Are your operations holding you back?

5 steps to address operational inefficiency

In this article, we’ll dive into a topic that’s crucial for every business: operational efficiency. Everybody wants to be able to run their business like a well-oiled machine. But as soon as you decide to expand –whether it’s entering new markets, diversifying your product lineup, or growing in number – problems begin to arise. With growth comes complexity, and this often manifests in inefficient processes. In this article, we’re going to explore how to identify and address operational inefficiency in five key steps.

#1 Spot the red flags

Recognising the signs of inefficient operations is the first step towards smoother operations. The symptoms typically include:

  • More product returns than usual due to poor quality
  • Delivery errors and prolonged delivery times to customers
  • Costs increasing faster than your revenue
  • Declining EBIT margins
  • Hiring new personnel becomes a lengthy and expensive affair

These issues arise when your business lacks standardised procedures or a clear way of working. Left unchecked, they can throw a wrench in your growth plans faster than you can say “Uh-oh!” If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s time for radical change.

#2 Avoid quick IT fixes

Let’s face it: when faced with problems, we’ve all been tempted to slap on a quick fix and call it a day. Likewise, many organisations walk into the trap of investing in new IT solutions in the hope that they will magically improve their operations. However, more often than not, these solutions miss the mark because they were bought without a clear understanding of the problems they are supposed to solve. Simply introducing new technologies without knowing exactly what you need to solve adds unnecessary complexity to your processes. To enhance your operational efficiency, it is crucial to conduct a detailed analysis to understand the root causes of your inefficiencies before investing in IT solutions.

#3 Get to the root of the problem

When you hit roadblocks, it’s crucial to take a step back and assess the situation before rushing to find a solution. After all, what you see on the surface might just be the tip of the iceberg. Take quality issues, for example. You notice them in your finished product, but the root cause typically lies hidden in the early stages of your production process. When dealing with operational challenges, always operate out from the fact that the obvious might not be obvious. That’s why you should always conduct a thorough analysis of all processes across your value chain to identify the root problem. Moreover, it is crucial to involve senior leadership and adopt a holistic approach that transcends departmental silos.

#4 Create a common language through standardisation

Central to operational improvement is creating a culture of transparency and standardisation across your organisation. Like the tower of Babel, an organisation that lacks a common language and procedures experiences miscommunication, errors and chaos. For example, in many larger production companies, different departments do not measure costs and performance in the same way. Rather than discussing how production data can be used to improve costs and performance, they waste time discussing which data are correct. By establishing clear procedures and protocols across all operational facets, organisations can streamline operations, reduce errors and enhance overall performance and efficiency.

#5 Don’t be afraid of automation

Automation and AI-driven solutions emerge as potent tools for driving operational efficiency, particularly in repetitive tasks and data-intensive processes. Leveraging technologies like artificial intelligence can enhance productivity and free up resources for value-added activities. By automating routine tasks, organisations can scale operations efficiently while mitigating workforce constraints. However, it’s crucial to view automation as a strategic solution rather than a means to replace personnel outright. Don’t be afraid to utilise new technologies where needed to unlock capacity for growth.


In conclusion, addressing operational inefficiencies is essential for unlocking growth potential and staying competitive in today’s dynamic business environment. At Valcon, we’ve helped numerous companies conduct thorough analyses, implement strategic interventions and embrace innovative solutions. In our experience, potential results of optimising processes, whether through standardisation or automation, involve significant cost savings of up to 30% without compromising service quality.

Reach out to Morten Just Blangsted at [email protected] to learn more about how we can help you address efficiency issues to reach improvements in throughput times and quality levels.