Efficiency is a different discussion with CEOs than it is with everyday employees. For most workers, becoming more efficient is as simple as taking shorter breaks more often or using a new calendar tool. For executives, it’s about making the company more agile.
If you’re a CEO, it doesn’t matter how many more project proposals you can review per hour: You’re not going to change the company’s overall efficiency. But if you could outsource that function, then you might actually make a dent.
For better or worse, choosing the company’s upcoming initiatives is a task best left to the CEO. But there are plenty of other ways executives can create efficiencies:
- Group purchasing organizations: Purchasing supplies shouldn’t be a time-suck, but it inevitably is. There are vendors to vet, costs to negotiate, contracts to review, and relationships to maintain. Add procurement strategy, logistics, and management of the team into the mix, and you’re looking at dozens or hundreds of man-hours across the year.How do group purchasing organizations make companies more efficient? Joining a GPO makes you part of a group, meaning you get bulk rates without having to increase your volume. Plus, GPOs’ contract are pre-written, which can save months’ worth of haggling time. And because top GPOs are free to join, they’re an efficiency hack that does double duty by delivering time and cost savings.
- Virtual assistants: Speaking of efficiency hacks that also save money, virtual assistants are do-it-all contractors who can be had for as little as $50 per month. Not only are VAs tens of times cheaper than traditional administrative assistants, but they’re typically available 24/7, used to catering to different working styles, and digitally savvy.Consider purchasing a VA subscription for each of your functional units. Sales might use its VA to qualify leads, marketing could delegate social content creation, and HR could offload candidate follow-ups. Even technical teams could make use of a VA for data entry or prototype testing.
- Payroll processors: Another low-cost outsourcing opportunity that saves serious time? Payroll processing. Handling payroll internally means calculating the number of hours worked, total wages, and payroll taxes to withhold and contribute for every employee at every pay period. It doesn’t take a large team for that time to add up.If your company works with freelancers, consider a related service known as payrolling. Payrolling providers, also known as employers of record, put contractors on their own payroll. By doing so, they become responsible not just for collecting and remitting payroll taxes, but also providing benefits like health insurance, 401(k), and flexible spending accounts. Most payrolling companies will also take responsibility for temporary, seasonal, and project based employees.
- Marketing automation tools: Marketing is a broad function that gets broader every day. In addition to print, broadcast, and radio channels, marketers now have to worry about social media, digital, content, influencer, SEO marketing, and more. Although not all of those are automatable, many now are.As a category, marketing automation describes a huge range of software. Some tools, like Customer.io, serve a specific purpose: scaling email personalization. Others, like Pardot, are do-it-all platforms that span lead generation, customer segmentation, and social media management. Ask your marketers to track their time: Wherever they’re spending the bulk of it should dictate which automation tools you invest in.
- Business travel planners: Sure, virtual assistants can set up travel plans in a pinch. But because it’s a small slice of what they do, they’re not terribly efficient at it. One option is to centralize the process but keep it internal: A single team member can schedule everyone’s trips using a travel planning tool, eliminating redundancies associated with every traveler planning their own trip.
When should you consider outsourcing travel planning? If you’ve got a team that spends a third or more of their time on the road — perhaps a traveling sales staff or an event crew — contact a corporate travel planner. Thanks to their relationships with airlines and hoteliers, business travel agencies can often find niche flights and open rooms at a moment’s notice.
Executives are always looking for efficiency opportunities, but too many get mired in their own schedules. Ten-fold efficiency improvements happen not by skipping a meeting here and there, but streamlining entire business units. One is a precision cut; the other is a true hack.
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