Why Your Operations Team Needs to Identify Its Top Roadblocks By the End of the Year

The economy is on track to continue recovering through the end of this year and into the next. By early to mid-2022, the economy could be back to pre-pandemic levels, with customer confidence and spending both significantly higher than they are right now. 

Operational and process roadblocks that slow down your ability to adapt or meet customer needs are always bad, no matter what the economy looks like. As the economy recovers, these roadblocks hamper your ability to respond to changing market conditions — even while those conditions are changing for the better. 

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Now is the best time to identify where your business processes have bottlenecks, plus the steps you can take to prepare for next year’s market.

1. The Economic Recovery Is Likely to Continue

After a slow recovery for much of 2021, the economy is likely on track for a much better year in 2022.

Market conditions could change a lot between now and then. We still don’t know if consumers are going to stick with online shopping, for example. Consumer demands may continue to increase and your customers may continue to expect more for the same prices or less. 

Better conditions don’t always translate to business success. Without the right strategy, a business may struggle with too much success too quickly. Flexible, adaptable business models typically have the best time adjusting to whatever new normal may be. 

Operational roadblocks may make it much harder for your business to take advantage of improved market conditions. Waste and unstable cash flow, in particular, can make it difficult to invest in a way that makes business success possible. Identifying and overcoming these challenges will put your business in a much better position to succeed next year.

2. Now Is the Best Time for Audits and Review

Identifying roadblocks isn’t always easy, but audits and reviews of essential business processes can help.

For example, many businesses struggle with operational roadblocks like waste, a lack of monitoring, poor planning, unreliable cash flow and high operational costs. Once you identify these roadblocks, you can find the right strategy to manage them. 

Audits will help you understand why these problems are happening. Waste may be caused by manufacturing practices, for example. Unreliable cash flow is often related to pricing schedules and business-client relationships.

Reviewing these processes and relationships will help you to pinpoint exactly where these roadblocks are. 

3. You Have an Opportunity for Big Changes

Planning now will give you a chance to build changes into your business plan for next year. 

A proactive approach also helps you make sure that you have time to adapt to big changes before end-of-year accounting.

For example, right now is one of the best times of year to switch your HR or payroll provider. Switching now will give you and your team enough time to prep for benefits enrollment, build a business relationship with your provider and learn what their system does well. 

You also won’t have to wait long to see how effective the services are when they really matter — at the end of the fiscal year. 

Want the office to go paperless? Now could be one of the best times to do it. Before the chaos of years-end, identifying and removing top roadblocks will give you a chance to make big operational changes that have been on your mind for a while. 

If your business is like most businesses and uses the calendar year as its fiscal year, this is also a chance to build changes into your accounting, allowing you to take advantage of relevant tax credits and other financial opportunities. 

If you think that your current business model needs an update, now is probably the time to do it. 

4. Many Supply Bottlenecks Are on Track to Ease Up

The past year and a half have been almost defined by supply chain disruptions. Essential goods and raw materials have become hard to come by, and many industries are still behind. Critical components, like semiconductors, which are necessary for almost every kind of consumer electronic device, are still hard to find for many businesses.

Many supply bottlenecks that cropped up in the past two years are likely to be over or vastly improved by 2022. Industrial production continues to lag in America and Europe, but production in some countries, like China, has recovered beyond pre-pandemic levels. This means that many raw materials and components shortages may wind down over the next year.

The semiconductor chip shortage, for example, is on track to ease through the end of this year and could be a thing of the past some time next year. This is excellent news for several industries, including the automotive, consumer electronics and computer hardware sectors.

Businesses need to be ready to take advantage of easing supply chain bottlenecks. By next year, the end of these bottlenecks could mean a significant increase in demand as industries across the economy can fulfill orders on a more usual schedule.

Operations roadblocks could make it much harder to adapt to supply stability and rising demands. 

Operational Roadblocks May Hold Back Your Business

Waste, high overhead costs and unstable cash flow can all make it much harder to run a successful business — even when the economy is strong. 

As market conditions improve, you’ll want to be in the best position possible to take advantage of growing demand and stable supply. Auditing and reviewing business operations so you can dismantle these common roadblocks will help you prepare your business for success.

Eleanor is editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

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