4 Ways to Establish Operational Agility in Small Business
When you hear the word agile, it’s likely that you immediately envision someone in action—whether running, jumping, or even dancing. To be agile is to be able to move quickly and easily. In the business arena, we have something called operational agility, which means to be able to easily adapt and improve operational systems. So, if we compare operational agility to the image of a runner, we could say that a small business with operational agility is one that is able to encounter hurdles but swiftly jump over them. Would you say that this describes your small business? If not, we would like to share four tactics to help your small business establish operational agility.
In order to reach your business goals, let alone function properly, your small business must have a strong operations plan that outlines everything from daily routines to problem solving strategies. Here, standard operating procedures (SOPs) are very helpful, as they are essentially step-by-step instructions that guide your team members in various work processes. When management can establish processes for the way the business should run as a whole as well as outline the expectations for each department, team members can efficiently meet their goals with less room for error.
Part of being agile in operations requires that management regularly assess the processes that are in place in order to know what works and what doesn’t. One of the biggest hurdles for employers to overcome in operational agility is having a team that is either opposed to the current SOPs or team members that don’t understand their particular role in SOPs. For that reason, it would be wise to dialogue with team members to get input on how they have experienced the way operations run in their department, from their unique point of view, and discover ways you can turn their input into something actionable. Establishing processes for your small business is a team affair that is its own process in and of itself; therefore, the more collaboration the better!
Flexibility in Scheduling
One of the benefits of having a small business is that the organization as a whole can naturally be a bit more flexible in a variety of areas than a large company could. For instance, in terms of scheduling, employees can work outside of the normal 9 to 5 work schedule, depending on their obligations outside of work and the tasks that need to be accomplished that day. Of course, flexible hours don’t have to be routine, but it’s nice to incorporate a bit of flexibility for staff when they have emergencies. As long as they keep the contracted amount of hours, and they are getting their work done in a timely manner, you are doing yourself and your entire team a favor, by allowing your staff to work in a flexible environment.
Strong Organization Communication
Within any organization, communication is key. This includes communication from the management to the staff, from the staff to the executive management, and between departments and staff members. So often within large businesses, there is a flow of communication from the top down, but when it comes to the staff being able to communicate their ideas to the leadership, issues arise. In small businesses, however, the very nature of the small staff size allows for communication to be much more open to flow both directions. The same could be said of inter-departmental communication, and in businesses where one department’s success depends on the handing off of work from another department, it is imperative that communication be clear.
There are various ways to improve communication within your small business. Although there are many resources out there that allow team members to communicate through online networks, one of the best ways to develop strong communication is through regular meetings where issues can be discussed and solutions can be brainstormed face-to-face. Aside from team meetings, your small business could utilize applications that not only allow your staff to communicate through text, but also help them keep track of their tasks as they fit into the overall scheme of the team tasks.
To automate workflow is to streamline processes and remove repetitive, manual tasks through the use of technological resources. There used to be a joke when smartphones came on the scene… “there’s an app for that”. Though it may be a joke, it is still very true in terms of the tremendous availability of products that can be applied to various areas of business like accounting, sales, marketing, and HR. By automating tasks such as generating invoices, sending follow-up emails to clients, alerting staff of deadlines and changes, and more, employees have more free time to expend their energy performing tasks that require creativity and expertise.
Although each of the tactics we’ve outlined in this article may seem like standalone points, they actually all work together to improve operational agility. Automated workflow can include software that makes business processes, organizational communication and scheduling easier. Likewise, establishing strong communication can also help produce processes that work for both management and staff.
If you would like to know more about how to establish operational agility within your own small business, Tuxedo Impressions LLC™ is here to help. Contact us today for a consultation.
~ Jamara Wilson, Team Tuxedo Impressions LLC™