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6 Ways to Improve Operational Efficiency

Learn the benefits of operational efficiency and 6 ways to improve it to maximize output and gain a competitive advantage.

By Hannah Ross  •   May 15, 2023  •   7 min read

A business’s operations are at the core of everything it does. If your operations aren’t efficient, you could be wasting tens of thousands of dollars in money and effort. Achieving operational efficiency is a long game, but the benefits are second to none. An operationally efficient organization will reduce waste and costs, improve and maintain quality, and boost productivity and efficiency. 

In this article, we’ll teach you how to use your resources—like time, people, equipment, inventory, and money—to serve your organization. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of operational efficiency in addition to tips and tricks for improving operational efficiency within your organization. 

What is operational efficiency? 

Operational efficiency refers to maximizing output while minimizing input and reducing waste, inefficiencies, and unnecessary costs. This means that an organization can make the most out of its resources including, but not limited to, time, money, and labor. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to operational efficiency since it instead requires continuous effort. Achieving and maintaining operational efficiency within an organization requires ongoing monitoring, analysis, and improvement of processes and systems. 

Operational efficiency can be achieved in a variety of ways, including leveraging technology and data analytics to improve decision-making, streamlining processes and systems, automating tasks, reducing errors and defects, optimizing supply chains and logistics, and more. To achieve optimal operational efficiency, you need to regularly identify areas of improvement, implement changes, measure results, and make adjustments that ensure current processes and systems are improving and sustainable. 

Why is operational efficiency important? 

Operational efficiency is a crucial component of every successful business. Operational efficiency is important to organizations for several reasons, including the accompanying benefits such as heightened productivity, reduced costs, improved quality of goods or services, and greater profitability. Organizations that optimize operational efficiency are also more likely to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty as consumers tend to have a greater appreciation for organizations that are efficient, reliable, and focused on quality. By optimizing processes and systems, using resources more effectively, and prioritizing continuous development, organizations can achieve sustainable success while maintaining a competitive advantage. 

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The benefits of improving operational efficiency

1Reduced costs

By prioritizing operational efficiency, organizations can reduce operating costs and improve profitability. Operational efficiency helps save costs by reducing waste, minimizing errors and defects, optimizing supply chain and logistics, and automating tasks.

2Increased productivity

Improving operational efficiency means your team is optimized and working efficiently. Operational efficiency improves productivity by streamlining processes, reducing errors and time needed to repeat tasks, improving communication and collaboration among peers and cross-functional teams, and optimizing resource utilization. 

3Improved decision making

Achieving operational efficiency can greatly impact how everyone within your organization makes decisions by providing timely and accurate data, standardizing processes, automating tasks, and improving collaboration and communication. Instead of making decisions on a whim, you can now make more informed decisions backed by data and concrete insights. 

4Increased competitive advantage

Operational efficiency helps organizations develop a competitive edge over competing businesses by creating a more nimble environment that thrives on growth and perpetual change. When an organization achieves operational efficiency, it’s able to lower costs, improve delivery times, increase quality, and prioritize innovation. Each one of these aspects contributes to long-term success, which helps to create and maintain a competitive advantage. 

Example of operational efficiency 

Achieving operational efficiency can be difficult. However, Amazon has nailed it on the head. Amazon is a leader in the e-commerce space, largely due to its dedication to efficiency and reliability. The company’s dedication to efficiency and reliability has enabled it to become a market leader, delivering goods and services quickly and efficiently to billions of consumers around the world. 

The company’s robust logistics system includes a vast network of fulfillment centers, all strategically located near major city centers and densely populated areas. This enables Amazon to improve delivery times and customer experiences. The company also leverages advanced technologies to optimize the movement of goods and minimize logistical errors, also striving to improve consumer experiences. The organization is constantly iterating and improving in an attempt to provide more positive consumer experiences while dominating the market, making it an organization that nails operational efficiency. 

How to improve operational efficiency

1Identify and eliminate inefficiencies

The first step to improving operational efficiency is identifying and eliminating bottlenecks or inefficiencies. This means taking the time to conduct a thorough analysis of your organization and providing solutions based on your findings. This process could include streamlining processes, automating appropriate tasks, or reorganizing workflows. 

2Optimize workflows

Next, it’s time to optimize workflows. There may be many workflows that exist within your organization that aren’t optimized. This means you’re wasting valuable resources doing something the same way over and over again instead of optimizing your current systems. Optimizing your workflows may involve reassigning tasks to different team members, improving communication between teams, or implementing new technologies to speed up processes. 

Did you know that there are several tasks within the meeting workflow that can be optimized? Fellow’s meeting automations make it possible to save time and resources by automating other parts of the meeting workflow including, but not limited to, reminding participants to contribute to and review the agenda, canceling the meeting if there is nothing substantial to talk about, or even just sending out a meeting recap afterward to all stakeholders.

3Standardize processes

Now that you’ve optimized your workflows, it’s time to create a sense of consistency by standardizing your processes. Taking the time to standardize processes across your organization will ensure everyone is following the same procedures and using the same tools. This will help to eliminate variability and ensure that work is being completed consistently and efficiently across the entire organization. 

4Invest in technology

While it may require an initial investment upfront, investing in innovative technologies will do wonders for your organization. Not only will doing so boost productivity and efficiency, but it will also help you automate processes, streamline workflows, and provide real-time data insights that can be used to shape future business decisions. 

5Monitor and measure performance

Monitoring and measuring performance is key to gauging success and identifying areas that need improvement. The process of measuring and monitoring performance may involve setting key performance indicators (KPIs) and regularly reviewing them or using data analytics tools to track performance in real time. 

With Fellow, you can stay on top of your team’s goals by clearly recording, defining, and tracking the progress of your objectives and key results (OKRs) in Fellow’s Objectives tool. The best part? You can quickly review those objectives during your team meetings, so you never lose track of important metrics or milestones. Simply link your objectives with a team meeting and you’re good to go! From here you can easily review progress, resolve challenges, and keep all OKRs on track.

6Provide training and development

Providing training and development opportunities to employees to help them develop new skills and improve their performance is crucial when striving to improve operational efficiency. Providing training and development opportunities will help ensure everyone is working at their highest potential and can contribute to improving overall operational efficiency.

Factors that impact operational efficiency 

1Management and leadership

Everything comes from the top down in an organization, meaning if management isn’t working towards becoming more operationally efficient, neither will the employees. If management fails to use resources wisely and doesn’t prioritize perpetual growth, neither will the employees. Management and leadership must be on board to improve and sustain operational efficiency. 

2Resource utilization 

To maximize operational efficiency, you need to make the most of your resources. This means making the most of your time, money, and labor. Organizations that fail to use their resources wisely are not able to achieve operational efficiency. 

3Metrics measurement

A lack of operational efficiency can often be attributed to poorly measuring metrics. Failing to measure metrics and keep track of key insights means you will never have the data or insights necessary to pivot and make improvements when necessary. Accurately measuring metrics will ensure you have the resources you need to optimize operational efficiency. 

4Employee skills and training 

You can’t expect your employees to thrive if they haven’t been provided with the appropriate training. If you want to improve organizational efficiency, you have to make sure your employees are equipped to do so. This means hiring candidates with the appropriate skill sets and upskilling or providing internal training programs for existing employees. 

How are you going to improve operational efficiency in your organization? 

Congratulations, you officially have everything you need to improve operational efficiency within your organization! Be sure to apply some of these tips and best practices moving forward, and don’t forget to check out the Fellow blog for more productivity hacks!

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