As a business person, entrepreneur or emarketer, we tend to complicate things, even the most basic stuff. This is especially true when it comes to our business workflow and processes. It doesn’t matter if you work with onboarding new customers, vendor shipments, or quality control. Your daily job is about following one or several processes. The fact is, the more efficiently and effectively you do these processes allows you to do your job much.
It’s estimated that businesses can lose as much as 20 to 30 per cent of revenue every year because of inefficiencies.
Below is a list of things you can do to improve your business workflow and processes for more efficiency which of course leads to more profit.
Review your business workflows
It may seem odd, however you would be surprised how many large organizations don’t document and/or define their work processes–even their core money-making processes.
This means the first step is to list all of the processes or workflows that you do in business. Brake it down by divisions, departments and individuals and your daily work. List each process, write down what you believe the purpose of that process is, and then list all of the people within your organization involved with this process.
The goal is to be as thorough and exhaustive as you can. You may want team members to focus or refine your list in their areas of specialty. Even if it seems like a simple or routine process, like managing client projects or sales follow up or answering the phone, if it takes someone’s effort on a regular basis to do it, it’s a process – list it.
Rank Your Business Processes
Most people don’t realize how many processes keep their company running each day, week and money. Plus, people don’t realize how many hands or even inefficiencies there are on a daily basis.
Next, take the time to rank each business workflow you’ve listed from most important to least important. Honestly, it’s not easy. Many processes seem very important while others are not, but could be. Yet, for some, most processes seem super important. Why else would you do them?
Many processes are often internal to keep the business working, yet don’t touch the end customer directly. As difficult as it is, rank your processes for no other reason than to help decide which process to streamline first and down the list.
Break Down Your Business Processes
Next, select and break down one of your processes into concrete steps, the more granular the better. Some people are visual, so it’s easier to draw out the process on a piece of paper. Other people prefer outlining their business workflow process on a spreadsheet. The process which works best for your to understand the workflow is the best system.
Seriously, keep it simple. Many business processes can be complex, so it’s easy to get caught up in all the various conditions, situations or decision points within any given process. It’s most important to generally capture the beginning, middle and end. Understand the outcome and work backward.
Process Time Lines
How long do your processes take to complete? Do some tests to figure out much time is wasted during the process and which parts of the process can be improved.
Time truly equals money in the business world. If you can find large or small tweets to improve processes, including removing people from one process to another where more support is needed. The company can save a lot of money over time as the results of compounded efficiency delivers it’s magic.
Automate Your Business Workflow
An estimated 75% percent of businesses report using spreadsheets to track their critical processes and projects. Sad. Although it’s a simple solution, a spreadsheet to track a critical business workflow can be a problem. They’re difficult to share and keep up to date. Especially because as most people have to email them around to other team members and clients for updates. Spreadsheets are also prone to data errors, as people mistakenly overwrite someone else’s input or just “fat finger” the wrong information or formula into a spreadsheet row or cell.
The good news is that there are many of modern workflow software solutions, such as eProcurement software which are specifically designed to help streamline business processes and workflows.
Document Workflow Management
Consider a document workflow management system which allows you to quickly and easily filter searches, run reports, and manage multiple documents. This can include the approval and sales process. The ability to search for a specific item, review folders, and task lists can be amazingly efficient.
Ask For Feedback
Very few processes are ever perfect. The main reason is business and world around us is always changing, so it only makes sense that our work processes need to evolve over time as well.
When working through your processes, is a good opportunity to ask for help from your colleagues, co-workers, and supervisors. Get feedback from anyone directly or indirectly involved in the business process chain. Ask their opinion on how to streamline steps, improve efficiency, or maybe try something never done before. Sometimes you will identify big changes to a process, more often such input to improve is often small. Don’t discredit these small tweaks. It’s amazing how the smallest improvements can have a big impact.
Wash, Rinse and Repeat
We understand no process or workflow is perfect. So, once you’ve improved your existing processes or have implemented new workflow, expect to refine your process over time. Modern business workflow solutions are better than spreadsheets and make it easier to refine your process.
Moving forward review your processes on a regular basis. A small adjustment requires less effort than a complete overhaul. It’s important to stay on track. Hold reviews regularly, and always be on the lookout for effective solutions. Don’t forget, even the smallest change can make a difference.
Despite your good intentions, workflow processes often become overly complex over time. We had steps rather than remove steps long the way. Fortunately, understanding how to effectively streamlining your existing methods can prevent this the bloat of complex processes. A simpler workflow means you are able to save time (and money), improve overall efficiency, and boost business productivity.