reasonable time frame.
A planning schedule should also be developed to determine and control the order in which
solutions are created. This should be provided to employees before
any expenses are incurred for implementing solutions. This provides
the employees with information on when they can expect changes and
also provides a final review that the correct solution has been found.
It is most important that employees are part
of this project to avoid future resistance to change.
This probably sounds like a "Business 101" course. These are not new ideas,
but are concepts that are often overlooked by companies. Change and
improvements are necessary to allow a company to grow and improve.
Don't neglect this area. We can be of assistance in helping you with
this difficult task. We can also recommend other consultants that
can be beneficial to you. So why are you still reading this? Get
going on this task!