Successful businesses retain top talent and drive sales by focusing on high-value work — work that not only brings valuable products and services to the market but that also earns profits to help the business grow. To increase profits, businesses not only need to identify and focus on the tasks that produce the most revenue but also eliminate any low-value busywork that may be taking time, energy and budget dollars away from ROI-driving activities.
To help, 10 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust explain how to identify low-value work that could be negatively affecting your bottom line. Take a close look at these indicators and factors within your organization to see where you can improve.
1. Consider whether a task is helping you engage your team and clients.
In the service business, I’ve found that any time I invest outside of engaging and supporting my team and clients is not going to high-value or high-ROI activities. While sales and marketing can be high-ROI activities, they do not trump high employee and client retention in terms of predictable profitability, if not revenue growth. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.
2. Ask yourself what is inessential.
By asking ourselves, “What is inessential?” we can identify tasks that confuse busy work with productivity and remove them. Resources can be reallocated, leaving us free to focus on more important and valuable tasks. It can be as simple as addition by subtraction. – Justin Livingston, Reflektions Ltd.
3. Measure activities by their impact.
You must be able to measure the activities performed within the organization to see if those activities are making a positive impact — for example, conducting training equals a higher rate of success. If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it. It’s as simple as that. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
4. Evaluate what processes can be automated.
Business leaders should evaluate their processes, identify time-consuming manual tasks and implement a plan to automate that work. Automating tasks reduces research time and manual effort, allowing more time to be spent on revenue-generating activities. In larger organizations, automation ensures consistency and eliminates the potential errors that can result from manual entry. – Matthew Halle, Lead2Growth
5. Pay attention to your P&L.
Carefully review your profit and loss statement to find out if any cost reduction is possible. It might not be a fun job initially, but it can help the bottom line significantly. You can find alternative services to reduce costs and improve processes at the same time, which will ultimately improve both staff efficiency and services. – Taslema Sultana, Haystack Lodgings
6. Break down quarterly profitability by product or service.
It has been said that 20 percent of what you do leads to 80 percent of your results. Break down your profitability by your product or service offering, by quarter. Factor in the expenses required to support those offerings. Focus on the services that do the most to support your firm, and consider ways to either improve or exit the areas where you are struggling. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology
7. Check your feelings.
Check your feelings about what you are doing. If it feels heavy or like drudgery, it’s probably low-value work. High-value work feels aspirational, energizing, innovative and fulfilling. If you have that much energy when it comes to working on something, it will be highly valuable. – Tom Jaleski, Code Unlimited LLC
8. Perform an internal audit.
Regularly perform an internal audit for all workflows and production. It identifies pain points and bottlenecks and showcases areas where a great amount of time and effort is being spent for little return. It may be beneficial to the company in work hours and costs to outsource that task so that the company utilizes its efforts on delivering what matters most to clients and your bottom line. – Jeffrey Bartel, Hamptons Group, LLC
9. Pinpoint tasks that feel like ‘busy work.’
If it feels like busy work, it probably is. This holds true from the top to the bottom of every organization. In addition to providing a low ROI, low-value work can affect morale, which further affects profitability. Making sure team members and leaders are fulfilled and engaged is a great way to focus on high-value work. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
10. Look at your management team.
I hate to say this, but the problem is often in management. There are often too many layers in an organization that can grow or kill the business. That’s mainly because while the management layer is supposed to drive the mission, at times it also causes confusion for the people who are actually driving the work. – Gene Yoo, Resecurity, Inc.