I have learned a lot about efficiency vs effectiveness; which should never be assumed to be the same. I have seen owners of companies and employees of the like try to be effective at being efficient. The fact of the matter is that most anyone can be efficient at tasks while not being effective at all. The key differences are rooted within the results that are created from the activities.
Case in point, SOPs (standard operating processes). I find it hard to believe that most owners of companies will not be willing to invest the appropriate amount of time necessary to document a process or solution so that others can benefit from that knowledge. For example, let’s say that Mr. BusinessOwner is telling one of their brand new employees how to get enrolled and setup in the benefits program at work. Sounds like a simple and easy task. Now let’s say that this employee becomes one of one hundred that get hired that year. That same owner is now challenged with explaining this same very basic function 100 times which in turn requires that they spend this wasted time going through this elementary task. In hindsite, the business owner simply had to create a simple one page document explaining how to get this completed and would have never been forced to waste anymore of their time when the other 100+ employees join their team.
I am in the process of doing this right now for one of my companies. For example, I am creating a documentation system utilizing tools such as Screensteps.com, Desk.com and Salesforce.com to get this completed. I made sure that these applications all worked together so that one application would benefit from the knowledge of the next. This in turn allows for my team to have one central documentation system that works effortlessly with multiple departments (as well as facets) of the business. Let me explain further, Screensteps is used to author the document and then the document uploads the document to our Desk.com and SFDC products. Desk.com is used for our customer support system while SFDC is our central operations application is the host of our internal wiki.
The technology toolsets you use are not as important as how you set them up. I have seen owners with no more than a three ring binder that contains documented procedures for how to do every function within the business (inclusive on how to purchase toilet paper) and seen it be very successful. The principal is what is important. Focus on creating an effective environment for yourself. You don’t need to be an owner of a company to reap these benefits. I have witnessed sales executives (typically the most time wasting of resources, and I speak candidly to this as I was one for almost ten years) revolutionize their work and personal life with a few simple changes. One was to outsource their non-commission focused activities to virtual assistants (expense reports, etc.). To do this effectively, you must use simple documented procedures to ensure that the virstual assistant is aware of how to complete these tasks effectively.
Small piece of advice, start small. Take a few of the challenges you have to explain daily / monthly and create a simple document that you can share. Once that you find you no longer have to take the time to explain this procedure again and again, you will be sold on the concept. More to come on increasing effectiveness……