How to use technology to improve operational efficiency
Enhancing operational efficiency through technology: an introduction
Operational efficiency; a buzzword that you may be familiar with. When your business is operating at peak efficiency, it will help to reduce costs, improve customer service and experience, encourage innovation and allow your organisation to tread lightly across the environment. Efficient operations also provide an edge over competitors and can ensure that you meet your goals more quickly and easily. While improving your business practises takes time, the advantages greatly outweigh the challenges. Today, we’re going to introduce you to the topic of operational efficiency and explain how you can improve yours through the use of technology.
Defining what it means to be operationally efficient
Operational efficiency is the ability of a business or organisation to produce or deliver a desired output with the least amount of input. In short; it’s working smarter, not harder to accomplish your goals.
Efficiency can be measured in a number of ways including time tracked, deliverables, the ratio of output to input, and the amount of waste produced. The objective of becoming more efficient varies from business to business, but may include reducing running or production costs, increasing productivity, reducing wasted time and/or resources or becoming more sustainable.
How you can use technology to improve operational efficiency
Let’s explore some of the ways in which you can use technology to improve your businesses’ productivity, efficiency and costs.
Transitioning from paper-based processes to digital solutions might not sound revolutionary, but it’s an essential first step if your business hasn’t already addressed it. Manual paperwork is not only time-consuming but also incurs additional expenses such as storage costs and the risk of manual error and document loss. It takes a significant amount of time to print, file and retrieve documents.
Introducing an electronic document management system will eliminate the need for physical paperwork, reducing clutter and simplifying and automating the approval or reviews process. In addition to this, electronic documents can be shared securely and worked on collaboratively; enhancing communication and expediting decision-making.
In the healthcare system, the move to paperless documentation has been a success. A study by the NHS found that hospitals that have implemented electronic health records (EHRs) save an average of £5 million per year by eliminating the administrative time required to maintain paperwork.
The benefits of going paperless go far beyond just improving operational efficiency, though. By using EHRs, healthcare providers can access patient information at the point of care which can lead to faster and more accurate treatment and diagnosis. With practitioner-wide access to patient records updated in real time, frontline healthcare workers can better coordinate care and reduce the risk of errors; improving patient outcomes and safety.
Where do you start with going paperless? Introduce technology such as tablets and handheld computers in place of traditional paperwork.
Use mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and handheld computers
By introducing devices such as rugged tablets and handheld computers in place of traditional paperwork, you can dramatically improve your productivity and communication and reduce your costs. These devices allow employees to access information and complete their tasks from anywhere; saving significant amounts of time compared to having to return back to HQ to complete their work.
Research by Deloitte in 2018 found that almost a third of the UK working population (10.4 million people) could be using smartphones to be more productive at work as the majority of Uk workers (51%) spend at least some time away from a fixed location for their role. Industries that would particularly benefit from modernisation include the construction industry.
Technology solutions for the construction industry focus heavily on the use of mobile devices to improve communication, productivity, and safety. The construction industry lags far behind many others in its approach to technology, but embracing rugged devices which include features designed specifically to make your workforces lives easier could positively impact your bottom line.
Learn more about how rugged devices could make your workforce more productive here.
Customers are more likely to make a purchase if they can pay for their item or service immediately, and mobile devices not only allow customers to do that, but by being able to do so quickly and efficiently, the overall experience is also improved!
In a retail setting, this might look like staff using mobile point-of-sale (POS) systems to accept payments from anywhere in the store rather than having to join a queue. In hospitality, front of house staff can use a mobile app to allow customers to order food and drink from their table. Not only does this reduce pressure on staff, but also provides the opportunity for upsells and improves customer satisfaction by reducing wait times. Finally, a service provider could use a mobile app to allow customers to schedule appointments and pay for services; improving efficiency and productivity.
Automated inventory and stock management
For manufacturers, there’s a huge opportunity to enhance your operational efficiency through automated inventory and stock management. This is the process of using technology to track and manage inventory levels. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, including barcode scanners, RFID tags and cloud-based inventory control systems.
There are a number of benefits of introducing stock management solutions into your workflow including improved accuracy, efficiency and reduced costs. Automated systems are incredibly efficient at ensuring that inventory records are kept up-to-date which can help prevent both stockouts and overstocking.
This in turn improves your warehouse management and can reduce your costs as you are using the exact amount of space required to keep your business running at optimal capacity. Automated systems can also take the pressure off repetitive, manual, jobs which are often mistake-prone and can lead to job dissatisfaction. This includes tasks such as counting stock and frees up your workforce to focus on other tasks such as customer service or innovation.
You can download our guide on using automation to help with warehouse order picking here.
In summary, the benefits of operational efficiency include reduced costs, enhanced safety, and increased revenue and productivity. By implementing these suggestions, as well as other technology-based solutions, you can work towards achieving your goals ahead of time.
Interested in learning more about how technology could help you streamline your operations? Get in touch with us today!