Formal process optimization mechanisms are often reserved for large companies and overlooked by startups. A lack of efficiency can be costly at the inception phase, however, so startups need to move fast.
So how should founders think about efficiency in their company, and when should they be considering a process improvement consultant for their team?
Why efficiency is overlooked by startups
In the corporate world, efficiency is traditionally the name of the game. Tech startups, however, often operate in the world of innovation, agility, and risk. They are out to change the game, not just improve it. Many startups fail to fully understand the definition of efficiency, and thus, choose not to prioritize it.
Efficiency is the ratio of useful work to the total energy expended.
Efficiency is more than just focusing on incremental changes; it also encompuses process improvement, which should be on the radar of any startup trying to get the most out of their resources.
When processes matter in tech
Startup entrepreneurs are acutely aware that processes matter anytime speed is important and a company’s resources are stretched. The efficiency of processes becomes quintessential when:
- scaling rapidly.
capital is limited.
release dates matter.
there is more work than people.
development speed is important.
adding new employees to the team
you need to cut costs but not output
How a process improvement consultant can help
In addition to solving today’s problems, hiring a consultant can help executives upskill. The new insights can improve their ability to see and manage process improvement throughout the company’s journey and their career.
A consultant may help you:
- Map out processes. This process of auditing company activities may never have been formally carried out before and will likely produce some immediate insights.
Identify pain points. The team may know these already, but now they are elevated into a plan of action.
Find opportunities and quick wins. These are important for getting you excited about the project.
Understand the benefits of process improvement. Knowledge gained on this specialized topic can help for years to come.
Make you look good to other stakeholders. Initiatives with a consultant become your initiatives, and when goals are set and achieved under your supervision, you rightly share in the credit.
One more benefit of working with a consultant early is that it will help you recruit better when it comes time to hire a full-time in-house process improvement role.
Hiring a process improvement consultant
Follow these guidelines to get the most out of your consultant.
- Fit to your situation. A consultant could do many things across the business, but to be most effective, they will need guidance on where to help, and where you see the biggest pains and potential gains.
- Choose a working style. Consultants can provide advice, train staff, or play a hands-on role in the implementation of process improvement. The style of engagement will depend on budget, personnel, and the scale of the problem.
- Set clear goals and targets. Help your consultant establish the metrics of success. This will sharpen their focus and motivation as well as help to get executives, staff, and the consultant all pulling in the same direction.
- Start small. If the budget is tight, hire an advisor on a small scale and address large obvious problems first.
Entrepreneurs are likely to overlook processes in the early stages of their company. Addressing process improvement early can have a long-lasting impact on the speed of progress, profitability, and scalability of the business, and hiring a consultant can be a great way to upskill a startup’s executives and help prepare for in-house roles to be created in the future.