Strategies for minimising waste and maximising productivity

By Boost Business Lancashire

16 May 2024

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Inefficient business processes can significantly impact a company's bottom line, hinder its ability to meet consumer demand, and create unnecessary challenges for your business.

Without effective management, small issues that go undetected can grow into real problems and in the worst cases, put your business at risk.

In our latest blog post, Boost business adviser, Jaan Scott outlines methods for measuring and enhancing your business efficiency.

Understanding waste and efficiency

To maximise efficiency, we must understand what constitutes waste. Waste is anything that does not contribute value to the final product or service, for example excess inventory, overproduction, defects, long waiting time, unnecessary movement, and overprocessing.

Strategies for waste reduction

Identify and eliminate waste: Drawing from lean manufacturing principles, the first step is to identify and eliminate all forms of waste. Conducting a thorough analysis of production processes allows for the implementation of measures aimed at enhancing efficiency.

For instance, adopting a just-in-time inventory system can mitigate excess inventory and the associated carrying costs, thus optimising resource utilisation.

Empower and train employees: Employee involvement is pivotal in driving continuous improvement efforts. Empowering and training employees to actively participate in problem-solving cultivates a culture of ownership and innovation.

Leveraging the knowledge and experience of staff helps to enable businesses to identify inefficiencies and implement effective solutions collaboratively.

Streamline workflows: Optimising workflow processes is essential for maximising efficiency. By reorganising workstations, refining the layout of production floors, and standardising work processes, businesses can minimise unnecessary movement and enhance productivity.

A prime example is how McDonald's streamlined the fast-food kitchen concept, which assigned specific tasks to kitchen staff and facilitated direct ingredient delivery, resulting in faster service and consistent quality.

Practical ways to improve business efficiency

As businesses strive to optimise operations, several practical strategies can be implemented to further improve efficiency and productivity. These include:

Automate your processes: Embracing automation in workflow processes – for example inventory allocation and financial management – streamlines operations and minimises human error. This not only accelerates production but also liberates employees to focus on value-added tasks, fostering engagement and productivity.

Minimise your meetings: While meetings are essential for effective communication, excessive meetings can disrupt productivity. Instead, opt for brief, purpose-driven check-ins to plan agendas and foster collaboration, thereby minimising interruptions, and maximising efficiency.

Prioritise your focus: Multitasking may seem efficient, but research suggests it often diminishes productivity. Encourage employees to focus on one task at a time to enhance concentration and task completion rates, ultimately improving overall performance.

Identify and document your best practices: Establishing standard operating procedures and documenting best practices ensures consistency and clarity across the organisation. Creating an employee handbook that facilitates training and aligns staff with established protocols can reduce the need for managerial oversight while promoting autonomy.

As you strive to implement these strategies, consider deepening your understanding by exploring further insights and practical guidance in our upcoming workshop ‘Productivity Boost – Minimising waste and maximising efficiency.’ Here, you'll gain actionable insights and hands-on guidance to transform your business operations.

About the author

As a Boost business adviser, Jaan is on hand to help leaders of growing companies to increase their capacity to innovate and achieve accelerated growth. His role involves leadership and management support, providing practical tools and the know-how to help business leaders with business strategy and to execute plans.

He has spent 15 years operating manufacturing businesses across the region, then a further 10 years as founder of a consultancy business that supports over 1,000 SMEs across the North West to achieve sustainable accelerated growth.

Jaan is delivering Boost's Scale to Thrive Masterclass 'Productivity Boost – Minimising Waste and Maximising Efficiency' in June.

If you’re looking to grow, scale or start your business, use Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub. We offer a range of funded business support services. Call our Business Support Helpdesk on 0800 488 0057 to find out more.

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