How to Identify Constraints Caused by Improper Business Tools
The tools that your business’s employees use to do their jobs will vary greatly depending on the type of business that you are running, but where they share common ground is in their ability to cause major issues when they don’t perform the essential functions that they are supposed to. From software to cloud storage to trucks or forklifts, if a tool that your employees need to do their jobs is either broken or not up to snuff, you need to know so that you can effectively replace it as quickly as possible, however sometimes employees are reticent to speak up, misidentify issues, or may be used to a system that is in need of upgrading. Like many things involved in running a business, it will pay off for you to know how to identify symptoms of equipment based constraints for yourself so that you don’t wind up confused as to why there is a bottleneck being created in your business.
Firstly, do your employees have issues with their equipment? While ultimately it is up to you to decide how to proceed, asking your employees what they think about their equipment and if there is a need to replace ineffective items that are still in use is probably the most direct way of uncovering equipment based issues. If there is a problem with a specific piece of equipment, asking your employees can quickly help you identify and fix or replace the malfunctioning part.
In a group of supposedly identical equipment users, is one employee having issues keeping up with other ones? If you are supposedly outfitting your employees with identical tools, but you notice either a single employee or a group begin to experience issues delivering or meeting their quotas, it may in fact be because their equipment is performing under par. All others things being equal, the issue must be coming either from your employee or from the equipment. Make sure that the equipment you have provided them with is functioning as it should be before assuming that the issue lies with the employee, and when in doubt, ask them if they have been experiencing issues.
Have you been stretching outdated or damaged tools in order to avoid replacing them? Business owners should realize that when they provide their employees with tools that are past their prime, they are not necessarily saving themselves money in the long run, especially if these tools are preventing their employees from doing their jobs effectively. A bad reputation can quickly spring from using poor quality tools, and it can decrease morale and lead to higher turnover if employees feel that they are not being provided with what they need to do their jobs.
If your employees use their own tools, consider setting a standard to ensure they are effective. This could be in the form of a standardized bring your own device policy, or if the tools your employees use are not technology based, requiring the usage of a certain brand or model of tool that you trust the effectiveness of. What your employees bring to work can also effect your liability, so make sure that you understand the laws in your state and the standard for safety that needs to be upheld.
Photo Credit to Josep Ma. Rosell on Flickr