When you think of construction, you probably think of all the work that goes on in the field. It’s obviously more visible. While fieldwork is the revenue backbone of any construction business, it is easy to forget that back-office efficiency is also crucial for keeping projects moving along successfully. As companies continue to grow, back-office operations can begin to get sloppy, hurting business productivity. Keeping business efficiency at a maximum is vital to keep operations running smooth, getting high productivity from your employees, and staying ahead of your competitors when it comes to getting contracts. Below I have outlined the best tips on how to improve back-office efficiency.
Tips on improving back-office efficiency
1) Study how work gets processed
Once work is assigned, you should focus on seeing how your employees carry out their tasks. You can gather this information by taking videos and speaking to staff members, so you can see for yourself how the work is handled. Study all the different processes individually to reveal how long tasks take and all the different skills and resources needed to process each request. Doing this will enable you to track productivity and identify potential gains and losses.
2) Eliminate non-value adding activities
Non-value adding activates are essentially waste, neither the client or the business benefit from them. Examples can include employees having unbalanced workloads or the unnecessary movement of files and documents. One way to prevent such tasks from happening is to practice error-proofing.
The idea behind error-proofing is to achieve zero errors either through preventing them or automatically detecting them. This method is best put into practice if you experience a loss of time due to rework or see many mistakes occuring in the workplace.
3) Try changing things up
Your back-office efficiency might be hurting from years of relying on the same processes. You can always experiment with something new to improve your business’s productivity. For example, you could attempt to change your office’s layout to facilitate better department communication or restructure your methods of communicating between the field and office.
Improving communication can save valuable time, helping to streamline your processes. A period of trial and error is likely to exist until the best methods are found, but it will pay off in the end.
4) Introduce SIM
Another potential change is to try incorporating short interval management (SIM) into your business. Practicing SIM is similar to having a group meeting every morning. In these meetings, members should share what they accomplished the day before, what they plan to do in the current day, and any challenges they are experiencing to complete their work.
In a group setting, members should discuss ideas that help to eliminate any challenges before they become a problem. When conducting these meetings, it will help to have visuals in the room showing key performance indicator charts with trends. This will give employees a better insight to see how the business is meeting its goals and objectives.
5) Build a continuous improvement culture
In order to really improve back-office efficiency, your business should be constantly looking to solve problems and find ways to improve the work being done. Using SIM is a great way to practice structured team-based problem-solving to defeat any challenges. Your executive management team also needs to be held accountable.
Company operators, managers, and owners should get together to map existing processes, then identify new opportunities for improvement. Also, make sure to give your staff visibility to see and track their impact on the company. The ability to see their results along with recognizing their success is key to building a culture of continuous improvement.
6) Invest in a software
Technology is reshaping businesses everywhere to improve efficiency. Some of the benefits to using a software include accounting integration for faster handling of important financial documents and digitalized content to allow for better access and control of important files like timesheets, requests for information (RFI), and change orders. The software can also help to:
– Collect data that tracks the average handle times of different tasks
– Provide metrics that assess individual, department, and business performance
– Provide reporting on various activities needed by role – manager or supervisor
Always remember that your back-office operation is just as important to your business as the work being done out in the field. Use the above tips to improve back-office efficiency because it will translate into improvements to your bottom line. Always look for ways to improve your processes, even if it means having to try something different. To get the ball rolling, see how project management software can give your business the boost it needs.