The sustainable business: the efficiency question?

Published by Andrew Griggs on 11 April 2024

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How efficient is your business? It is a question that worries many business leaders and indeed economists and politicians.

In the March Budget, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced (or perhaps wished for) a major efficiency exercise in the public sector, believing that the adoption of technology will bring cost savings and delivery improvements. It is an admirable aim but one that is perhaps easier for a growing business to achieve than a sprawling public sector body.

In today’s competitive business landscape, where economic uncertainty continues to dominate, process efficiency should always remain front and centre of business practice. Continuously reviewing efficiencies and adapting to them is key to sustainable success, enabling growth, innovation and profitability.

Efficiency as a strategic pillar of growth

Efficiency is one of our three strategic pillars for the next year, and we know it is also a question and focus area for many of our clients.

I find it encouraging that despite such a prolonged period of economic uncertainty businesses continue to thrive and grow. It is testament to the creativity and drive of businesses and the ambitions of their founders and directors. But a concerning trend is emerging. Businesses are growing rapidly but are profits which are much needed for reinvestment in the ‘change’ environment?

The challenge of doing business in today’s economy

The cost of doing business has increased dramatically since the pandemic. But the cost customers and clients are prepared to pay has not kept pace. Businesses cannot simply rely on increasing the cost of their products and services to counteract this. The ability to streamline operations, optimise resources and maximise output is crucial in staying ahead.

How to make your business more efficient

Technology and digital transformation will unlock many efficiencies, with the promise of AI only just beginning to be felt. The pace of AI-driven change will accelerate, often at a frightening pace and if businesses aren’t ready for that, it will leave many businesses behind.

But the drive for efficiency needs to be balanced – businesses should not hide behind technology. The human touch remains vital – it is what qualifies, interprets, and adds value and meaning to the work we do. In an increasingly digital and faceless age, the human touch is cherished by customers and clients and will, in many instances, command a premium. We are, after all, social beings and relationships matter. The pursuit of efficiency should not be at our expense.

Reviewing efficiencies is critical for staying ahead in a fast-paced environment. At a time of continuing economic uncertainty, it requires strong leadership which is characterised by managing change, listening to the needs of customers or clients and, of course, your people.

Strong leaders should be prepared to question what a business has always done if it is to achieve something it has never had. Driving this change will open new opportunities and enable growth and development.

We work alongside and advise many businesses facing these issues. If you would like some guidance on reviewing efficiencies in your business, please get in touch.



How can businesses improve efficiency?

  • Make reviewing efficiency part of your business plan and strategy and ensure someone is responsible for delivery.
  • Review your systems – what systems will improve efficiencies for most of your business? Do all your current processes add value?
  • Reduce energy consumption.
  • Review and reduce transportation and travel time – couriers, travel between meetings.
  • Review overproduction and overservicing – produce what is needed.
  • Review and reduce the amount of time spent waiting or in meetings.
  • Streamline workflows – review unnecessary tasks or motions – ask why things are done that way, is it necessary?
  • Optimise inventory levels – review unnecessary inventory.
  • Have you got the right people doing what the organisation now needs, at the right level doing the right jobs?
  • Challenge and review the return on investment for everything.

The benefits of reducing inefficiencies:

  • Cost savings – reduces expenses and boosts margins.
  • Enhances competitiveness and meets customer expectations.
  • Enhances productivity and engagement – empowers your workforce to focus on adding value rather than manual activities.
  • Fosters a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

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