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If you’re looking to overhaul your operations and improve overall efficiency in your company, there are right and wrong ways to go about it.

The misdiagnosis of operational pain points is surprisingly common and can lead to adverse effects on operational efficiency and performance and productivity levels. 

Read this guide to find out how you can avoid singling out the wrong pain points and implementing insufficient solutions that could cost you time and money. In addition, find out how tracking hours worked with employee monitoring tools can help. 

An Example Operational Pain Point Misdiagnosis 

To clearly understand what we mean by operational pain point misdiagnosis, it’s useful to examine a common example in business.

While it may seem intuitive what your real pain points are, since you likely have a wealth of data and real-time updates to rely on, it isn’t always so straightforward.

Let’s take the example of customer support.

After 6 months of your software service being operational, you realize that you need assistance with the growing number of customer queries and concerns. You decide that outsourcing is the best approach to minimize costs so you can continue to scale at a steady pace.

Then you hit a hurdle as you come to find out that the number of customer complaints you receive is on the rise week after week. Queries are going unanswered, and customers - the lifeblood of your company - are feeling dissatisfied.

The logical next step would be to find the root cause of this dissatisfaction so you can turn things around and prevent the potential damage to your company’s reputation from having unhappy customers.

Yet in many cases, business owners turn to the most apparently obvious solution to a problem, which in this case would be to ask for an increase in the amount of customer support agents in your outsourced team.

What if it turns out that the real reason customers are dissatisfied is that they have been met with rude responses and unhelpful suggestions when dealing with your customer support?

If this were the case, it could be that the outsourcing vendor you chose is failing to deliver high-quality work. This would be the real operational pain point, which could be easily fixed by finding a new MSP using due diligence and a more thorough vetting process.

In this scenario, you could also employ an online activity tracker such as Insightful, which could be one of a number of workforce optimization tools you could use to identify wasted productivity and improve individual and team performance.

Work log software lets you monitor remote employees so you can pinpoint where time is being spent, and if there’s operational efficiency. By monitoring productivity with a time log for work, it’s easier to spot where the real operational pain points are.

With the right wfh monitoring software, you won’t have to worry about infringing on workers’ privacy rights, since tools like Insightful take extra measures to protect user data.

Seek Causes over Symptoms

The hypothetical case study above illustrates the need to shift your focus away from the symptoms of operational pain points and toward the root causes.

Just as taking pain medication won’t fix a broken leg, treating the symptoms of an operational pain point won’t lead to better results.

There are several ways you can dig beneath the surface to make sure you’re uncovering the real causes behind operational pain points:

Do the research - Before jumping to conclusions and proclaiming that hiring more customer support agents will remedy your poor customer satisfaction ratings, it’s prudent to carry out relevant research. Explore the subject more thoroughly by discussing the issue with your customer support team and conducting an internal audit of processes.

Let the data talk - If you use workforce analytics data through a platform like Insightful, you’ll quickly be able to identify whether you’re dealing with a process or a personnel issue. If productivity and performance levels are up to standard, it could be that your processes aren’t efficient.

Consult stakeholders - Anyone with a vested interest in your company can have valuable input when it comes to identifying operational pain points. Perhaps they’ve become aware of particular bottlenecks or can see the operations from an external perspective and use a critical eye to analyze your biggest challenges.

When you train senior leadership to identify causes over symptoms, you’ll be able to pick up on operational pain points with greater accuracy as you’re not relying on hunches but on thorough research and relevant data.

Use Holistic Thinking

One of the best ways to reduce the risk of operational pain point misdiagnosis is to have a coordinated approach from the outset.

If you approach your business with a holistic mindset, you can account for everything from leadership to team members and processes to systems. When you build from this perspective, you can create a strategy and a change management process that factors in everything from changing circumstances to the impact of digital transformation.

Holistic thinking requires that you take a step back to examine and assess the overall situation. The clearer the picture, the more likely it is that you’ll know what exactly has gone wrong and what you can do to put it right.

If you’ve considered, for example, that outsourcing as a recruitment strategy can be risky as you’re relying on an external team that may not be fully familiar with the ins and outs of your product, it would be much easier to correctly diagnose issues with customer dissatisfaction. 

Simply by understanding the risk involved with various work operations, you can more easily scan for pain points and diagnose them with a greater degree of accuracy.

Create Tailor-made Solutions

Once you’ve zoomed out and taken a broader perspective of work operations, you can then hone in on pain points to create tailor-made solutions.

When you understand how all aspects of your business are connected and related, it should be easy to come up with specific solutions that fix the problem at hand. If, for example, you find that internal communication is an issue in the HR department, one potential solution could be to look for inspiration in other departments for communication solutions that are working well.

It could be that you need to make a fix on the individual, process, or system level.

Individual - Perhaps the data shows that team members in one department aren’t hitting performance benchmarks. In this case, it could be that you need to address employee engagement or make sure each team member understands exactly what is expected of them.

Process - Maybe your work processes no longer serve your teams well. It could be time to update core processes to reflect new ways of working that focus on operational efficiency.

System - It could be time to adopt a new project management solution or change the way teams communicate relevant information.

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