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Business Workflow Improvement: 5 Tips To Higher Productivity

An efficient business is a profitable business, which is why consistent workflow improvement is crucial. 
Clean workflows help us keep focus when things get rushed. Whether there’s a staff shortage, a surge of clients or a looming financial year-end, busy periods don’t have to be chaos. With optimized processes, the cogs can keep turning.

Ready to optimize your workflows?

What Is A Business Workflow?

A business workflow is anything that involves the transfer of data between parties in order to get something done. From the simple to the complicated, it’s a blanket term for a wide variety of scenarios. 

For example, imagine your office coffee supply is finished. A dire crisis indeed, but it’s manageable. Someone reports this – transferring the information that the coffee is finished. The person responsible places an order for more coffee with the supplier. When the supplier delivers the coffee, it’s signed off on and this workflow is completed (riots averted). 

This is the simplest of workflows, but you get the idea.

Should You Invest In Workflow Improvement? 

Man thinking about workflow improvement, visualized by the black board behind him
Any time you’re trying to change or – in this case – improve something, there’ll be an investment. In this case, it’ll most likely be your time (or that of your staff). 

We’ve seen companies (first hand) who invest in a better workflow and cut their admin work by as much as 80%, cut an entire 40-hour workweek and increase safety reporting rates – all by optimizing processes. 

These were all Appenate users – but this doesn’t mean you need to use Appenate to follow the below tips. It’s totally optional. 😉

The point is, workflow improvement is well worth the investment. 

1. Digitize Your Workflow

We’re way past saving trees – going paperless is about saving businesses. 

Switching to a digital means of data capture, processing and sharing is a no-brainer these days. We’ve already eliminated the need to travel back and forth to transport paper documents – we have scanners and email for that. Even those have now become an inefficiency, however.

Why bother scanning and mailing when you have tools that can do the same automatically?

Killing inefficiencies like these can help save time to focus on profit-critical activities. On top of that, you’ll have better transparency and accountability within your business with a digital system.

To get started down this path, take a look at this blog post on Mobile Form Builders

2. Map Out Your Workflow

If you’re going to take anything away from this post, let it be this point. 

Breaking down and mapping out your workflow into small, manageable steps can make all the difference. You’ll get to take a look at all the moving parts and identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies with greater ease. You’ll be able to direct your focus to where it’s needed most, and make the most out of your time spent on workflow improvement. 

3. Increase Process Visibility

Naturally, this is where digitalization can help. If you’re using paper to drive your workflows, it can be hard to pinpoint where in the process a certain task is. 

Using a digital tool – even something free like Google Docs – can help you keep an eye on the progress. If you’re not ready to switch to something like Appenate, why not set up shared drives for your teams?

This could be as simple as creating a folder and sharing it with that specific team. Set up folders within this main folder and structure them according to your process.

For example, your folders might be set up like this: “Not Assigned; Assigned; In Progress; Inspection Required; Invoice Required; Complete.” 

That way, whenever you’re curious about the progress of an item, you can hop onto the drive and check where it is. To ease the search, set up a naming convention for your files. For example, make the order number mandatory in a title. That way you can use Google Drive’s search function to find a specific order quickly.

If you’re curious, here’s why data visibility is so important

4. Hire An Expert

When the mere thought of pulling apart your processes gives you a headache, it might be worth calling in an expert.

An outside opinion is always valuable. It’s true that you’re sometimes too close to the problem – we’ve all experienced this. Hiring a professional consultant also means getting someone who deals with workflows all day long.

If you’d like, we could put you in touch with one of our own registered Consulting Partners – they’re Appenate experts, but they won’t use Appenate in your business if it’s not a fit. Their chief priority is to help you.

Drop us an email if you’d like us to connect you, else feel free to head to your favourite search engine and do some poking around. 

5. Enforce Healthy Training Procedures

As the most indirect tip of the 5, this one ensures that your processes stay effective.

It’ll do very little good if you implement better, faster and more efficient processes only to have them fall by the wayside later. And all due to a loss of knowledge.

Make sure that, while you’re improving your workflows, you capture the knowledge necessary to pass on and ensure continuous adherence to the procedures you’ve put in place.

Process Improvement Takes Time

We hope you’ve found this article useful. To end off, let’s touch on one last thought. 

Workflow improvement is not an overnight process. It’s a commitment that takes time and experimentation. And any time there’s experimentation, there’s bound to be the odd failure. 

Never let it stop you – failures are simply learning opportunities, so we can avoid the same mistakes going forward.

Best of luck improving your processes. 

If you’d like to get in touch with one of our certified Consulting Partners, send us an email