When it comes to administrative tasks many small businesses, particularly ‘one-man bands’, cannot dedicate the time. These tasks can be the most time consuming and, if appropriate time is not allocated, then errors are made, creating a back log. This can have a detrimental impact on your business resulting in dissatisfied staff and customers.
Why streamline your admin process?
There are many benefits:
- Improve the efficiency of the process
- All staff follow the same steps with less duplication/confusion
- Lower operational costs
- Eliminate ‘bottlenecks’
- Work to deadline
- Greater accuracy/up-to-date information
- Training needs are identified
- Comply with legislation
So where do you start?.....
Map out the steps of each administrative process
Who is responsible for completing the task? This may be easy to answer if you are a ‘one-man band’ tackling everything! Remember that communication is key! - Ask those involved, it could well be that they have their own suggestions and have already considered or taken steps to improve this process
As a lover of the project management model I’d like to refer to ‘dependency management’. ‘A dependency is where a task, milestone or activity is dependent on another task or milestone being completed before it can start or be completed and this is very much the case with most admin tasks.’
Who/What milestone is dependent on the task being completed and what ‘milestone(s)’ does it affect if it’s not completed within timescale or at all?
A simple example of this could be a customer contract. If a contract is not submitted on time then this could have an impact on the start date. Another example would be invoicing, many businesses spent a lot of time a lot of time reconciling payments which leads us nicely onto the next step of modern technology.
3. Modern Technology
Modern technology and outsourcing opportunities offer many solutions for businesses. What tech systems are currently used? Could this task be outsourced? Could you streamline this with an automated system?
Research available products on the market, but remember, artificial intelligence may make a business more efficient but will never fully replace humans. Too much of what we do adds value and requires tactic, knowledge and intangibles.
4. Frequency and time allocation
How often is this task completed versus how often it should be completed?
How long does this task take to complete from start to finish? Always take into consideration approval time.
This information is important if you are considering outsourcing or replacing the task with technology as it allows you to compare costs and calculate the potential saving.
What are the key improvements required – it could take less time, a simplified approval process, more consistent or better use of advanced technology. Be honest, you may have certain tasks under control or you may want a complete administration overhaul!
It is important to manage any change smoothly. Ensure you gain buy-in from those involved or affected by this change. As I mentioned earlier, communication is key, involve the right people from the start, collate their ideas and listen to any concerns
6. Quick Wins
Once you have mapped out the above you are likely to come across inefficient processes and obvious room for improvement. Consult the responsible owner of the task and implement some ‘quick wins’. Sometimes a few simple changes will make the process faster and more efficient.
Set deadlines on the quick wins. It’s important you monitor any improvement so no additional time is wasted.
To keep your team engaged appoint subject matter experts to share their knowledge.
Remember…. wearing several hats isn’t always sustainable, particularly as your business grows. Outsourcing to a skilled team of administrators gives you greater flexibility, increased visibility and allows you to focus on what you do best – growing your business!