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Saving time and trouble: 9 tips for process optimization in crafts and  trades

Time is money: this is especially true in crafts and trades. And therefore, processes that do not run smoothly are particularly annoying. However, missing spare parts, incorrectly planned timings or staff bottlenecks can be avoided in many cases. Read here how to get a grip on disruptive factors.

Imagine having a date with friends to meet up for drinks on a nice summer evening – and then having to cancel because once again everything went wrong, your colleague is on holiday and you will have to work overtime instead. Often enough, this is not due to spontaneous bottlenecks, but to avoidable errors within the system. Process optimisation is the magic word here. But where and how to start? These practical tips offer valuable starting points for optimization:

  1. Analyse, question and document existing processes
    According to a study by the American market research institute Gartner, the efficiency of a process increases by around 15 percent simply through its documentation. Because by taking a closer look, you become aware of the existing weak points. Take care to involve experienced employees: often, everybody knows what exactly what is going wrong – but no one ever asks.
  2. Define responsibilities: who does what?
    It is important for efficient processes that each participant knows his role: who is responsible for the implementation – and who is accountable for the results? Who must inform, who must be informed? Who is in charge of individual processes?
  3. Reduce the number of points of contact and distribute tasks
    Many tasks move from employee to employee because everyone is only responsible for a small part of it – and a single bottleneck in this chain slows down the entire process. It is more efficient to design routine tasks in such a way that they can be carried out by a single employee so time-consuming interfaces can be eliminated.
  4. Optimise IT systems
    Many companies work with several different programs that do not communicate with each other: For example, the billing system cannot access the data from the customer management software the salesforce uses. The result: avoidable manual extra work. The optimisation of the IT infrastructure therefore plays an essential role in smoother processes.
  5. Organizing of warehouse and inventory
    Missing spare parts cause delays and cost money – too much inventory ties up capital. Having a precise overview of goods received and goods going out results in better planning and avoiding waste.
  6. Create added value through investments
    Sometimes you have to invest to save money: maybe in a new machine, maybe in IT, maybe in new premises. For example, if a machine saves material and accelerates processes at the same time, employees have more time for services that cannot be automated. It is essential, though, that the quality is not compromised.
  7. Make suppliers and partners accountable
    Partners and suppliers are an important part of the value chain – what is not delivered cannot be processed, and the poor quality of a spare part impairs one’s own processes. A critical analysis of existing cooperations does no harm, even if one only realizes that all is as good as can be.
  8. Check throughput times and processing times
    The processing time is defined by the actual time needed to complete a particular task. The throughput time is the time it takes from request to completion. If as task theoretically needs a processing time of 5 hours, but the throughput time is 5 days, then you should put your processes to the test.
  9. Raise and sharpen awareness
    Last, but definitely not least: Above all, employees, but also partners, must not be left out. They need to develop an awareness that inefficient processes and waste are harmful to everyone in the long term. Smaller problems in particular can often be solved with a little mindfulness and common sense.

We wish you much success in optimizing your processes!

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