Workflow optimisation is the improvement of an existing workflow through the reduction of operating costs, improvements in work efficiency, the addition of new functions to an existing workflow, reductions in the time taken to complete the task at hand, and other factors to ensure the workflow performs as efficiently as possible.
Automation by itself is no solution. Just automating tasks does not necessarily make your workflows any more efficient, as the quality and usability of the results are of paramount importance. You could just end up with the same bad results, just now being spit out by a machine.
If you have processes that still aren’t running like you want them to, even after automation, don’t worry. There are some easy workflow optimisation techniques you can use to bring back the benefits you were hoping for. Every now and then, we find ourselves quoting Bill Gates on workflow automation. He said:
“…automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency… (and) automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
You can’t tack on some automation solution, and expect things to automatically get better, smoother, faster, and cheaper. Here are some workflow optimisation techniques to help you streamline your business process.
Workflow Optimization Techniques
1. Link Your Form to Master Data
One process many companies love to make super-efficient is the purchase requisition. It seems pretty cut and dry – a team leader needs to make an order from an approved vendor, so they fill out a form and get approval.
But it often gets complicated when the procurement team has to manually key in all the requisition data such as laptop names, quantity, name of the requesting department, etc. to their purchase order system.
In addition to the chance for manual errors, if the team lead doesn’t know how much of their monthly or quarterly budget is already exhausted, they might make requests that exceed the budget. Similarly, how can the manager approve the request if they don’t know the current available budget?
The best workflow optimisation technique in this situation is to link the form to a master data source. For example, an automated form that only lets users select from approved vendors, and then automatically populates other fields based on requests. This can cut down on errors and ensure things flow smoothly.
2. Create Conditional Steps and Branches
This workflow optimization technique is useful when you have an existing process that works well, but has some exceptions that can cause issues such as getting the VP’s sign off on a new marketing campaign. It’s definitely required, but less important when you are trying to promote some new blog posts.
Rather than spending time designing new processes for every situation, you can create a conditional task. This workflow technique involves tagging a particular task to only happen in a certain situation, such as the total cost of the campaign meeting a specified value.
You can also create separate branches of a workflow based on a condition. The creative process for a blog post and landing page might start and end the same way, but have unique steps in the middle. Housing them both under the same workflow by creating two parallel paths is a great way to get workflow optimisation.
3. Integrate Workflows With Other Software
Using a workflow software can be a great way to achieve workflow optimisation. But a lot of your work happens in other software such as financial, HR, admin, and more.
One of the best ways to optimise your workflow is to integrate the workflow so that data can pass from inside the software to another other cloud-based app. For example, you can integrate your purchase order with a financial software like QuickBooks, automatically generating an invoice once the purchase is fulfilled.
4. Dovetail Workflows Together
One common problem when thinking about a workflow is a balloon in size. Where does the sales cycle begin and end? In theory, you could link it back to lead generation from marketing and continue it all the way through onboarding and support.
Though tempting in a “grand works” sort of way, creating a huge workflow like this invites more problems than it solves. Instead, consider creating separate workflows such as sales quotations, sales orders, and customer onboarding. Each workflow can be separate, but you can create triggers so that as soon as one of them ends, another begins.
5. Switch Approvals to Notifications
Too many approvals or too few? The key is to balance control and flow. Senior leaders must be in the loop, but can also be a chokepoint for your process.
Solution? Just tweak their approval steps, and configure the workflow to send them email notifications for important steps of the process. They can jump in when available and give insight for important points.
Figuring out what’s slowing down your processes and applying the right kind of workflow optimisation technique is crucial to your operations, even if it is mostly automated.
Applying techniques like the ones mentioned above is important, as it lets you constantly adapt to new process requirements and their payload when your operations scale up. Be open to embracing new workflow optimisation techniques to your processes, even if they are already automated and look efficient.
Ready to get started with KanyaTech and start improving your efficiency? Contact our team today, and tell us how we can help speed up your internal processes without sacrificing efficiency.