Growth is everything in business. If you’re not growing, you’re either stagnating or falling behind. So the opportunity for growth needs to be behind every business decision you make.
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But even while you’re focused on moving forward, your existing systems may be holding you back, creating what is known as business growth bottlenecks. Like a traffic jam on a production line, a bottleneck can create a backlog and slow everything to a crawl until it is spotted and resolved.
Identifying potential problems before they develop is always the best way to ensure maximum productivity. Here’s a fresh look at some common growth bottlenecks, how to identify and fix them and how to future-proof your business to prevent them from happening again.
Common growth bottlenecks within enterprises
Ken Hickey, the Head of Business Process Solutions at Converga, says “One of the largest bottlenecks to business growth is process distraction. Non-core functions that swallow up time and resources and distract the business from doing what they do best. All businesses require back-office processes to function effectively, even though it is not why they are in business.
Hickey further adds that “This makes a trusted business automation partner essential for any business in 2020; they can assist with eliminating process distractions, allowing your team to focus on what they do best.”
Some typical bottlenecks that can occur within a business can include;
- Unstructured work processes:Unmanaged one-off tasks that require a lot of time and specialist knowledge.
- Overly complex processes:Inefficient processes with too many steps, because they’ve always been done that way.
- Data overload:Too much-collected data and not enough resources or expertise to analyze it effectively.
- Non-user friendly technology:Productivity tools that require specialist IT knowledge to maintain and use effectively.
- Lack of scalability:Inflexible processes or technology that doesn’t allow for growth and
How to spot growth bottlenecks?
Finding and fixing bottlenecks is essential for business growth because each minor improvement you make to your processes can translate into major efficiency gains.
But growth bottlenecks are not always obvious. While you can often see the result they produce, you may need to do some back-tracking to identify the actual cause.
The best way to do this is by mapping the entire process from end to end using a flowchart or process mapping software. A process map would include the steps involved to achieve the end result, roles and responsibilities and acceptable and actual timeframes.
Once you have identified what is causing the bottleneck, you can then take steps to fix it, which may involve adding or removing a step or automating some element of the process to streamline it.
How you can eliminate bottlenecks?
In order to prevent bottlenecks from occurring, some long term planning is required. This could include;
- Building scalability: Improving collaboration and communication channels so that growth can be accommodated when it occurs.
- Hiring the right talent:Putting the right people in the right places to help prevent human-related bottlenecks and ensure everyone is focused on growth.
- Measuring improvements:Establishing a baseline for measuring improvements so you can gauge the success of your changes going forward.
How technology and outsourcing can eliminate bottlenecks?
Other ways you can eliminate potential growth bottlenecks include the use of technology and outsourcing.
Investing in technology such as a work execution platform (web-based task management software) can help you to efficiently plan, capture, manage, automate and report on your work processes. Such technology helps prevent bottlenecks by:
- Improving collaboration and visibility across the entire organization
- Eliminating information silos that can slow down decision making
- Providing a user-friendly interface that allows non-IT users to easily interact with the software
- Using dashboards to interpret and channel up-to-date and error-free data to relevant users
- Simplifying complex processes and automating basic and repetitive tasks.
Business process outsourcing (BPO)
The other way to eliminate growth bottlenecks is through business process outsourcing which involves outsourcing some of your processes to an outside provider. Entrusting specific tasks and activities to a trusted BPO partner can help to reduce pressure on your own team and free them up for more productive and profitable projects.
Not only can BPOs be more cost-effective than taking on extra fulltime employees, but outsourcing also allows you to leverage external expertise you might not normally have access to on an as-needed basis. A good BPO partner will also help to improve your process efficiency by assisting with your mapping and analysis as part of the continual improvement (CI) initiatives they offer.
They will also help you maintain any industry compliance standards you are required to adhere to, such as ISO 27001 and 9001. Best of all, business process outsourcing helps to free up your resources and lets you get on with growing your business, which is surely the biggest advantage of all.
Bottlenecks can occur in any business process and can be found and fixed in various ways. But because of the potential damage they can cause to your business, they need to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
If you encounter a bottleneck, you should attend to it immediately by reducing the strain and adding more people and resources to clear it. Only then can you start investigating its cause and formulating long term strategies to prevent its recurrence.