Of all the corporate trends to watch in 2022, workflow optimization is one that is worth your attention. Why? Because optimizing your company’s workflow process can have a significant impact on its overall performance.
Workflow efficiency is a crucial factor in any organization. Unfortunately, it is often an afterthought — something that is only considered when things start to break down. By then, however, it may be too late.
In this article, we will explore six tips for building a better workflow process. These tips will help you to optimize your company’s workflow and improve its overall performance.
Let’s dive in!
What is a workflow process?
If you’re a manager or business owner, you’ll be familiar with the workflow of your company. But what is a workflow process, in terms of definition?
A workflow process is the series of steps that are taken to complete a task or project. This can include everything from assigning tasks, to tracking progress, to approving or rejecting completed work. By creating and following a standardized workflow process, you can help ensure that tasks are completed efficiently and effectively.
Your workflow includes:
- The steps that need to be taken to complete a task or project
- Who is responsible for each step
- When each step needs to be completed
- How progress will be tracked and reported
Though workflow optimization is all the rage, it’s been around for a long time. It can be traced back to the rise of factory production lines, where each worker had a specific task to complete as part of the overall process.
In the modern workplace, workflow optimization is essential for ensuring that tasks are completed efficiently and effectively. Let’s take a look at some tips for building a better workflow process.
Tip 1: Assess the processes you currently use
If you’ve navigated to this article, it may be the case that you’re dissatisfied with your current workflow process. In that case, the first step is to take a step back and assess the processes you’re currently using.
List down all of the processes you implement at the moment. These might be things like how you handle email, how you track and manage tasks, or even how you communicate with team members. Once you have a comprehensive list, group related processes together.
Now it’s time to assess these processes in terms of efficiency. For each process, ask the following questions:
- How long does this process take?
- What are the potential pain points?
- Are there any steps that can be eliminated or automated?
- Can this process be streamlined in any way?
Answering these questions will help you to identify areas for improvement. You may find that some processes are taking longer than they need to, or that there are steps that can be automated or streamlined.
Tip 2: Learn to effectively prioritize
One of the most crucial lessons you can ever learn in business is how to effectively prioritize your work. What’s important now may not be as important a few hours, days, or weeks from now. It’s essential that you take the time to assess what tasks need to be done, and then figure out which ones are the most urgent.
There are a number of different techniques you can use to help you prioritize your work. One popular method is the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps you break tasks down into four categories:
- Urgent and important
- Important, but not urgent
- Urgent, but not important
- Neither urgent nor important
You can then further prioritize tasks by placing them in one of the four quadrants. Tasks that are both urgent and important should be given the highest priority, while tasks that are neither urgent nor important can often be pushed down the list or even eliminated altogether.
Another popular prioritization technique is the ABCDE Method. This system breaks tasks down into five categories:
- A tasks are high priority and need to be done immediately
- B tasks are lower priority, but still need to be done relatively soon
- C tasks can often be put off for a while
- D tasks are tasks that can be eliminated altogether
- E tasks are extra tasks that aren’t related to your work
You can then prioritize your tasks by placing them in one of the five categories. Again, A tasks should be given the highest priority, while D tasks can often be eliminated altogether.
Learning how to effectively prioritize your work is one of the most important skills you can have in business. By using one of the techniques mentioned above, you can make sure that you’re always working on the most important tasks and that your workflow process is as efficient as possible.
Tip 3: Get to know your workforce
What’s the best way to keep your workforce efficient? Simple: assign each person to the role they are best at. To do this, however, you need to know your workforce.
Take some time out of each day over the coming weeks to get to know your employees. Try to find out the following for each person:
- Their skills and strengths — not just what they say on their resume, but what they can actually do
- Their preferred working style — are they more introverted or extroverted? Do they like to work independently or as part of a team?
- What motivates them — money, recognition, the desire to help others?
- What tasks have they proven to be good at — not just tasks they enjoy, but tasks they are good at and that produce results
With this information in hand, you can start to assign people to roles that play to their strengths and make the most of their skills. You can also start to create a team that is both motivated and effective.
For example, if you find out that one of your employees is great at managing budgets, you could assign them to be the budget manager for your team. This not only takes advantage of their skills, but it also gives them a sense of responsibility and purpose within the team.
Anywhere you can assign someone a task they are good at and that motivates them is a win-win for both the individual and the team; it cuts down on wasted time and resources, and it helps employees to feel valued and fulfilled.
Tip 4: Perfect your communication strategies
Communication truly is key, no matter what type of workflow you’re implementing. As different members of the team come together to complete tasks, they need to be able to communicate effectively with each other. This means establishing protocols for communication and making sure all team members are aware of them.
To set up effective communication, consider the following tips:
Define clear lines of communication for different tasks. This will help ensure everyone is on the same page and knows who to contact for specific questions or issues.
Use a designated chat tool or messaging app for team communication. There are a number of great options available, such as Slack, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams. This will help keep all communication in one central location and make it easy to search for past conversations.
Encourage everyone to communicate openly and honestly. This includes both asking for help when needed and offering assistance to others.
Make sure team members are aware of the expected response time for different types of communication. For example, if someone is sending a quick question, they may not need a response right away, but if there’s an issue that needs to be addressed urgently, they’ll need to know to expect a faster response.
Establish a protocol for escalation in case of communication breakdowns. In cases where communication is not effective, it can help to have a plan in place for how to address the issue and get everyone back on track.
Regularly check in with team members to ensure they’re feeling comfortable with the communication strategies in place. Adjusting and tweaking communication protocols as needed is essential for ensuring everyone is able to effectively communicate.
By taking the time to set up effective communication strategies, you’ll help your team work more efficiently and effectively together.
Tip 5: Use the tools available to you
In 2022, there’s an app for every stage of the pipeline — from communication and task management to design and prototyping. While it may be tempting to try and cobble together a Frankenstein’s monster of an app suite, using the right tools for the job can save you time and headaches.
For example, if you’re collaborating on a project with other team members, consider using a tool like Asana, which lets you create and assign tasks, share files, and communicate in real-time.
If you’re working on a design project, Sketch may be a better bet than Photoshop — it’s vector-based, so it can scale to any size without losing quality, and it has built-in features for creating and exporting prototypes.
Tools take the guesswork out of your process and can help you move more quickly and efficiently. And, as mentioned, there’s a tool for pretty much everything — so there’s no excuse not to use them for greater productivity!
For reference, here’s a compiled list of some popular design and productivity tools:
- Adobe Photoshop: great for photo editing, web designing, and logo design
- Adobe Illustrator: for vector illustrations, logos, and icons
- Sketch: vector-based design software with built-in prototyping features
- InVision: powerful prototyping and collaboration tool
- Asana: task management for teams
- Trello: kanban-style task management
- Google Docs: collaborative word processing
- Slack: team communication and collaboration
- Day.io: time tracking and productivity monitoring
- Jira: project management and issue tracking
Tip 6: Constantly revise your workflow
Successful companies are run by people who never stop looking for ways to improve. The same should be true for your workflow process. Constantly revise it to make sure it’s as efficient as possible.
Are there steps that can be eliminated or combined? Can you automate any of the tasks? Can you make the process easier for users? These are all questions worth exploring.
An excellent way to remain in a state of constant revision is to schedule time each week to review and update your workflow. This will help ensure that it’s always running as smoothly as possible.
Workflow Process: In Summary
If you’re reading this article, this is your year to get organized and streamline your workflow. There are plenty of tools and resources out there to help, but it ultimately comes down to you to create and stick to a system that works for you.
Keep our six top tips in mind as you design your process, and you’ll be well on your way to efficient productivity in no time.