Every business, whether you’re an SMB or a large corporation, have some kind of workflow system in place. Whether it was intentionally promoted or happened naturally, you should be analyzing your workflow to ensure your business is performing as it should and reaching its potential for your productivity output. If you think it’s time to see how you can optimize your business’s workflow, here are some tips and steps on how to do so.
Before you start thinking about how to optimize your workflow, you need to identify your pain points. Start by analyzing your current workflow system and see what’s working for you and your team and what areas you can improve. Don’t just analyze your workflow from the perspective of your own role, but try to think about other departments and employees and how everything works together to finish a project.
After you’ve identified some problem areas in your workflow, you need to see what’s the highest priority. If issues within your business cost a lot, you’ll probably want to address those issues first. If your team struggles to abide by due dates, this might be the first thing you work on optimizing.
Although analyzing your systems in place is critical, you can identify additional pain points by collaborating with your team. As an employee, you know the ins and outs of your department, but other departments may be a mystery to you. However, your team’s workflow process affects other departments and vice versa. All your teams must work together to strategize for a better system.
Consider sending out an anonymous survey to your different teams and ask for feedback on your workflow process. Other departments will know the nuances of their field better than anyone outside of it, so they’ll be able to identify issues within their system. Other departments can also offer a fresh perspective because they don’t know much about others’ day-to-day operations. Those teams will provide objective feedback on improving specific workflow processes, even if they don’t directly affect them.
Performance metrics are the data used to analyze aspects of your workflow process. Depending on your industry, some of your performance metrics may be the number of sales, your return on investments, profits, customer satisfaction, employee happiness, brand reputation, the cost of production, and more. These key metrics can help you identify specific issues affecting your overall performance. For example, if your business spends tons of money on powering technology, consider switching to clean energy. If you find your employees are unhappy and you have a high turnover rate, you may be overworking your team, leading to burnout.
Creating a workflow roadmap will help you think of meaningful changes to improve your workflow. Your roadmap should outline all of the processes, from beginning to end, it takes to complete a project or action. Your roadmap serves as your thinking board to optimize your workflow. When drafting your roadmap, strategize the steps you need to take to turn your vision into a reality.
If you’re ready to roadmap your workflow, you can find hundreds of templates and rpa automations online to build off of. In your roadmap, begin with a solid mapping of your current workflow process. Additionally, consider your business model when drafting your roadmap, because your processes should align with your overall business. Next, think of your goals and the priority of those goals, and ensure they’re kept in mind as you draft your improvement plan. After, think about how you plan to implement these changes and note them in your roadmap. You should also ask yourself who these changes are for and how they will affect the team. Another source of inspiration is looking at your competitor’s workflow if you have that information available. See what’s working with other companies, and determine if those can apply to your organization’s workflow.
After you’ve implemented some changes into your workflow, it’s time to review your changes to ensure you’re making the progress you need. Depending on your industry, you might want to look into workflow technology that can help you track your progress on different projects. If your employees work off-site and cater to clients in different areas, field service management software can help you. Management software can help you enhance customer experience, easily track payments and send invoices, and make analyzing and collecting simple, while also allowing you to review financial analytics.
After optimizing your workflow, you can’t be sure that your implemented changes will improve your workflow process. Instead, you’ll need to review and re-analyze your workflow metrics after implementing changes.
Sometimes, your environment may be the culprit to disrupting your workflow. If you’ve improved your workflow metrics after trial and error, but still find that your team isn’t reaching its full potential, it could be your office environment or company culture. Noise conditions, natural lighting, artificial lighting, decor (or lack thereof), air quality, and even temperature can disrupt productivity and workflow. If you think the environment of your employees is disrupting their productivity, try implementing some changes for improvement. Try adjusting the thermostat, adding some blue to your office as it’s known to evoke intellectuality and encourage concentration, or see if you need to bring in more natural lighting.
Another culprit to decrease productivity is potentially your company culture. Your company may unknowingly be supporting a toxic workplace culture by not supporting the dynamics between your employees and managers. If your team isn’t giving employees the recognition and reward they deserve after working so hard, your employees may quickly burn out and lose their motivation to do their best at work. Poor company culture can also lead to increased turnover and understaffing, putting more stress on your employees to complete projects with half the amount of people. To improve company culture, promote collaboration, reward your employees with corporate crystal awards for going above and beyond, focus on employee engagement, and promote work-life balance amongst your employees.
It is clear productivity is important to every business, no matter the industry. With some effort and careful planning, your team can implement changes to improve the day-to-day workflow of your employees, as well as your business as a whole. With these tips in mind, you’re on your way to implementing some positive changes to help improve your business and employees’ productivity.
Author Bio: Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.
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