Every business has one—the dreaded “Process” that no one wants to acknowledge is holding back the company. It’s the elephant in the room, the one that everyone knows is stifling growth, but no one wants to address. It’s usually a big one, so know that you may need to walk before you run. Start with small things and work your way up to tackling the elephant.

Here are 5 things that may be causing inefficiencies in your company today:

  1. Inconsistent processes. How many people are doing the same task in your organization? Are they all doing the same task the same way? For some organizations, there are rules, regulations and requirements for how a task should be completed. It makes the consistency of the process among different employees even more important.
  2. Siloed data, information, or knowledge. Do you have information hoarders? Are there people or departments within your organization that own data or knowledge that others need to access? These information hoarders become an obstacle for people to get their jobs done quickly, efficiently and effectively. Identify them and find ways to store and share knowledge more efficiently.
  3. Duplicate, triplicate and even quadruplicate approvals. If a task or project requires several layers of approval, you better have a really good reason. Multiple layers of approval become a bottleneck and slow down any momentum a project or idea might have had. Does the owner really need to approve all purchases, or only those above a specific amount or those that significantly impact the company’s cash flow? Do three people always need to sign off on all expense reports? Are there some levels of authority you can allow your staff and supervisors to manage?
  4. Unnecessary steps. These just add time and cost to everything. If in fact, the auditors really don’t need copies of everyone’s individual monthly expense reports, you can probably stop requiring your administrative assistant to gather, copy, sort and file them each month. Sometimes these practices continue even when no longer necessary because the appropriate communication hasn’t occurred. You know the auditors don’t need those copies, but did you relay that to your administrative assistant?
  5. Information overload. If you’ve ever searched through 12 pages of cash flow reports to find the one expense that caused last month’s shortage, you have experienced this. It’s also called a data dump. Today, we are bombarded with information, and it’s even more important to find ways to clearly present pertinent information in a concise, easily-digested format. Use dashboards to consistently present the key performance indicators on a regular basis. Use charts, graphs and infographics to quickly show key points and data.

Process mapping is a useful tool to identify and eliminate these inefficiencies. By visually mapping out a process, you and your team can see where there are obstacles, duplication in efforts and even mis-assigned roles and responsibilities. Taking the time to map out a process and implement appropriate changes can result in the long-term multiplier effect of efficiency and increased productivity.