The goal of an efficient business is one that is a goal aspired to by any business. After all who wants to be inefficient? But actually achieving the goal of an efficient business is harder to achieve than it is to aspire to, which is why so many businesses struggle when it comes to efficiency. Yet this is where design comes in, for it is possible to design an efficient business without a huge amount of effort.
Efficiency and Waste
1. Waste is the antonym of efficiency, since an efficient business is not wasteful. So an efficient business has to be designed in such a way that waste is minimised. This is not just waste in terms of using too much electricity or wasting paper etc. Waste, according to Lean thinking, is about any unnecessary use of resources, whether that is staffing costs, resources, raw materials and so on. In short it is anything that does not add value to any process. Staff will need to be trained in this and to adopt it as a philosophy.
2. An efficient business needs to be designed in such a way that waste is not generated. This could mean designing it so that raw materials for products are kept close to the areas that they will be used, meaning that they do not have to be transported (with the risk of things being broken or damaged and resources being used to transport the items).
3. All aspects of the business need to be examined in detail before an efficient business can be created. In short it has to be applied to each section within a business, or else there is a risk that designing one aspect of the business could lead to waste being generated in another part of the business.
4. Within an existing business all processes and methods of operation need to be examined to ensure that they are as efficient and effective as possible, without any waste being generated. In new businesses they need to be designed so that this is the case.
5. The key to any efficient business is undoubtedly technology. Technology can be used to automate processes and also to automate analysis and interpretation of facts and statistics.
6. Sometimes there can be a natural resistance to technology with business owners thinking that they will suddenly become enslaved by technology and what happens if it goes wrong. However, the use of technology is now so widespread that all competitors will be using technology and failure to utilise it will simply result in failure overall; it has to be done. So all staff need to be trained in technology and its uses.
7. However the technology used has to be designed to meet the needs of the business. There is no point in simply buying software or applications because they were good value for money or you heard that a competitor used them. You need to ensure that all technology and all the software that you use is tailor made to suit your own particular needs and the skill set of your employees.
8. Staff are the main resource in any business so all staff need to be trained in how to think about continuously improving the business and making it more efficient. The business also has to offer them something too and be efficient because of their will to make it so, so creating an environment that is conducive to working in is important.
9. An efficient business makes use of the latest ways in which energy levels can be reduced, whether through the use of bio-mass or simply installing energy efficient lightbulbs and making sure that all insulation is in place. This will not save huge amounts of money, but is a step in the right direction!
10. Finally, all efficient businesses are one step ahead of the competitors, but it is important not to rest on your laurels; instead an efficient business will have built in procedures to ensure that one eye remains on watch to see what your competitors are up to…..

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