In organizations of all sizes, operational breakdowns occur on a regular basis. Major issues such as a machinery malfunction on a manufacturing line are normally addressed fairly quickly. However, minor issues such as an inefficient workflow processes often go unnoticed for years. Whether the issue is major or minor, operational problems can have severe consequences and in some cases endanger the viability of the organization.
To ensure your company operates smoothly and efficiently, it is important to have processes in place to identify operational issues at the outset, so they can quickly be addressed. Here are some helpful tips for maximizing operational problem solving:
Identify Organizational “Pain Points”
In order to solve a problem, you need to acknowledge that it exists in the first place. We know how difficult this can be for individuals, and the same is often true with organizations. For example, your equipment leasing company may be turning a profit and pleasing the owners. But at the same time, you may be using outdated computer software that is making you less efficient verses your competition. For many inside the organization, this may not be a “pain point.” However, if it is not eventually addressed, you may wake up one day and find yourself so far behind your peers, it is nearly impossible to catch up. It is essential to identify issues like these when you are in a strong position to address them, rather than when you are fighting for survival.
Address the Root Cause(s) of the Problem
With any operational problem, there are surface issues and root issues. A surface issue may be something like why does it take up to a week to process a loan? This long turnaround time hurts the company because competitors are doing it in two business days. But you cannot just say “we need to reduce turnaround time”. You need to go to the root causes to find out why it is taking so long. In most cases, the root causes will be related to operational efficiency and breakdowns in processes that are causing delays. These breakdowns will need to be fixed before you can consider the problem solved.
Bring in a Fresh Perspective
Members of the organization are often at a severe disadvantage in solving operational problems. It is a matter of simple human nature; when you are on the inside, you are around something so often that to you, everything seems normal. In many cases, it is necessary to bring in an outsider’s perspective to objectively dissect the pain points of your organization and implement a solution that effectively maximizes your problem solving processes.