When it comes to running a business, the most challenging aspects are often putting everything in its place and being able to keep people motivated and ready to succeed. At the same time, it is easy to waste time due to lack of organization of processes . And in that respect, knowing what a workflow is and how it works can help a lot. In this article we will provide you the ways how to manage workflow in office?
There are workflow management solutions that formalize and standardize these workflows. They can help you prepare and manage your business on the right path. But it is also possible to start organizing your workflow (also called workflow in English ) without any specific tool. Know how!
What is workflow?
If you’ve ever followed a recipe for cooking, you’ve seen a workflow! Apart from the ingredients, the step-by-step of how to make the recipe is a workflow. It is a list of tasks that must be performed in a certain order to achieve a certain result.
But with the exception of restaurants, business workflows don’t usually involve ingredients or recipes. The order of tasks that must be followed to schedule an interview with a candidate in a recruitment process, follow up on a company’s accounts payable, or check if a bug has been resolved are all examples of workflows.
What workflows always have in common is that the order of tasks matters and that they must produce an expected result . In other words, the flow must happen in a specific order, and the result of it must be something known.
What are the 3 basic components of the workflow?
The three main components of a workflow are input, transformation, and output.
- Inputs: personnel, materials, equipment and other resources needed to achieve the objective.
- Transformation or Process: The predefined rules, instructions, and steps required to convert inputs to desired outputs.
- Outputs: the results, whether it’s a physical product, service, or even a trained employee.
Advantages of using workflows
Implementing a workflow system in your company will bring numerous structural improvements. Among them we can mention the following:
- The division of tasks is clearer and more understandable for all the departments of the company, with which a significantly higher effectiveness is achieved.
- As the responsibility of each employee is clearly defined, the decision-making process is simplified.
- Internal communications in the company are simpler, more agile and safer.
- You save time and money, as all staff know what to do at all times.
- Corporate job creation is encouraged and optimized .
- All business processes are integrated, regardless of their type, which favors coordination and avoids problems due to lack of understanding between different departments.
- For this same reason, the feeling of belonging to the group is reinforced in the employees. They all have an important mission to fulfill and are participants in the success of the company.
- Ultimately, the above points mean better service to the end customer.
It is clear, therefore, that establishing a workflow will make your company work better. Now what you need to know is what you have to do to get it up and running.
Steps to create a workflow
When setting up a workflow system in your company, you should follow this sequence to ensure success:
- Definition of objectives. As in any process, before starting it you need to know exactly what you want to achieve. What are the aspects of productivity in your company that are not working as they should? What results do you hope to obtain? Ask yourself these kinds of questions, because the answers will be needed for the next step.
- Workflow design. Depending on the needs that you have detected, you must evaluate the different action alternatives and decide on the ones that are best suited. It is important that you consider all the possible options, scenarios and variants; Only then will you achieve an optimal result. It is also appropriate to determine how to measure later if you have reached where you intended.
- Implementation. When you have it designed, it is advisable to do a preliminary test to make sure that everything will go as planned. Once done, it is time to apply the changes to the real production model.
- Results measurement. With the tools that you have previously selected, examine how the process has gone, obtain data, compare it with your expectations and, if necessary, make the appropriate adjustments to the design.
You must repeat the process until the result is fully satisfactory.
As we have seen, a workflow can be applied both to the set of operations of a company and to a specific area. In order to simplify , we propose a couple of cases of the second type.
- Welcome email. Once the client fills out a form and leaves their email, a message is automatically sent to them (from a template drawn up by the marketing department) in which, in addition to introducing you (generating engagement ) and thanking them for their trust in the company, You are informed of a specific product that you may be interested in buying based on your activity on our website. All this, managed by an algorithm that has been programmed by the computer equipment to be fully automatic. It is estimated that the commercial performance of a message like this can triple that of a common promotional email.
- Approval of a budget. If a client accepts the prices you have given him for a certain bespoke product, a cascade of events is triggered: the manufacturing process must be launched, which possibly implies requesting the necessary material from the suppliers, in addition to the assembly tasks; timely quality reviews must be carried out; if applicable, the shipping method must be agreed with the carriers. All this, while promptly informing the customer of the status of their order. If at the moment of accepting the budget an automatic order is launched to each department involved, you will achieve much more efficiency.
14 Ways to organize your office’s workflow
When you run a business, your greatest desire is for your workforce operations to be efficient and effective. However, this is easier said than done. It is typical for productivity to ebb and flow when there is no proper workflow automation system in place.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to increase productivity and improve workflow management.
1. Delegate more responsibilities
When your employees are already slowing down in the productivity department, it might go against your gut to give them more responsibility. However, when you give your employees more responsibility, it can improve productivity because it makes them more invested in results.
When your employees feel they have ownership over their projects, they put more effort into their endeavors. This has the added benefit of allowing you to do other functions yourself, because you don’t have to worry about micromanaging your employees.
2. Organize the office
Know that a messy place leads to a messy mind. When the office is cluttered with paperwork all over the place, documents and files disorganized, not only physically, but internally in computers and software, making it difficult to find files, it automatically interrupts productivity.
Being organized has many benefits, including a reduction in the amount of time it takes to search for an item, along with a stress-free environment. Staying organized often seems like a more difficult endeavor than the project your company works on, but if you work a little bit each day, you’ll be amazed at how easily organizing will become a habit.
Organizing your office isn’t just about cleaning up your workspace. It also means organizing and scheduling your time. When you’re organized with a schedule and appointments, you’re less likely to waste time, so you can focus more easily on your projects. You will also become a much more trustworthy person that your employees and superiors can count on.
Do your employees and yourself a favor by organizing your office space. Consider implementing a policy that prevents desk clutter and hiring a company to manage all company documents to keep everything in order. Using workflow automation software will also help you reduce paper usage or even go completely paperless.
3. Measure your productivity
You can’t determine whether your workflow is going easier or harder if you don’t have an indicator to compare to. Take steps to know exactly how productive your company is so you can use this data to inform your employees about how they can improve. Just the act of measuring productivity can make you more productive because you are paying more attention to your work.
4. Automate the workflow
A lot of time is wasted in offices on processes that can be fully automated. Investing in workflow automation software that streamlines your processes will save hours of coordination time between multiple individuals. Choose a system, which will allow you to spend less time worrying about paperwork.
5. Focus on one task at a time
When you’re running a business, there are many tasks that demand your attention, often at the same time. However, when you have your attention on too many fronts, you are actually doing nothing. Focus on completing each task you initiate and encourage your employees to do the same.
Starting everything and finishing nothing does not contribute to any project. If it is necessary to start some projects at the same time, separate specific teams for them and determine that each project is finished.
6. Set priorities
Productivity is often sabotaged by the inability to prioritize properly. Many tasks are important, almost all of them, but only time determines whether a task is urgent.
Everything is important, otherwise it would not be part of your company’s process, project or undertaking. However, prioritizing helps the workflow in the company. Note that this point can encompass three other topics in this article – delegating roles, organizing, and scheduling.
When you define what the priorities are, within the urgent and the important, you can assign specific people to each of them, and leave others to other tasks. This is organization with strategy. You allocate people in certain areas so that each task is carried out within the allotted time, that is, within the right time frame of your schedule.
It’s crucial to be able to distinguish between these two types of tasks and balance your time between them. And just because a task isn’t urgent doesn’t mean it isn’t important to prioritize.
7. Focus on communication
One of the biggest villains of productivity is the lack of communication. Therefore, it should be your top priority to improve communication between your team. When communication is unclear, unnecessary work is done, time is not efficiently divided between tasks, and resources are wasted.
You can improve communication by using a cloud-based system to automate the sharing of common documents between employees in real time. Additionally, focusing on your company culture and building relationships among workers will help increase understanding and improve communication across the office as a whole.
Just look at the current picture of general communication in your company and look for opportunities to improve. Keep your eyes peeled for any diminishing motivation, unclear instruction, or miscommunication.
Identify factors that can or are affecting the effectiveness of your existing process or workflow. Fill in the gaps and create a better version of your work process. Make sure your new and improved workflow has no gaps.
8. Frequent training
When employees are trained according to your company’s rules and processes, they will feel more comfortable and less intimidated by the work. When employees are intimidated by their workload or a current project, they tend to procrastinate and waste time, losing efficiency and productivity.
Even if they receive the same training more than once, it will allay any worries they may have and make them more confident and willing to tackle big and difficult projects.
9. Have an information center
When the company or office is in a frenetic pace of work, stopping everything to ask questions seems to break the workflow of others and even our own. Email exchange and communication is critical, but what if it came from a single source?
If the manager has to answer everyone’s questions all the time, the workflow will really be compromised. So one way to avoid question overload is to have a central place for information.
Ever wondered who employees turn to when they have questions? Set up a place, whether physical or virtual, where all information is available to your team, where everyone can update and consult it.
Whether it’s a document or a detailed project plan, taking a few minutes here and there to keep it up to date saves a lot of time in all.
When there is a system for sharing and storing information, many miscommunications and distractions disappear. And that means more focused employees across the company.
10. Simplify as much as possible
Too much bureaucracy, rules and regulations can disrupt the workflow in your company. A project that has to go through 4 or 5 people before going to the client or being finally approved takes a long time and can make employees lose focus.
We know that quality is essential, however, it must be combined with practicality and simplicity. Organize the steps in a way that everything is as simple as possible. Leave what is indispensable and remove what is unnecessary, simplicity will bring clarity to processes. Be sure about it.
11. Have a schedule with deadlines
Having a clear schedule is important. This will help your team stay organized and focused. Also, you must list dates for due dates. Visual schedules allow you to present all the activities of your project in an easy way. To create visually appealing timelines, you can use specialized software for this.
12. Have good document management
Having document management is a step in the right direction. Imagine the amount of time your team spent looking for a lost file. How many hours were spent entering information into a system?
How many hours have you taken team employees away from the tasks they should be doing to handle administrative tasks? Consider these advantages and invest in document management software.
Create a single place for everything
One of the main benefits of using a cloud-based system is that all the documents and materials your organization needs are located in one place. Of course, that also means it’s accessible from anywhere. This means that anyone on the team can access information on a common system without any problems.
This is one of the most important reasons to manage documents. Security is maximized when you move towards a cloud-based system or well-structured central filing system with extensive security built in. This way your business not only meets the new and growing privacy laws for documents and information, but also ensures that you can control and track who accesses what.
Good document management will make all the difference in your business workflow. It prevents document mixing that can occur when multiple employees store the same file in different locations, allowing them to collaborate on the same document simultaneously.
This ensures that everyone is working on the most up-to-date file, and the time that would have been spent moving documents and conversations through changes can be directed towards more valuable activities.
A document management can also offer version control, allowing older versions of the document to be retrieved if incorrect or unauthorized changes are made.
In addition, document management helps to automate workflows by recognizing document types and assigning the appropriate workflow template.
This makes document processing much easier – documents are immediately routed to the next employee in the chain once processed without anyone having to leave their desk, saving precious time and dramatically reducing processing errors such as multiple data entry .
Document management can effectively conduct the invoice verification process by using multiple ways to automatically add documents to the next employee’s to-do list, requiring no extra work on the part of the employee and ensuring that no step in the process is missed.
13. Take some breaks
Studies show that taking regular breaks improves workflow and the ability to focus on lengthy tasks. Refresh your mind by popping into the breakfast room or grabbing a quick bite. Recharge yourself by taking a 20-minute walk or stretching every few hours.
The workflow in your company will change by allowing employees to take frequent breaks. Much more than allowing, there should be an incentive for employees to give themselves that break.
14. If possible, use dual screen
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Of course, it’s not possible for everyone to use two screens due to desk space in your office or cubicle, but if you can use two screens, just do it.
It’s a much faster way to work. You could, for example, have the project on one screen and the email or online chat with the team open on another. You can better divide and organize your work.
However, it is important to note that some people work faster with a screen, mainly due to practice. Therefore, the idea is to indicate ways to improve the workflow, however, in a way that allows comfort and speed. You need to evaluate what works for your team, or for each individual employee.
A well-tuned workflow is also a useful way to map out team members’ daily tasks and remove any excesses or obstacles. An efficient workflow helps enforce your organization’s operational practices from simple to complex tasks.
MANAGING WORKFLOWS FROM OUTSIDE THE OFFICE
Some time ago, we talked about automated workflows and how they can effectively streamline a process like accounts payable . This case is very representative since it affects any company, regardless of the nature of its business. However, we can automate any other process , whatever the department and the types of documents involved in it.
Business processes need to fit your business. For this, it is essential to be able to control them flexibly. It is advisable to first look at the difference between “process” and “workflow” and the role that documents play in it. Then we’ll see how to organize workflows from outside the office.
We hope that you have understood the the ways how to manage workflow in office?