Many people felt like 2016 was a year they’d rather forget. There was the politics, deaths of some entertainment super stars, an unprecedented number of personal issues if you ask my neighbour Joan (I didn’t, but she told me any way).

For many business owners the year was hard simply because they felt like they’d lost control. There were too many balls being juggled in the air and too hard to catch them all as they fell. They simply didn’t have the time to achieve the things they wanted.

They wanted a workforce that was more efficient – but with a catch – they wanted their workforce to be more efficient, without having to micro-manage them.

We recently released a guide to Automating your Army. The concept of efficiency through automation is not a new one, but many managers find the idea overwhelming. Or something they’ll consider when they have time. Which of course they never do, because they haven’t automated their most time consuming processes. It’s a Catch 22 situation.

Well, it’s time to stop procrastinating. Take that New Year deep breath and make 2017 The Year of Efficiency.

Here’s a quick summary of what we cover in the guide…

  1. Ask yourself what efficiency really means to you

You want your guys to do the job faster, right? But what about specifics? Can you measure it? Maybe you want them to complete 5 jobs in a day instead of 3. Maybe you want them to do the job only once, instead of going back to fix it, again… and again… and again.

Great – now put some Key Performance Indicators against that. Make your team accountable for their achievements. If they meet their targets, reward them. If they don’t, find out what’s slowing them down and fix it.

  1. If you’re not achieving it, then why? 

You know what you want to achieve, so now you need to figure out why it’s not happening. Is it a delivery process, a dispatch issue, paperwork, or perhaps… just perhaps… are your staff taking shortcuts on the job or knocking off earlier than they should?

Once you know what it is the next step is to….

  1. Automate 

Any process that can be automated to save you time, without breaking the bank, you should. And remember the value of the automation isn’t just in time, it’s in the dollars it saves you as well. Make sure you take that into account when figuring out how much the automation will save you.

There are a few different types of automation to consider.

Moving admin to the cloud

With smart phones and the cloud, most essential business tools can be accessed remotely – dispatch details, customer orders, email, time sheets and more.

Install GPS tracking to your fleet

GPS tracking is one of the most powerful tools for any business with a mobile workforce.

Explore Bluetooth beacons

If there is a replicable task your staff do, involving moving, cleaning, shifting inventory a beacon is an excellent tool for tracking exactly when and if the task was completed.

  1. Finally, review your progress

Measure results against the KPIs you set and keep tweaking your processes until you feel you can step away, take a week off on a tropical island, or perhaps just a coffee down the road, without feeling like the balls are going to drop.