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Maximizing efficiency is a priority for every enterprise, especially those occupied with manufacturing or time sensitive delivery of products/services. But when companies begin to make a serious effort to improve efficiency, they often discover that the problem runs much deeper than they realized.

Close examination reveals that inefficiency is not an isolated problem in a few workflows, but a systemic issue that compromises the efforts of everyone. A minor problem is unmasked as a major hurdle and a troubling failure.

The reason it’s so easy to underestimate the problem of inefficiency is because companies often fail to realize how one instance of falling short has effects that spread and linger. That means solving the problem has less to do with making specific fixes and more to do with resolving the issues that let inefficiency creep throughout an organization and grow in the process. These are the areas to focus on if you want to make meaningful improvements:

Access

Think of how frustrating it is trying to reference a piece of information that you do not have access to. In many organizations, data is siloed between departments, meaning that access is either inefficient or impossible. The time wasted trying to get access to a necessary piece of data or complete a task when you don’t have the complete picture is a delay that is probably repeated daily across every department of your organization.

Communication

The free flow of information is essential if your company is going to fire on all cylinders. But more often information is restricted or obstructed. That means when your team needs to communicate with each other, they are forced to operate on different pages. Too often, valuable time is wasted trying to facilitate a communication rather than productively exchanging ideas.

Inputs

A major source of inefficiency at organizations large and small has to do with the amount of human input required in every workflow. Rather than rely on automated order to cash tools like ERP to handle time and labor-intensive processes, companies use an army of professionals to handle what amounts to data entry. They embrace inefficiency out of a mistaken belief that automation will create more problems than solutions.

Collaboration

The goal of any organization is to become a sum that is greater than its parts. But in order for that to happen, team members must be able to collaborate productively and efficiently. When there are roadblocks to how they share ideas, access information, and combine efforts, it only degrades the talent that is unique to your organization and central to your success.

Culture

The companies that have been the most successful at reducing inefficiency realize that no single solution will fix the problem. Rather, it takes a cultural shift to begin recognizing the true causes of inefficiency and making lasting improvements. For instance, having a data management strategy in place is essential for handling the complexity of today’s markets. But many businesses forego this step, or only pay it lip service. Until you become focused on making your company stronger rather than simply making it less weak, inefficiency will always be a problem.

There are countless solutions on the market claiming to boost efficiency. Some are technical, others involve training, and others still border on self-help strategies. As you look for the right solution, focus on one that can address all the issues discussed above. The last thing you want is for one inefficiency to simply be replaced by another. Identifying an all-encompassing solution that can bloom throughout your organization is the only way to root out the inefficiencies you know about, along with all the ones you don’t.

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