Why it pays to continuously improveLittle things really can mean a lot in business – and taking the opportunity to iron out inefficiencies and hone your offering as you go can have a huge impact on how your company performs in the long run.

We look at 10 small measures you can adopt quickly and easily to continuously improve your business by freeing up more of everyone’s time for innovation and growth.

1. Be first
Make a point of keeping in step with emerging trends so that you’re not caught out by competitive offerings – or the direction your customers are taking. This will help to generate fresh ideas in-house too, which you’ll be able to consider more accurately by maximising the reporting processes and software at your disposal.

2. Automate more
Would you benefit from automating more of your processes? Are you getting the most from the information you generate? Take the time to understand the full potential of the tools you possess to maximise efficiency and reduce any bottlenecks.

3. Upgrade your software
Review your software at intervals and take the time to assess any available upgrades that may be available. Consider the benefits any additional functionality might offer. Would this better enable you to scale? How would this impact your business and help you achieve your goals? 

4. Improve cash flow
Maintaining adequate cash flow levels is essential to maintaining the day-to-day health of your business and its ability to grow. Schedule regular reviews to analyse issues and look at ways of streamlining your business to boost cash flow – such as offering customers a discount for early payment or reducing your IT expenditure with a move to the cloud. Check out the new release of Sage 50 Accounts, including improvements to help you manage cash flow.

5. Stay secure
The aim of software ‘patches’ or ‘service packs’ is to address any security issues that have been identified or enhance any of the services you access – keeping your business safe from any costly downtime and data corruption, as well as benefitting from enhanced performance. 

6. Hone your customer service
Customers have the power to make or break your business, so it makes sense to ensure they are happy with both your products and the service you offer. Make a point of regularly asking your customers if there’s anything they’d like to see you doing differently and what would help them enjoy a better experience.

7. Reduce errors
Manual data entry is not only time-consuming, it leaves you vulnerable to mistakes that could prove a serious headache if they go unnoticed for any length of time. Automating more of your processes will reduce the risk of errors and improve efficiency – for example, the ability to automatically raise invoices from orders placed.

8. Update your business plan
Do you have a path mapped out for your company? Maintaining a detailed plan will enable you to set goals both in the short – and long-term – as well as identify any shortcomings or opportunities. Update and analyse business-critical elements such as cash flow levels on a regular basis.

9. Track employee efficiency
Harness your business software and HR add-ons to keep all your employee-related data in real-time. This will enable you to build a comprehensive picture of the resources you have for future planning – and ensure you know who’s doing what, where and when. Take advantage of data sharing opportunities too, such as the use of timesheets for invoice generation and payroll runs.

10. Encourage ideas
Your employees are a valuable source of information on how you’re doing, both in terms of highlighting in-house inefficiencies and relating customer experiences. Instigating simple measures, such as a dedicated email inbox for improvement ideas, or a weekly coffee break, will generate valuable insights and boost employee engagement.

Article supplied by Sage Ireland