Business Operations

4 Processes to Overhaul in the New Year

2020 was the year that upended everything, from how we worked to how we live and interact with one another. While we’re eager to let last year remain in the past, its chaos has given us ample opportunity to adapt. What used to work might not anymore in this “new normal,” and that’s why overhauling our processes is so important. In lean times, efficient processes are vital.

Some businesses are adapting to a completely remote or hybridized structure. Others are coping with reduced employee and customer capacities — if they remain open at all. No matter where you and your team are working, here are a few areas to consider overhauling this year.

1. Staff Education and Training

Onboarding new hires can be daunting, especially with so many people working remotely. This is also true for continued education and training for employees who have already made it past orientation. Consider leveraging digital tools like a corporate wiki to streamline your company’s education process.

Corporate wikis are useful tools that can store tons of reference information. This can include job descriptions and responsibilities, org charts, templates, and training manuals, just to name a few. When properly maintained and written clearly and concisely, corporate wikis can expedite your onboarding process while minimizing paper waste. You’ll no longer have to worry about updating or losing weighty instruction manuals when all that information lives online.

You can also link wiki pages to one another, making navigation a breeze. By linking relevant information, embedding files and videos, and updating material regularly, the wiki can grow and adapt alongside your business. Best of all, since it’s all digitized, it can be easily shared with anyone in your company no matter where they’re located.

2. Communication and File Sharing

In a similar vein, file sharing and communication are also important processes to update. While communication is less its own workflow, it plays a supporting role in everything your company does. With so many businesses spread thin, fine-tuning how your team communicates remotely is something you’ll want to do.

There are a few tools to consider using depending on the nature of your work. For instance, workplace messaging apps like Slack can let your team communicate in real time instead of relying on asynchronous email. Zoom, Google Hangouts, and other video conferencing applications can humanize remote meetings, letting people talk face to face. Of course, you can still rely on phones, texting, and email if you prefer.

Besides communication, it’s just as important to maintain a shared digital space to store and provide access to files. You can create templates and folders and establish filing systems in tools like Google Drive or Dropbox. Instead of having to dig through old emails, you can use these digital drives to keep documents organized and restrict access to those who need it. For example, the marketing department doesn’t need access to payroll information. 

By overhauling the way your teams communicate and share information, you’ll save time and money otherwise lost to inefficiency. 

3. Project Management

In addition to ongoing communication, project management is the next workflow you should revisit, especially if your team is still working remotely. As the old saying goes, “What gets measured gets managed.” Utilize project management software to assign tasks, track progress, and coordinate teams to ensure speed, accountability, and clarity.

Most project management software includes daily or weekly lists of tasks for all team members so they know their assignments. By looking at project timelines, managers can identify bottlenecks, such as when team members are waiting on information or struggling to complete tasks. 

Does that struggle stem from a lack of resources? If so, a project management tool will make that clear. Is more team collaboration necessary? Project management solutions facilitate collaboration by making all team members aware of outstanding tasks and project dependencies. Even as teams move back into the office, these tools can promote efficiency and accountability throughout your organization.

Yet digital project management methods are probably most financially beneficial when they’re enabling remote work. After all, the less office space your company needs, the fewer overhead costs like rent, utilities, and equipment you’ll have. Minimizing project creep and bottlenecks isn’t the only way that optimizing the management workflow can increase your bottom line.

4. Client Prospecting and Sales

While saving money is nice, finding ways to make more of it is even nicer. Enter sales. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an obvious impact in this area, too. Instead of in-person meetings and business lunches, more sales prospecting and client meet-ups are happening online. The good thing is, customers like the change.

A McKinsey report reveals that over three-quarters of B2B buyers prefer remote interaction and digital self-service to face-to-face engagement. And not just because of Covid safety. Customers can find needed info, place orders, and request service more quickly and conveniently via online channels than through in-person interactions. This preference is unlikely to change even after the pandemic wanes.

So double down on the remote sales outreach you’ve already been doing. Video and live chat are proving to be two great ways for sales teams to educate prospects and close deals. These remote methods provide the human touch while also catering to the convenience of your potential customers. The fact that your team won’t have to resume expensive business travel when Covid passes is a bonus.

Regardless of the pandemic, as your market changes, so too must your strategies to stand out and attract customers. Consider the following when revisiting your prospecting and sales processes: What have you been doing well that’s maintained or improved your business’s performance? What processes are outdated and no longer effective? Are there any new market segments that might be interested in your product that you can now reach through digital means?

The Way Ahead

2020 has given companies the opportunity to reinvent themselves. Are there demands caused by the pandemic your business can better fill? 

Rather than focusing on the product or service you’re selling, focus in on your prospects’ pain points. Listening to their needs and preferences will enable you to tailor your offering to their requirements and increase customer satisfaction. 

2021 challenges businesses to find ways to remain relevant in the new normal. By overhauling these four processes, you’ll increase your chances of success in the year ahead.

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