Workflow (or business process management) has become a bit of a buzzword in the business community and, while most business owners can intellectually understand why workflow is important, it’s hard to truly wrap your brain around it until you have actually seen it in action.
Workflows can help streamline and automate repeatable business tasks, minimising room for error and increasing overall efficiency. This, in turn, dramatically improves your business. Managers can make quicker, smarter decisions and employees are empowered to collaborate in a more productive and agile way.
However, developing a workflow in your business is no small feat. It can often be incredibly challenging, as it requires that you can see the big picture while simultaneously paying attention to the hundreds of small details that go into it. Other than the structure and order workflows create in your business, here are the top seven benefits:
1. More insight into business processes
One of the biggest reasons why workflow is important is that it gives you greater insight into your processes. From then on, you can use the said insights to better your workflows and improve the bottom-line of your business.
Mapping out your processes in a workflow allows you to get a more clear, top-level view of your business. Even if you have a well-established set of business processes, do you really know if they are delivering you results? Are the processes as good as they could be?
2. Identifying redundancies
In many businesses, there are many, likely unnecessary and redundant tasks that take place daily. Once you have more insight into your processes, you can determine what activities are truly necessary.
Identifying and eliminating redundant tasks has, of course, countless benefits – it creates tremendous value for your business. Instead of wasting time on a potentially useless task, your employees will be able to focus on what is important and what it contributes to the business.
As such, the more useless processes are eliminated, the better your business will perform.
3. Increasing accountability
In the South African context, with the Zondo Commission making headlines every day, accountability in the workplace, or lack thereof, is very much in the public domain.
Deploying a workflow solution where managers must approve decisions in a structured and traceable environment places the accountability and responsibility for business decisions squarely on those managers tasked with making the decisions.
4. Reducing micromanagement
Micromanagement can cause a lot of problems in a business setting: employees hate being micromanaged and (most) managers hate having to do it. Studies have shown that micromanagement is often cited as the biggest reason for quitting a job.
By clearly mapping out your workflow, everyone knows what tasks must be completed, who will be completing them, and when they need to be completed.
When the workflow process is clearly laid out in this way, managers can spend less time micromanaging their employees.
Everyone in the team sees exactly what is going on, and what needs to be done. There is no question what the next steps are, or if there is something wrong with “step 4”.
This will, in turn, increase job satisfaction for everyone involved and will most likely improve the relationships between management and employees.
5. Improving communication
Have you ever felt like your workplace is like a game of broken telephone? Everyone is talking but somewhere along the way, the message becomes muddled. Poor communication is a common workplace problem that is often not dealt with.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, communication in the workplace is critical because it affects every other aspect of the company. There are cases where the main conflict in the organisation is from miscommunication – employees and management supposedly “disagreeing”, even if both are after the same goals.
Visibility of processes and accountability can increase workplace communication dramatically, which will in turn reduce employee turnover and make day-to-day operations smoother overall.
6. Improving customer service
Without your customers, there is no business to run. So, it is important to constantly find ways to improve the customer experience. Unfortunately, customer requests or complaints can be easily overlooked when you are relying on outdated manual systems.
This results in dissatisfied customers who will end up taking their business elsewhere. Workflow can, however, help you provide better customer service and respond to customer complaints more quickly and effectively.
7. Improving the quality of your products or services
Often, employees are chosen for projects based on who is available rather than who has the best skillsets to perform that job. This is another reason why workflow is so important. It allows you to think about and choose the individuals who are best suited to perform particular tasks.
By automating workflows and processes, you can also reduce the likelihood of human error. Over time, this will improve the quality of your products or services.
As a business owner, it is imperative to develop strategies for how you can help your business grow and stand out in a competitive marketplace, even more so in a post-COVID business landscape.
Workflow automation is just that – a strategy to help you improve the efficiency, overall revenue and the day-to-day operations of your business.