One of the key factors to the success of professional services providers is an efficient workflow. Inefficient processes can consume time and energy, as well as cost your business money. Fortunately, workflow automations can vastly improve productivity by eliminating bottlenecks, redundancies, and other workflow-impeding maladies. These five key workflow optimization tips will help you identify potential issues within your organization and take steps to eliminate them.
What is Workflow Optimization?
Efforts undertaken to improve the use of time and resources, while reducing costs, are collectively referred to as workflow optimization.
Streamlining your workflow will require the implementation of a human and process-centric strategy. Intrinsic to your success will be considerations of human behavior as well as identification of repetitive tasks and the availability of needed resources. The idea is to make the necessary data and tools readily available and easily accessible to enable staff members to operate at peak productivity.
This starts with defining your processes.
Conduct a Process Analysis
The best way to start is to identify the tasks required to conduct each specific operation. These, of course, will vary depending on your profession. However, some of the most common tasks include onboarding new clients, managing receivables and processing payrolls.
Look back over the past month or so and take inventory of tasks performed. Group them according to the functions they serve. Identify the staff members responsible for each task and the activities required. Take note of the data they need, the deliverables for which they are responsible and the factors upon which they must depend to function.
Examine Your Current Processes
Observe how the various processes in your organization inform the actions of one another. In so doing, you will likely see areas in which workflows are constricted. You may also discover redundancies of which you may not have been aware. In some cases, you’ll probably encounter tasks that do not add value or do not require decisions. These are likely candidates for automation.
Pay careful attention to instances in which one person must wait for another to perform a task before they can act. Are there areas in which one person is overloaded while another one has an inordinate amount of free time? Look for opportunities to distribute the workload more equitably in order to minimize downtime stemming from such bottlenecks.
Solicit Stakeholder Feedback
Consulting the people who do the work is absolutely essential. They are likely to be aware of aspects of your processes of which you are unaware. Workers often introduce shortcuts because they’ve discovered more efficient ways to accomplish the tasks they perform on a daily basis.
Moreover, these are the people who will have to work within the revised workflow. The more you can do to keep processes familiar to them in place, the more likely you are to get their buy-in. Your odds of success will improve dramatically as a result.
That said, when something must change, make sure your team understands why, rather than forcing it upon them with no explanation. Fostering a collaborative atmosphere is favorable to adoption.
Introduce Automation Tools Where Needed
There are a number of automation tools available to help optimize workflows. Processes such as onboarding, invoicing, accounting, and proposal composition are prime candidates for automation. The best of these tools offer centralization so you can ensure ready access to the most current information is always available. This can minimize time-wasting interactions among workers.
Do what you can to ensure these automation tools integrate with your existing business-critical solutions wherever possible. This will flatten learning curves and help smooth adoption. It will also reduce the likelihood of dealing with a variety of third-party tools incapable of communicating among themselves.
Monitor, Evaluate, and Adjust
Workflow optimization is far from being an “implement it and forget it” process. It’s important to observe your new procedures in action to ensure they really are beneficial.
What’s the more, technological, market, employee, and client transformations can bring about the need for adjustments to maintain your workflow optimization. You’ll need to keep an eye on your processes to ensure their continued efficacy.
These five workflow optimization tips will help your organization get more done in less time by minimizing inefficiencies. This can relieve the stresses that often accompany inefficient workflows, as well as improve your profitability.
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