Every business has its own way of executing tasks and maintaining processes. But the way these tasks and processes are done differs from company to company. That means that you’ll need workflow techniques that give you an edge over your competition.
However, there’s a problem with having customized workflows: a solution that works for another business won’t necessarily work for you. That means you need some inventive ideas.
How, then, do you know how to keep optimizing your workflows as you keep growing your business? Are there steadfast techniques that you can rely on? Can they be adapted to suit your needs?
You should be using these techniques right now, if you haven’t already.
1. Automate repetitive tasks
According to a survey by The Alternative Board, business owners spend 68 percent of their time managing day to day business tasks and handling issues in the workplace. Only the remaining 31.9 percent is spent making actual business decisions that affect the growth and direction of the company.
The average person spends 8 hours in the office, and 68.1 percent over a week is almost 28 hours wasted doing things that don’t bring them any revenue. This doesn’t just apply to business owners, but also your employees. There’s time wasted in answering emails, taking calls, responding to messages and queries, etc.
Automating repetitive tasks can decrease the time it takes to execute workflows. The time saved in that is substantial and can be used to make actual business decisions that affect the growth of your company.
2. Streamline existing processes
When the process was first launched, it might have been perfectly suited to what you were hoping to achieve. But as time goes by, processes need to be updated. There could be a lot of time wasted that could be saved and used on other processes.
Here are a few things that you can do to make sure your processes are running as you need them to be:
Make an inventory
Make a complete list of all the business workflows that are operating in your organization. This gives you an idea of how many workflows you have, and how many you’ll need to revisit to check on their performance.
It doesn’t make sense to try and optimize every workflow since there’s bound to be certain processes that rank a lot more on priority than others. So, rank all your workflows according to how important they are to your business. Once you’ve done that, you can work on streamlining them based on the importance they hold.
Take a closer look
Understand what each step of the workflows does, and see which areas can be improved. This gives you a microscopic perspective into the workings of each process. Once you’ve done that, implement the new changes in a test environment and see if the changes have the effect that you desire on them.
Ask for feedback
The people involved in the process are the ones who know the workflows from up-close. You’ll get good feedback from them, since they’re going to find which features and processes are easier to work with than others. They can clearly see which aspects of the workflows impact them the most.
Ask for feedback because it helps you to further optimize and streamline your processes. A good start is to document process performance so that you can use the information to improve it later.
Automating these tasks can help you save time that your staff would need to dedicate to this. You can automate this through form automation as well.
3. Integrate your team
We’ve been talking about workflows and your business operations all this time, but there’s an aspect that we’re forgetting. Apart from all of these mechanical aspects, your team members are the ones that are actually going to be down on the ground and executing everything.
How they interact and work with each other will ensure how effective the process is.
If your team doesn’t work as a single unit and has issues working seamlessly together, then they won’t be as productive and efficient as you need them to be.
Employee engagement and satisfaction is key to any happy and productive work environment, and understanding and connecting with fellow team members will ensure you can achieve that.
4. Test out new additions in workflow models
Whether you’re developing a new module for an existing workflow or a new workflow entirely for a process that you’re about to implement, it’s always a good idea to test out a new addition before you roll it out.
There’s a lot more to this than just testing for potential flaws. You also get an idea of how efficient it is, and get feedback from the testing staff about if it could be improved further. It could show how you improve your model so there are less resources used and more time saved.
5. Analyze how your improvements have made a difference
It’s great to test and implement new additions to your processes, but it’s also important to know if they have made a difference. So, analyze and inspect on how the workflow enhancements have made a difference.
Have they improved the productivity of your staff? Have they brought the returns that they promised? Have they reduced the overheads that were present before?
For example, Adam owns a factory where cars are manufactured. He’s optimized the painting section of his factory, so that they take less time to finish painting a car. Sure, that saves time. But how has that time saved made a difference in terms of revenue? He can find out if he’s shipped more cars to the customers. That directly translates to revenue for the company.
6. Ensure that your customers get the experience they deserve
Your customers are keeping you in business, and your top priority should be to make sure that you’re doing everything in your power to make sure that their concerns are addressed and they’re satisfied with the service you’re giving them.
See what processes you have in place for customer service. Do they make a difference in how fast and effectively their issues are resolved? See if your workflows can make a change in how your customers view your service towards them. A single customer who has a good experience with you is a lot more powerful than marketing campaigns trying to win over new customers. Their words are raw and honest. This can be a lot more convincing for other people to become your customer.
You’ll need to constantly work on your workflows to make sure that they’re performing according to how your business is growing. What worked for your organization when it was fledgling could be woefully outdated as time goes by. Workflow software can help create workflows and have them updated as you keep your business growing.
What workflow techniques will you be using in 2018?
Let us know which workflow techniques you’ll be using in 2018 in the comments below or by connecting with GetApp on Twitter.
About the author
Arun Balakrishnan is a content marketer at KiSSFLOW, a cloud-based workflow automation platform headquartered in Chennai, India. He also analyzes market trends in the gaming industry and how those trends affect both developers and customers. When he’s not at his desk, he enjoys cosplaying at major comic conventions and is currently working on a horror novel.