Workflow Management: Optimizing Your Workflows

A workflow determines how successful a project will be. When you direct a team’s vision towards a common business goal and streamline its processes, you automatically reduce the chances of derailing the success of a project. But, is there anything you could do to contribute towards a sure shot success of a project? Absolutely! Through workflow optimization.

Every project is unique, meaning that it calls for a distinct workflow, one which has been optimised for a specific project. This might involve automating the recurrent tasks, delegating tasks according to different capabilities, and adopting robust workflow management software.

Strategies For Workflow Management

Even when working with two similar projects, you’ll still need to have a uniquely designed and optimised workflow for each.

But why so? As popularly acclaimed, no two individuals have the same realities, meaning no two projects have the same workflow demands. Therefore, they require a solution to be implemented for their distinct needs. So, how can you create a workflow which is perfectly optimised to deliver a successful project?

This article will explore the strategies for workflow management optimising your workflows. But before that, let’s take a look at workflow optimization.

What’s Workflow Optimization

It refers to analysing an organisation’s processes and taking up some measures to make them even more efficient. Workflow improvement involves an assessment of KPIs, first-hand reviews and feedback from your colleagues, and tools. The primary objectives of workflow optimization are quite clear.

  • Documenting your processes and getting the most out of a company’s systems and processes.
  • Increasing the speed or rate at which the projects are completed.
  • Reducing friction between peers, especially in communication.

The problem is that most organisations mostly pick one or two of the goals above instead of enjoying all of them. A company should not sacrifice the quality of its work for speed or even risk employee burnout because of poor organisation or inefficient processes. However, this happens too often.

Through careful workflow analysis, you can determine how to arrive at a balance that improves the operations of your business.

Strategies For Workflow Management

Eliminate the bottlenecks resulting from approvals

Ideally, no one should be involved in the waiting game with moving the project forward. However, bottlenecks don’t just affect one person. Whenever the approvals are backed up, they cause a ripple effect that forces productive employees to begin putting tasks on hold as they wait for an answer. However, ending the approval bottlenecks is easier than you’d think. To begin with.

  • Reduce the steps required to have something approved in your company. This could mean you involve fewer decision-makers or reduce the review states for a given project.
  • Ensure you make conscious efforts to regularly check for approvals and items in need of your attention instead of reacting to their needs in real-time.
  • Consolidate the project collaboration and communication tools in your team. For instance, an approval step may be lost within the email chain. Such tools as Teamwork help in tracking your notifications and messages in a single system.

A Kanban board having a public office offers a much-needed sense of accountability and transparency. This keeps the projects moving. Public approvals eliminate questions like what’s next or who’s this for in your team.

Define The Decision Makers Clearly, And Minimise The Redundant Roles

Piggybacking on the above point, you should realise that teams in a company can also contribute to their chaos by having too many cooks in the kitchen of decision-making. For instance, what should a manager pass? Are there instances in which multiple individuals in similar roles can stamp a project for it to proceed?

Additionally, what can be considered an approval or a decision varies across projects and businesses. There is a massive difference between a thumbs-up within your team chat versus an in-depth review which requires feedback and notes. It is vital to distinguish between the above for timeliness’s sake. Finding a balance might need the managers and higher-ups to make some compromises.

However, there may be opportunities for empowering the junior employees to approve the process and ensure things keep things in motion. Either way, defining the decision-makers is vital to workflow optimization, and a tool like Teamwork can spell out the person responsible for any part of the project.

Automate your Workflows

Nowadays, everything is undergoing automation, and your workflows shouldn’t be left behind. However, you shouldn’t be pressured to automate every process of linking all the workflows. That said, there are a lot of actionable, simple opportunities for automation that work in tandem with workflow optimization that includes.

  • Aligning and linking the internal applications of your company for a seamless transfer of files, access to shared drives, and a lot more on a centralised communication application.
  • By sticking to one source of truth whenever tracking resources, objectives, and inventory. This minimises back and forth while also ensuring that your team is dealing with the “correct information always.
  • Align updates and notifications for the above.

Visualise your Workflows

Before putting the workflows into practice, ensure you visualise them. This makes mapping out the essential steps and uncovering the opportunities for linking the workflows together easier. You can use third-party applications like Lucidchart in crafting and mapping out customer workflows.

Beyond the actual mapping, you should consider how a dedicated workflow management tool can make your workflows more visual. For instance, using the Teamwork’s table view, workers get a colour-coded, clear view, helping them understand the project’s progress, status, and priority. This is a perfect place for documenting your workflows without a lot of manual logging.

Reevaluate your Workflows regularly and Identify potential Disruptions

As a part of workflow analysis, watch out for issues that may potentially disrupt your processes. These include.

  • Changes to applications and tools that are vital to a company’s workflows. This may be updated to the current application of a new tool proposed by management.
  • Sudden personnel changes include reduced budgets for a tool used by your team or new roles.
  • Workers not documenting or sticking to their processes according to your workflow. This might be a problem o a personal level or a more prominent issue like poor onboarding.

Predicting the points above means you have a pulse on the people and decisions related to your company’s workflows. However, it is also about regularly reevaluating your workflows to ensure that disruptions don’t occur again. From first-hand conversions with your peers to KPIs, you can be able to determine whether your efforts are bearing fruits.

Final Thought

Less stress, better ideas, and getting more done are what a workflow optimization process helps you achieve. Through workflow optimization, you can accomplish a lot and overcome many bottlenecks. Fortunately, there are many strategies and tools to approach this, as outlined above.

These tools help you achieve seamless communication regardless of how complicated or straightforward the process is.

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About the author

Vidya Menon

Vidya is an online content developer for Justwebworld. She has a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in Current Linguistics. She is a passionate reader, writer and researcher with a background in academic writing.