Many business people are guilty of overcomplicating things, especially when working on a project or running their business.
Whether it is a quality inspection and control, monitoring a project, allocating and delegating work, or even going through a to-do list for the week, it is not uncommon for processes to be overcomplicated when in reality, they can be very easy and straightforward to implement.
One of the easiest ways to make things easier and streamline productivity in your workplace is to put a good work management software program in place.
This will enable you to streamline the work process, identify where you may be wasting more time than you need to, and find various opportunities where your workflow can be improved.
We’ve put together some key steps to take to improve and streamline your work process, helping you to develop a more efficient workflow to boost productivity across the board.
1. Conduct a Workflow Analysis
Many businesses don’t know as much as they should about their work process. Therefore, the first step that you should take towards improving your workflow should be to list every process and conduct a thorough analysis.
It is important to be aware of every process in each department or division of your business and how they operate. With this process, the ultimate goal is to determine how your business has been operating so far and identify any areas where improvements can be made.
Spend some time asking employees for feedback on processes and workflows to determine what might work better for your team.
2. Identify Key Focus Areas
Once your current work process has been analyzed, you will find it much easier to find opportunities for improvement.
There are various things to look out for among your employees that could be a key sign that improvements are in order. Breakdowns in communication, unclear instructions, work taking longer than it should as a result, and a general lack of motivation among the team are all signs that something different needs to be done.
Looking out for these signs and speaking to employees will help you identify factors that may be affecting the efficiency and effectiveness of your existing workflow.
You can also use a good CMMS software at this point to further identify any areas that are not working as well as they could be. Check out this website to learn more about some top CMMS software options for your company.
3. Determine Process Steps
Next, it is important to consider your work process as a whole before breaking it down into a series of steps that are smaller and more manageable. The simpler and smaller you can get each step, the better.
Today, many businesses have work processes that are far too complicated, which leads to overly focusing on decision points within the project rather than finding the best way to get the work done.
Keeping your process simple with a step-by-step approach to reaching the final goal is the best way to achieve the desired outcome faster and with better results.
4. Rank Steps in Order of Priority
Once you have determined the steps involved in the process, it is time to figure out which ones are more important than others.
A good way to do this is to have a scale of one to ten and rate each process on the scale, with one being the most important and ten being the least important.
To help you do this, you might want to consider using a visual workflow tool such as a Kanban board where you can easily list the tasks in order of importance and track the progress as you begin to work on them.
5. Consider Using Automation Tools
Today, there is really no need to get everything done manually, no matter what industry your business operates in.
Automation tools are available to help you get things done faster and more efficiently in most areas of running a business, so it is a wise idea to take advantage of as many options as you can, freeing up your own time and your team’s time to work on the more important, intensive tasks that require a lot of human input.
There are tons of software programs, apps, and tools available that are specifically designed to help businesses and project teams better streamline their workflows and processes.
6. Conduct Regular Tests
Don’t assume that your new work process is going to work well right off the bat. The best thing that you can do is conduct regular tests to ensure that your new process works effectively and is getting you the desired result.
Testing as early as possible makes it easier for you and your team to quickly identify any gaps in the workflow that could lead to problems later down the line and find early solutions to avoid a loss of productivity later.
7. Keep Clear Documents and Records
One of the biggest mistakes that both managers and team members make in business is to try and carry out processes and tasks from memory.
While you may be able to easily remember some of the most important things that you have to do, most people will struggle to remember every single one. Laying out every step included in the process that you’re following will enable you to get the work done effectively.
There are various ways to do this – as mentioned earlier, a Kanban board (either physical or virtual) can be an ideal choice for teams where everybody needs to be aware of where you are up to, or you could simply use a spreadsheet or a notepad if that works better for you.
Keep records of what is happening and where you are up to in the process to ensure that everything is running smoothly as it should.
8. Make Adjustments Where Needed
Being ready to make adjustments where needed is important once you have tested your new workflow and processes in the everyday workplace environment. Keep a close eye on your results and be ready to make improvements, adjustments, and changes as and when required.
As you start to use your new work process, solutions, and automation tools to improve efficiency and productivity, you may find that certain aspects are not working as well as expected, or problems arise with the new workflow that you did not anticipate.
During this stage, it is crucial for the entire team to be open-minded and ready to make improvements along the way to ensure that everything is working as smoothly and as effectively as possible.
9. Train Your Team Before You Implement Your New Workflow
Once you’ve tested and made any necessary improvements to your new workflow in the live workplace environment, it is important to ensure that there are no delays in implementation.
Before going live with your new work processes, it is a wise idea to ensure that all employees are ready to hit the ground running. It can be a good idea to hold a training session with each member of the team to introduce new solutions and automation tools and all new aspects of your workflow before putting everything into action.
Before getting started, making sure that everybody is on board and has a solid understanding of how the new work process will look will ensure that it runs smoothly and everyone gets the most out of it.
10. Be Ready to Make Even More Adjustments
Finally, it is important to understand that no workflow or work process is going to be absolutely perfect.
Even after testing and making adjustments at the start, there is always the chance that things are going to change even further after the implementation of your new work process.
Whether you need to change the workflow management solutions that you use or rearrange the priority of tasks, it is a good idea to have a flexible mindset throughout the business and be ready to make adjustments and improvements continuously overtime to ensure that the workflow is always as effective as possible.
In this situation, it might be worth considering adopting an Agile workflow where continuous iterations and improvements are a key priority.
Staying one step ahead of the process by doing as much as you can to get clear insights into your work processes and workflows will ensure that you notice opportunities for improvement as soon as they arise.
Many businesses are in a situation where productivity and workflows have a lot of potentials to be improved and streamlined.
Overcomplicating things is more common than you might think in businesses and project management settings, and it can often hold a company back from getting the best results in a most effective timeframe.
No matter what industry your business operates in, getting a clear look at your current work processes in order to define areas of improvement, create a clear hierarchy of tasks based on priority and implement tools and solutions designed to automate tasks and streamline work processes is essential to improve your outcomes.
Whether it is a certain area of your business that could do with improvement or a complete workflow overhaul, we hope that these ten steps are helpful.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.