Steps to Streamline Your Business


Streamlining is a set of tasks and tools that are aimed at improving individual operations or all of the company’s activities. This optimization is often misinterpreted by some executives, thinking that it means reducing the number of employees. This measure is applicable only in the case when competent management and improvement of business processes in the company has led to a decrease in the burden on employees. However, the list of possible solutions is not limited to dismissal.

By streamlining business processes, it is possible to:

       speed up the execution of operations;

       reduce the cost of goods or services;

       improve product quality and customer satisfaction;

       make the progress of operations and the allocation of resources more transparent;

       improve control over business activities;

       get free resources and space for development;

       improve the planning and management system.

How to understand that business process streamlining is needed?

Some signs indicate that a company needs to streamline its business processes:

1.      Due to inconsistency, decisions and operations take a long time to complete.

2.      Business processes in the enterprise are not controlled (there is no owner of the business process).

3.      The quality of services or products is lower than expected, the return rate is high, and buyers leave negative reviews.

4.      Control is mainly carried out not over the result of work, but employees.

5.      There is no division of responsibility by level.

6.      Communication between departments is poor. For instance, salespeople are unaware of promotions.

7.      The number of employees and departments is growing, but the results are not changing, and incomes are decreasing.

Step-by-step instructions for streamlining business processes

Step 1. Determine the optimization goal

The goal of optimization depends on the strategy of the business, its type of activity and the position of the company in the market. Here are some examples of optimization goals:


       optimization of costs and reduction of the cost of goods;

       reduction of the production time;

       shorter delivery times.

Step 2. Describe business processes as they are

At this step, you need to analyze and describe the business processes soberly. To do this, you need to make a list of all processes and answer the following questions for each:


       What are the “entry” and “exit” from the business process?

       What procedures does the process involve?

       Who performs each procedure?

       What is the result of its implementation? (You can try to evaluate the results in money)

       Who gets the result, and what does he do with it?


As a result, you have a detailed map. When analyzing it, all the advantages and disadvantages of the business activities are revealed. This helps to clarify the list of tasks and goals.

Step 3. Search for flaws and bottlenecks

Just like in Forex trading, at this stage, it is necessary to identify problem areas of both individual business processes and the business as a whole. There may be recurrent problems. An example of a bottleneck in a separate business process: on weekends, a furniture showroom in Nigeria is visited by a sufficient number of buyers, but sales are not growing. The bottleneck is sales assistants: there are as many of them on weekends as on weekdays. As a result, customers come, they are not paid attention to, and there is no sale.

At this stage of the analysis, take into account:

       competitors’ performance;

       your opening hours;

       the number of employees;

       quality of goods;

       customer benefits;

       niche features.

Step 4. Description of the desired business process

After describing business processes as they are and identifying bottlenecks, you need to describe how it should be. A simple example from the Forextime blog: a sales manager talks to a customer on the phone and enters information into an Excel spreadsheet. Often, the client needs to call back at certain intervals, but the manager does not have a tool that would remind him of communication with the buyer.


In this example, the desired result is that the client receives reminders in the morning about whom he needs to call, at what stage of negotiations he is and other important information. A CRM system can be a good solution. But to come to such a decision, you must first describe the vision of the future result. When you understand how it should be, you can find the optimal solution.

Step 5. Implementing changes

At this stage, it is crucial to be flexible and calculate the risks. The fact is that all business processes are interconnected and changing one of them can lead to negative consequences for the other. For instance, you realized that the bottleneck was salesmen and consultants, you hired 5 more people, orders increased, but production ceased to cope with them. A rejection began to arise due to haste, as a result — dissatisfied customers and a lot of complaints.


To avoid such risks, you can implement changes in individual business processes gradually. For instance, as in the example with a furniture store, first, take 1-2 consultants who will work on weekends and see how the revenue changes and how the production will cope with orders.


Get outside experts to take a detached view of your business. At the same time, do not be tempted by low prices: put the quality of services in the first place.

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