You know what works best for your customers, your stakeholders, your staff and your profits. It's why you set expectations. And it's why you set processes.
As humans, we like to stretch and adjust processes to fit our own individual profiles, to suit us and place ourselves inside our comfort zones.
But while this is effective for one individual, it isn't effective for our team, for our customers, and often isn't effective for the business we work for.
It's vital as business owners, managers and key communicators, we offer up concrete, pre-defined workflows, and it's even better to automate these workflows, taking the human desire for individuality out of the equation altogether. Humans adapt easily, and will adapt to new workflows.
Workflows should be set in the firm knowledge the flow is the best possible solution to take each task from point A to point B with the least amount of resistance along the way, therefore benefiting customers, stakeholders, staff, and indeed, your business.
It's important then that we quickly identify signs that workflow automation is required, to ensure we eradicate the bad practices that are born from nondescript processes that any one individual may naturally develop for themselves.
Our 5 signs to take note of are below.
1. Your Staff Mistakenly Forget Steps Throughout Your Manual Workflow
You go to all that effort to develop your workflow. It's seven steps long and produces a perfect result. Everything is tracked. Everything is communicated effectively. The job goes from A to B with no problems.
Until, that is, a staff member feeling ill or tired or too busy to focus forgets to complete step number four, and suddenly it's lost in the depths of your network, stuck in a place your workflow didn't account for. Or, worse still, your assigned manager spots the lost item and has to now manually force it through the workflow, three days (or weeks!) late.
2. Your Staff and Customers Communicate Erratically
Today your staff receive an email asking them to complete a job. Tomorrow, your staff phone the customer. The next day, the customer submits a support ticket to your desk with an answer to questions from your staff. Your staff then email the customer, and your customer phones to add a little scope creep to the task.
The communication process is erratic. If you asked your staff for an update, they would have to crawl through three different systems for a clear communication log, a clear list of tasks required, and a clear status update. Without automated workflow software, you leave your company vulnerable and lacking in clear communication.
3. You Struggle to Enforce Accountability
While no good chief executive or manager should be out for a witch hunt, it is absolutely critical to know who was accountable at each stage of a task. Without knowing this, it's difficult to troubleshoot problems should they arise. It's difficult to approach the correct parties, those that were closest to the job as it progressed, and very difficult to understand the valid reasons for the subtle anomalies that each job will naturally produce.
With automated workflow software, it's easy to track who was in charge at each stage of the process. It's simple to view their notes, and to easily make contact with the correct person should an issue arise.
4. You Have No Idea of the Status of Your Tasks
How often do staff stutter and struggle to provide clear status reports for every job they own? Sure, they might be able to deliver an update on their top three priorities. But what about the other 30 jobs they own that need prioritizing against the 30 other jobs each of your ten staff members own? It's difficult, and without automated workflow software, I wouldn't expect my staff to be able to tell me straight away. I'd expect them to gather the data over the course of a morning and deliver it to me.
With workflow automation, seeing the status of all jobs and setting priorities is simple.
5. Your Processes Don't Improve, and Your Work Load and Work Flow Flat Line
Without workflow automation, how easy do you find it to analyze the effectiveness of your processes? How do you test and optimize your processes in order to increase work load whilst maintaining quality? How do you understand the needs of your staff to allow them to better serve your business?
With workflow automation, reports, charts, and graphs are at your disposal to help you identify process blockers, to help you detect where your work flow stalls and to help you better understand the needs of your staff and customers.
Convinced and ready to get started?
Take a look at BizzMine and learn how you can get your first workflow process up and running in just a couple of hours.