Productivity

Your Workflow Process Improvement Guide: 8 Steps to a More Efficient Workflow

Workflow process improvement is a continuous process in any organization. But how do you carry it out properly? Go through our simple 8-step guide below.

Introduction

Gone are the days of manual processes — the future is automation.

That’s where workflows come in.

In any business, multiple departments carry out various processes in a day. Oftentimes, bottlenecks can occur, deterring your progress.

To increase workflow efficiency, the first step is to pinpoint where the problem lies and how you can improve.

Without doing so, it would be difficult to streamline your processes.

What does workflow process improvement look like? 

We know that the goal of any workflow is to help complete tasks in a step-by-step format.

But, what is process improvement?

For workflows specifically, a process improvement plan is an outline that analyzes and monitors which tasks are essential for success.

The more efficient your workflow, the more productive your employees are.

It cuts down the time taken to complete tasks drastically. This also means you’re saving on costs, ultimately leading to greater profitability.

It also enables you to focus more on data-driven decisions.

Obviously, it also helps you to stay on track with your project. From a customer perspective as well, it improves the value an organization is providing. This can keep you one step ahead of your competitors.

Without leaning on workflow automation, an organization can revert back to its outdated methods.

But even when attempting to move forward, there can be a few bumps on the road.

Common workflow challenges & their solutions

Most businesses understand the need for automation in their processes.

But what they don’t foresee are the obstacles they’ll have to face when trying to sustain it in the long run.

A McKinsey research shows that 70 percent of complex, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals.

In that case, what key challenges should organizations keep in mind to avoid such failures?

Challenge #1: Having trouble defining the process

Diverging from archaic manual processes can be tough. Especially when your employees are well-versed in how it works.

Without making them understand what their new tasks and responsibilities are, implementing a  workflow might backfire. 

Solution #1: Use simple & detailed instructions

Before outlining your workflow, allocate enough time to understand how the automation process works. Break down each step and provide clarity on what the roles and responsibilities look like.

Go through each task and sub-task to see that the process makes sense to the users.

Re-evaluate and analyze the business documents that are being referred to as well. In this case, documenting workflows can be a huge help. 

Challenge #2: Employee resistance

Introducing a workflow can prove to be a difficult transition period for the organization as a whole.

Employees are used to doing this a certain way, and a new process can seem intimidating.

This can diminish productivity and encourage disengagement among them.

Solution #2: Communicate the benefits

Before you set up a workflow, run your employees through how it will help them.

Highlight how it’ll make their work lives easier. This means that they can focus on other activities outside their day-to-day tasks.

You can even start training sessions before the implementation. This way, employees will feel more comfortable using a new process.

With Scribe, you can easily document any process with text and screenshots. Here’s a tutorial on reviewing your pipeline in Salesforce — made with Scribe.

Challenge #3: Reconciling data sources

With various departments and clients, organizations often use manual methods to retain their data. It also happens that the data remains scattered.

Without the correct data, it can get difficult to outline the correct process to follow.

Solution #3: Create a central data management system

A workflow demands transparency, which also means a system where data is visible to everyone in the business.

For that, these multiple sources must be siloed to streamline the processes.

Invest in workflow documentation tools that can help you unify the data so that you can make better-informed decisions.

Challenge #4: Choosing the wrong process for automation

Not every process in an organization needs to be streamlined. Some tasks still require a sense of flexibility.

When rolling out such new measures, management forgets to take the human factor into account.

Some simple processes only require a structure, while others may need a complete overhaul.

Solution #4: Plan Before Implementation

Successfully implementing a workflow requires you to look at which processes have a bigger impact on the organization.

Look at which tasks are causing overbearing costs, prolonged time, and so on.

Think about if there’s a way you can simplify the process. With Scribe, generating a guideline becomes 15 times easier.

Dodging these challenges might have you thinking, “Our workflow will definitely be successful.”

But it can only sustain itself for so long.

There’s a constant need to monitor the processes to trigger any definitive actions needed.

How to continue to improve your processes? 8 Easy steps

According to another McKinsey report, one-third of the tasks in two-thirds of current jobs can be automated.

That means there’s still a chance to refine existing workflows in many organizations.

So, how do you do it?

Step 1: Analyze existing workflow to pinpoint bottlenecks

Most organizations struggle with understanding their workflows. In that case, internal teams must go through each process and learn how it’s carried out.

The idea is to identify what has been going wrong so that you can reduce the errors. 

Your employees are your best bet in this case.

They can help you narrow down which areas need improvement. This way, you know what to focus on.

Ask yourself whether certain steps are unnecessary and which have the greatest impact.

Step 2: Simplify your workflow where possible

Carrying out a process can often be complex.

There are multiple tasks to consider, and some take up more time than necessary.

For bigger steps, break them down into simpler tasks. Make sure each task can be completed smoothly to reach your desired outcome. 

To further improve your workflow, identify which processes are more important.

Rank them accordingly to make sure the proper structure is followed.

Step 3: Encourage proper documentation for every process

The goal of having a workflow is to list down every task occurring in your organization.

For that, you’ve to create a formal outline of what your process might look like. 

Write down everything that relates to your workflow and store it somewhere. You can later use it as a reference as well.

Step 4: Introduce automation into your workflow

The words “workflow’ and “automation” go hand in hand. To make manual processes obsolete, it’s important to manage your workflow properly.

This means using tools like Scribe to automate documentation. A significant number of processes can be digitized, making your lives easier.

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Step 5: Evaluate the workflow with a test-run

You already have clear goals for your workflow, so how to ensure they’re meeting those?

Put your workflow through the wringer, and test it within known and unknown environments. 

This way, you can see whether your workflow is as effective as you think. Repeat the process over and over again to make sure you don’t hit any snags.

Step 6: Implement changes where necessary

Now that you’ve tested your workflow, you can easily see what’s working and what isn’t. This enables you to make tweaks as you go along.

It’s easy to get impatient as it can be a long trial process. However, in the long term, taking your time will enable a better, more effective workflow.

Step 7: Roll out your new workflow

It’s finally time for the big reveal. Does your workflow actually work?

When starting to use a workflow, make sure your employees are aware. Don’t catch them off-guard.

Slowly integrate the workflow into your system. Book sessions where you can explain what the process entails.

Ensure they don’t have any misconceptions about how the new system works.

Step 8: Upgrade Your Workflow as You Go

Even after implementation, things can go wrong with your workflow. You might meet your short-term goals, but you’ve to think ahead.

Improvement is a continuous process, so take your time.

Identify whether you’re meeting the KPIs you’ve set. If not, see what’s hindering your growth. Make the necessary changes and re-introduce the system.

With any workflow, keep in mind it’s supposed to make your job easier. So when it’s not, it’s time for you to re-evaluate your process.

Make your workflows better with Scribe

Documentation is key when it comes to creating workflows. Scribe can help document any process within seconds. That too, with a step-by-step visual guide filled with texts and screenshots.

You can easily share your documentation along multiple channels. What’s great is that it only takes seconds of your time.