Tips to improve your business

Business improvement strategies help identify parts of your business that need to be refined or could perform better.

There are various strategies that are useful for identifying where you could improve, including methodologies, tools, actions and activities that focus on different parts of your business.

Improving one area in your business will often have positive flow-on effects for other areas as well.

On this page

Types of improvement

As your business changes, you will need to assess areas of improvement across your business to ensure it is running and operating at its full potential.

These areas include:

Stages of improvement tasks

There are steps you can take to plan continual improvement tasks in stages so you gain a high-level view of what can be improved and how it can be adapted and changed.

Completing an assessment will identify areas that need to be improved. The following resources will give you guidance.

  • SWOT analysis helps you identify your business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • Benchmarking measures your business's performance against similar sized businesses in your industry.
  • Market research investigates your business's market and industry to identify trends, changes and customer or client demands.
  • Trend analysis uses business data to identify consistent results or trends.
  • Webinars (web-based seminars) provide useful information online to help develop your business skills.
  • Adapting to change helps with techniques to use to change and improve your business.

The main areas to prioritise within business are those that have a significant effect on profits or operations.

For example:

  • financial processes
  • operational systems
  • customer service
  • quality assurance
  • policies and procedures.

SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers) is an ideal resource for reviewing a process from beginning to end. (SIPOC is explained further below as a part of process improvement).

Use the following resources to help identify strategies to achieve your goals:

Create an action plan on how you can implement your strategies and achieve your goals. See the following resources for help with planning.

Use measuring tools to assess how the implementation of your strategies is progressing. Measuring tools include:

How you can improve your business

There are various methodologies, tools, actions and activities you can use to assess and improve your business.

Consider the following to improve your business.

Methodologies

  • Process improvement strategies (explained below)
  • Industry benchmarking
  • Staffing changes
  • Marketing vision changes
  • Products and service updates

Tools

  • SWOT analysis
  • Benchmark analysis
  • Trend analysis
  • SIPOC

Actions

  • Innovation planning for products and services
  • Training and development for you and your staff

Activities

  • Professional development for staff
  • Networking events and expos
  • Mentor opportunities
  • Professional service arrangements

Process improvement

As your business grows, you will have many processes that have been developed organically and may be inefficient. Having strategies in place can help to improve them.

Process improvement is a method that works across all areas of your business and can benefit operations by lowering costs and increasing capacities for overall growth. Some areas of improvements you might start with include:

  • improving communication between your staff
  • delivering your services faster
  • improving the quality of your manufacturing
  • resolving known problems
  • improving your customer experience
  • reducing your costs and debt.

Process mapping

Process mapping is a technique that shows the steps of how a process should work from start to finish as a visual map—these are sometimes referred to as workflow diagrams.

Process mapping includes:

  • explanation of the tasks
  • who is accountable for the tasks
  • a timeline of when each task should occur.

Digital tools like a business process management (BPM) system can help develop process mapping.

Flow charts, process diagrams and training is available through LinkedIn Learning and is free with State Library of Queensland membership.

SIPOC

SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers) is a visual tool used to document a business process from beginning to end and can improve compliance with industry standards and codes of practice.

Using this tool with your team will help to eliminate redundancies, reduce confusion and errors, and be easier for staff to follow.

SIPOC example

In this SIPOC table, you can see where the goals and the gaps are with the productivity of baristas in a coffee shop.

Productivity equals the total value of the work divided by the total hours worked—in this case, the number of coffees made by the baristas divided by the total hours the baristas worked.

Example SIPOC table
Suppliers
Inputs
Processes
Outputs
Customers
  • Coffee bean roasters
  • Cups, stirrers
  • Milks and milk alternatives
  • Sugar and sugar alternatives
  • Coffee machine service
  • Beans
  • Staff (baristas)
  • Take order
  • Accept payment
  • Grind beans
  • Place grounds into the portafilter
  • Connect portafilter to the coffee machine
  • Place cups underneath
  • Start machine
  • Put lid on cup
  • Hand to customer
  • Cup of coffee that tastes good and satisfies the customer
  • Customers return and bring their friends

The diagram has identified that several steps may be missing in the process that could improve it. The following questions explores this further.

  • Who takes the order? Is that part of the barista's job? Should that be included in the productivity calculation?
  • How is the money taken and by whom?
  • How fine is the grind? Does it get adjusted? If so, when and by whom?
  • When is the milk added?
  • Does the barista add sugar or the customer?
  • When does the machine get cleaned and who cleans it?
  • How is the quality of the coffee checked to make sure it is good?

Once the process is mapped and you have identified what is functioning well, what the process gaps are and what tasks can be streamlined, you can refine the tasks into manageable steps.

Regular process refinements bring the business closer to the desired results of better productivity of baristas by increasing the number of good coffees that can be made during a barista’s shift. Also, adding more staff to customer service and sales may be a good investment.

Complete a SIPOC assessment

Use the tool below to map out an activity from your business to determine if any improvements can be made.

Interactive SIPOC table
Suppliers
Inputs
Processes
Outputs
Customers

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