If you haven’t documented your workflows yet you’ll be pleased to hear this isn’t an enormous task and it is likely not as complex or daunting as you might think. It can be achieved in manageable sections rather than one job, simply describing in stages what you do and each member of your team do every day.Even cleaning your teeth could have a simple workflow.
- Open the bathroom door
- Walk through the doorway
- Close the door behind you
- Go to the sink in bathroom
- Pick up your toothbrush
- Put toothpaste on your toothbrush
- Turn on the cold tap
- Wet your toothbrush
- Turn off the tap
- Clean your teeth
- Turn on the tap
- Rinse your mouth and brush
- Turn off tap and put everything back where it was till later
- Open the door
- Walk through the door
- Close the door behind you
You may note that not everyone incorporates all of these steps and some will have more, many will not have them in the same order even for a task as simple as cleaning their teeth. This is the difference between bespoke configuration and off the shelf, your business needs its tools configuring to suit what it knows works. However while digitalizing processes there is an opportunity to enhance and refine processes to make them more efficient. Look at the process above, an example of an improvement to others process is some leave taps on wasting water while brushing.
The benefit of a workflow is not only the automation of certain tasks while digitizing but also it enables analysis. Analysis and clear understanding unveils where savings and improvements, like saving water while cleaning your teeth, can be made.
Ok so you’re a professional and this may seem like kindergarten, let’s pick up the pace from workflow 101. Your business processes, you first need to create a flow
chart of the process as it exists. Every single step must be shown on it. No step should be omitted in order to pretty things up or shorten it on paper.
Before you, or we, look to put this workflow together in Requestbox count the number of steps in the flow chart so that you know how many you started with. Typically 30-50% can be removed. To implement the actual simplification, you must question why each step is performed. Typically, you will find that several steps exist in your work flow for no good reason at all. Often it is found they are there due to tradition; the process has evolved or because formal procedure insists upon it. If nothing practical requires their inclusion get rid of them. Look for steps that:
- Fall into other processes and will happen regardless. (e.g. walk through doorway when cleaning teeth)
- Simply don’t need to happen.
- Were once helpful, but are now outdated.
- Are simply office bureaucracy. (e.g. More reviews and approvals = slower, inefficient process. If you trust your team to produce quality work let them crack on and then just review the finished article not approve every stage of the process.)
Efficient language choice is the next great tip. You will likely have the opportunity to consolidate steps together into tasks. Look to clearly begin every task with a verb. As you delegate, this makes it clear what you expect the assignee to do before they mark the task as complete.
While you are at it, many such tasks have a level of expectation to satisfy. It would be great for clarity to add a description to clearly communicate expectations before you assign work. As you share the clear definitions with your team, it gives your assignees a framework to reference as they execute so that they can self-serve and answer the questions themselves reducing the requirement of your input and improving their productivity and autonomy.
You already know your team and their specific roles within your business. It’s time to determine who is best suited for each of the tasks. You could then have a simple conversation with each team member when showing them the workflow as a whole and explain the definitions of ‘done’ for their task. This provides and opportune time to discuss the timescales for completing the individual tasks. You can use these to enable a timeline and effective scheduling.
Most managers realize that multiple tasks can be worked upon simultaneously by different team members saving a lot of time. These conversations are also enlightening to see how much any one team member can take on. The aim, to create a timeline with a view of how far in advance you should begin assigning the tasks required. Many find that the upside down back to front approach, starting with the end and timing tasks to the start, enables scheduling early to ensure completion ahead of deadlines in case of any unforeseen delays.
Now that you have everything in a compact and efficient well described single or set of workflows it is time to get Requestbox configures.
Once the workflows are configured Requestbox will do the mundane task of process management for you i.e.:
- Notify the assignee when you delegate a task so they know what to do.
- Communicate the due date for that task.
- Remind the assignee again, at whatever intervals you choose, that their task is due to ensure the tasks gets completed ahead of the ultimately required schedule.
You can then set about being more productive with the additional time freed up.
Of course this doesn’t mean you have to manage the team blindly, you can see an overview grid of where things are at, in real time, whenever you choose.
In addition, you could also have system generated reports, designed your way by you, to show what you want, scheduled to be produced and sent to your inbox, or better still a link to see it published on the platform saving vast amounts of your email server space sent to you and the other team members involved so they have a further reminder if they need to pull their sock up or put in a little extra effort to keep things on schedule.
Show me one of your workflows and I’ll show you your Requestbox. One by one you can add them to get you on a path to working 30%+ less and/or achieving more ASAP.
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