Every business is built on a foundation of processes. These processes include everything from hiring new employees, to approving ad campaigns, handling unhappy customers, and on and on. Clear, streamlined processes help businesses operate efficiently. Unfortunately, many processes can get bogged down by miscommunications, delays, and inefficiencies, which can costs businesses big money. Bad processes also take a toll on employee morale. Even small businesses need to pay attention to their strategic organization and perform regular organizational audits to improve their processes.
By streamlining the processes that make up your company, you can ensure that each member of your team spends more time performing high-value work instead of dealing with process problems. This greater productivity can seriously bump up your bottom line. The workflow software company, Integrify, estimates that by improving productivity by just 10 percent, a company of 250 people could increase profits by $1.1 million a year. Here are the ten steps to audit your company workflow and develop a more strategic organization.
Step 1 – identify your processes
In many businesses, especially small businesses, processes rise up organically to fill a new or growing need. Sometimes, a process meant as a BAND-AID becomes the de facto process even if it’s not the best option. To start your process audit, make a list of every process performed by your team, your department, or your company. That means everything, from how supplies are purchased to who is included in which meetings. You might be surprised by what you find! (Start with this list of the Top Ten Core Business Processes from Bizmanual.com)
Step 2 – detail every process
Now it’s time to dig in and discover how every process you’ve identified works. Write down the steps of each process. Interview your team members in-depth about their role in each process. This is where you may start to see that even well-meaning processes have gone array.
Step 3 – analyze the process and look for opportunities to improve
You should now have a complete picture of how every process in your company (or in your department) works. Start analyzing each process and look for areas where you can improve. In particular, search for silos, bottlenecks, and redundancies. Some problems will jump out at you right away. Maybe three people need to sign off on every expense report when it should only be one person. Maybe your team is waiting several days to respond to customer complaints instead of responding within 24 hours. Look closely, and you’ll likely find many opportunities for improvement.
Step 4 – ask your employees for feedback
No one has better insights into the ins and outs of your processes like the employees who navigate them daily. You’d better believe that these same employees have plenty of ideas on how to improve these processes. Sit with them one-on-one or send out anonymous surveys, and they will happily tell you all about how to improve the workflow of the office.
Step 5 – simplify, simplify, simplify
As you review your work processes, search for opportunities to simplify. Do you really need every department head to review a new communique, or must getting a new keyboard require a ten-page requisition form? Streamlining is all about developing lean processes without excess rules. The more time you free up for your team, the more they can focus on their higher-level tasks.
Step 6 – clarify roles and oversight
Many processes can feel laborious simply because no one is sure who should be participating. Does your warehouse technician need approval before sending out every order or can he make these decisions on his own? Does your entire team need to be cc’d on every email with the big client? Carefully analyze the roles your team members play in each process and take away any unnecessary or excess responsibilities.
Step 7 – integrate processes
It isn’t uncommon for a business to adopt a range of varied processes that overlap, especially in siloed divisions. Over time, this could lead to workers juggling multiple systems or even having to port data from one program to another. Take a look at how your processes operate and search for ways to integrate them. For example, it might be time to integrate your emailing system into the fancy CRM program your company pays big money for.
Step 8 – automate what you can
Many processes can be automated with sophisticated software programs, including great workflow programs like Slack, Asana, Zapier, ProofHub, and many others. These programs make it easy for you to automate day-to-day work while also giving a bird’s eye view of how projects are moving toward completion.
Step 9 – implement your new workflow
You may wish to initially test your new workflow with a small team or a single division to smooth out hurdles. When the time comes to roll out the streamlined process to your entire team, make sure you give your employees the support they need. Explain the changes clearly and provide training if necessary. Most importantly, ensure that your management team embraces the new workflow. Change must start at the top, and if managers aren’t on board, the new workflow won’t make it very far.
Step 10 – assess and adjust
Changing the way your teams operate won’t be easy. Some employees may breathe a sigh of relief that they don’t have to attend so many meetings, while others may miss the face time. Take time to assess how the rollout is going and be willing to adjust the new workflow if problems arise. Consider surveying your employees to get feedback on the system. Your team members may notice issues that aren’t visible to managers and offer great solutions to help your new strategic organization succeed.
At Poll Everywhere, we provide the polling software you need to get authentic feedback and powerful data from your team. Our new Enterprise features allow you to create, present, and collaborate consistently. Craft a variety of different surveys and interactive presentations that get you the answers you need to streamline your operations, improve your workflow, and make decisions that drive your business forward.