Improving workflow efficiency is one of the most cost effective, yet overlooked ways for any company to increase revenue and add to the bottom-line. But like all problems in life, improvement first requires recognition. The following are some common symptoms of ineffective workflow.
- Projects are backing up
- Cluttered workstations
- Duplication of efforts
- Missed deadlines
- Complaining clients
- Continual lost files and documents
- Constant frustration in the office
Workflow inefficiency is an insidious problem and is particularly prevalent among companies transitioning away from the early struggles of client acquisition to meeting the challenges of the growing demands on productivity. Granted, growing demand is a good problem. It is indicative of success. But if not careful, a company can collapse under the weight of its own success.
Workflow inefficiency starts slowly, but if left unchecked, becomes systemic. It becomes the acceptable business model for the entire organization. Missed deadlines and lost files become tolerable. All the while, the early and the on-going success of the company is being undermined. It is an expensive problem, potentially trimming as much as 20-30% of the bottom-line.
What is the Vision for your Company?
Improving workflow efficiency is a process, not an event. It does not happen overnight. It requires a singleness of purpose of a unified organization. But what is that single purpose?
To succeed in the endeavor requires a defined vision for the company, communicated to the organization by the company’s visionary (owner). An example could be providing clients, a “white glove” experience.
Every step in the company’s workflow is centered around that vision. Every solution is centered around that vision. Any step in the process that is counterproductive to the vision, is wasted effort. Continually searching for lost files or missing deadlines are examples of wasted effort.
Creating your own Vision
A company’s vision should be simple. Too many words can create confusion. It should inspire and evoke emotion. For example, Disney’s vision statement is simply, “To make people happy.” Everything Disney does is tied to this simple vision.
But most importantly (yet often overlooked), employees need to be involved in the process. The vision must be communicated organization-wide. A vision statement is worthless if employees do not buy into the vision or worse, they do not even know the vision for the company.
With a clearly defined vision statement
- Firstly, identify each client’s objective. Understand the value they’re seeking from your company.
- Next, identify the steps necessary in meeting your client’s objective.
- Then, design a logical workflow system, which eliminates wasteful steps in the process.
- Following this, define and communicate the role each person will play within the workflow.
- Finally, continue to evaluate and refine your workflow process, to make it as efficient as possible.