Spring is a great time to clean up and declutter at home, but it is also a great opportunity to audit your business. As we approach tax filing deadlines and the end of the first quarter, it’s the ideal time to assess the processes, systems and protocols for effectively running the enterprise.
As a commercial real estate company working with large corporate clients on complex database implementations, we have seen many companies benefit from the development of strong control processes on document handling, information capture and data management. Our company has worked with several corporations that employ “Six Sigma” processes in every aspect of their business and some of the fundamental elements that we have learned from these partners can be applied to any company, large or small, seeking to attain excellence in their daily production.
Top 5 things you need to do right now to set the stage for a successful year:
It sounds simple, but many times we are overwhelmed by the amount of information and data flowing into our Inbox, smartphones and servers each day. It is important to prioritize the information flow and sort the information according to type, urgency and system. Keeping information in various buckets or silos, whether in a spreadsheet, database or notebook, helps keep information and data accessible, usable and transferable. The actual process of sorting information into meaningful categories will help you develop your priorities so that they are consistent with the demands on your time and resources.
Can you see the actual top of your desk? Or is it covered with scraps of paper, printouts and file folders? Now is the time to evaluate the need for development of a database solution, cloud storage or other information management system. Access to information quickly and efficiently is critical when you need to prepare reports, develop metrics for performance or deliver work product to a client. Sweeping is the process of collecting the data you will need, and reducing the clutter of extraneous materials that act as a distraction from the tasks at hand.
Anyone in business today understands the importance of “keeping it simple”, but most of us do not re-evaluate the processes used every day in our work. Look for opportunities to streamline routine accounting processes, data processing and information management to increase productivity and enhance profitability. Technology continues to enable us to work faster and smarter but there are still many businesses that rely on outdated, home grown systems that cannot compete with simple software available at a local office supply store. Make the time investment to explore alternative software solutions and outside service providers and vendors who can perform key office functions more simply, efficiently and cost effectively.
Once you begin to see progress, it is important to stay on track. Developing processes, key performance indicators, and service delivery requirements are essential to creating a company standard of excellence. Processes need to be documented to be evaluated, used for training purposes, and periodically reassessed for efficiency. All systems should have written instructions, standard naming conventions, and change management protocols. If you commit to the effort it takes to establish standards and adhere to established procedures, the payoff in increased productivity and potential profit is worth the time spent. Incorporating the processes and standards into all aspects of your business has a positive, cumulative effect and will drive opportunities for success in many areas of your work.
Developing standards and processes is hard enough, but how do you keep it going throughout the months and years ahead? You need a “maintenance” plan to keep everyone on goal. Periodic, scheduled reviews of company shared drives and data cleanup of contact management or other information databases can greatly reduce the unnecessary data that creeps into any system with many users inputting information. Employee assessments can also provide needed insight into the functionality of current procedures and systems. Getting input from end-users in the organization can be useful in developing more efficient approaches to complicated processes. All the work that goes into creating efficiencies will be lost if the process breaks down or is abandoned, so developing a workable plan to sustain the commitment to excellence is key to success.
We have worked with many businesses that adopted these 5 steps and reached high organizational achievement. There is still plenty of time left in 2014 to make some resolutions on improving your business…start cleaning!
About the Author
Catherine Swift Sennett, Esquire is the Partner in Charge of Advisory Services for Jackson Cross Partners, LLC, a commercial real estate company headquartered in King of Prussia, PA. The company has developed a Knowledge Based platform to support corporate portfolio management and strategic transaction execution. Ms. Sennett leads a full-time staff of ten attorneys and real estate professionals as well as thirty attorney contractors who assist the company on large scale abstracting and lease administration projects. Click here to contact Catherine directly.