Just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the failure of a business typically happens not due to one dramatic, cataclysmic event, but because of an accumulation of small workflow management missteps. Frequently those small but damaging erosions of time revolve around a lack of effective task management.
Inconspicuous time-wasters that rob you of 90 seconds per hour for each employee, for instance, may not seem like a big deal. But if you have a team of 10 people that adds up to 15 minutes of lost productivity per hour. That’s 25% of every hour – or two hours out of every 8-hour shift. Using a 5-day work week as the standard, that adds up to 10 hours lost each week. Multiply that by four weeks and you lose 40 hours a month, which is an entire work week for the average wage earner.
Rank and file employees are not the only ones who may be less productive, however, and oftentimes the biggest loss of productivity is amongst managers, top executives, and owners. Those who primarily process knowledge and information, for example, tend to spend needless hours on weekly to-do lists that could be delegated. The head of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School, along with a colleague, spent three years analyzing workplace productivity and found that, on average, “knowledge workers” spend more than 40% of their time on activities that could be capably handled by others.
The good news is that by taking a closer look at how managers and owners spend their time – and by more efficiently utilizing the time of hourly employees – it is possible to significantly boost productivity while reducing overhead. Meanwhile, never before has it been easier to monitor, track, and organize time – and the precious human resources that it represents. Digital technologies such as checklist apps, record keeping software, and task managers are so adaptable you can literally carry them in the palm of your hand. The price points have dropped, too, so these tools are available even to small and mid-sized businesses. Sophisticated enterprise software is now affordable, too, and can be acquired as simply as downloading a smartphone app. Companies – including your competitors – are using these new programs and applications to optimize everything from restaurant employee schedules to process mapping for manufacturing or inventory control for the retail sector.
There is little or no learning curve, either, so you don’t have to be tech-savvy to leverage these resources, nor do you have to devote valuable employee hours to training in order to successfully deploy them across your organization. You may think that the biggest obstacle to the implementation of advanced software and apps is the infrastructure required – but that prerequisite has also been eliminated as digital tech proliferates. All you really need is a Wi-Fi connection and the desire to upgrade your business systems and protocols, and you can have time, labor, and money-saving technology up and running almost instantly.
The typical entrepreneur or small to medium-sized company won’t even have to set aside substantial capital in order to acquire the applications they want and need. That’s because within a matter of months or even weeks the overall savings will more than compensate for the cost of implementation. That’s the kind of return on investment and fantastic technological asset that today’s businesses cannot afford to ignore.