There is perhaps no more-important element of a midsized organization than the quality of its operations. Think about it: Even if a firm has competitive offerings and strong sales, operational inefficiency diminishes delivery of the best possible product or service. It also squanders precious capital, grinding down the firm's ability to succeed and innovate. In other words, suboptimal operations are the organizational equivalent of a slow bleed that can become life-threatening over time.

A technical support worker speaks through a headset phone while working on a computer.

But while an operations team maximizes the productivity and efficiency of every department's processes, most midsized companies don't have the resources to employ more than just a few people in that group. Therefore, the ops team must first organize itself and its own processes properly before helping other departments. Here are a few ways a small department can set things up so that all other units benefit.

Establish Subsystems: Strategic, Daily Management and Problem Solving

According to a 2014 National Center for the Middle Market report, midsized firms' ability to achieve and maintain operational improvements comes about when their operations teams are well-organized through the use of certain subsystems. First, a strategic subsystem impresses upon workers the bigger picture of how their department contributes to the whole, and it reinforces that management's strategies should guide employees' priorities and their actions. Next, a daily management subsystem monitors the day-to-day practices that department leaders use to manage critical activities, and how well employees are responding to those. Finally, a problem-solving subsystem spells out operations' course of action for each particular problem that can arise within a department.

Build the Right Communication Channels

The success of these subsystems relies almost completely on effective communication. Therefore, the communication channels for each one must be easy for all employees to access and use. Department managers and the ops team should monitor these constantly so that progress is always timely and noticeable. These elements will promote better organizational performance and motivate employees to consistently participate in each subsystem.

One thing an ops team should do at the outset is to make sure the firm has a secure and reliable network infrastructure that can host open reporting systems, brainstorming repositories and always-available communication channels. Mobile access to these channels allows employees to stay informed and involved in short- and long-term improvement processes, even when they're away from their desks. Specifically, an IP communications solution would enable employees to remain in contact across their various devices, and allow them to deliver responses and ideas immediately. All of this reduces downtime that would delay any process assessment and improvement initiative.

On the flip side, low-tech communication channels still have an important role to play. These channels can include whiteboards and brief in-person meetings, and can reinforce a department's strategies, give progress updates or address situations that require immediate attention. But regardless of whether a channel is high-tech or low-tech, employees should know that it is a central part of the ongoing collaboration between the ops team and their department. Thus, workers are expected to contribute on a regular basis through whichever channels are used for an initiative.

Take Outside Vendors Into Account

Given the frequency with which midsized companies outsource various tasks to third parties, operations teams must also build communication channels that accommodate the significant interaction between a company's departments and specific vendors. This helps each department be productive in its day-to-day tasks. It also helps fulfill the long-term responsibilities of the ops team: In conjunction with each department and related vendors, it must plan to upgrade the services and technologies each department uses. Interestingly, if a midsized company outsources IT services, then it would be wise to involve that vendor in determining the right IP communications solution that the firm should use with all its contractors.

It's pivotal for a small operations team at a midsized company to organize itself and its interactions properly, both inside and outside the firm. By doing so, it can deliver operational excellence that gives the company its best chance to succeed.

Does your company have a small operations team? How has your company gotten the most from this department? Please tell us your story by commenting below.

Rob Carey is an NCMM contributor and a features writer who has focused on the business-to-business niche since 1992. He spent his first 15 years at Nielsen Business Media, rising from editorial intern to editorial director. Since then, he has been the principal of New York-based Meetings & Hospitality Insight, working with large hospitality brands in addition to various media outlets.