Workflows are an important asset to any organization looking to get more done with less. They systemize the work that’s done from day-to-day so you can spend less time manually managing how work progresses while focusing more on giving your best to individual tasks.
But, no matter how intricately a workflow is designed, several issues may arise that result in lowered productivity. These issues may be in the form of distractions, lack of information, unclear guidelines, or an unorganized team structure.
In that light, your workflows must be designed to get results in the shortest possible steps. This can only be achieved by:
cutting out distractions and tasks that don’t contribute to a workflow overall,
simplifying information sharing so decisions can be made faster, and,
continuously analyzing your workflows to determine where they can be improved.
To stay relevant in your industry, hit your organizational goals, and drive revenue upwards, it’s critical to focus on improving how quickly and efficiently your workflows deliver outcomes so you can stay competitive.
This article will guide you to understand why your workflows might be underperforming, and how to keep them on the bleeding edge.
What is Workflow Efficiency?
Simply put, workflow efficiency means the processes you and your team follow to complete a project. You can improve your overall efficiency by optimizing your workflows and ensuring little waste during the process.
Causes of reduced workflow efficiency
Workflows are designed with several moving parts and as a result, a simple change in one part tends to affect the entire structure and hold back your organizational outcomes.
Here are some of those causes of reduced workflow efficiency both within teams and organizations at large.
Irrelevant or unproductive tasks
At some point in your operations, you might realize that internal or external factors have changed how you work, cancelling out the need for certain parts of your workflow.
If these tasks are subsequently not removed, they become bottlenecks in your workflow, using up resources that would have been put to better use, and stagnating work in the bigger picture.
Poor information coordination
Information is the backbone of any functional workflow since it takes insight into where your work is at, and what factors that apply in order to keep driving results in the present and the long-term.
Consequently, if your workflows aren’t designed to intelligently manage information flow, team members will end up spending more time trying to track down the information they need instead of getting their tasks done faster.
Unorganized team management
When members of your team don’t know which part of the workflow they should be working on or don’t have any idea who they should consult should any issues come up, it follows that you’ll have a huge personnel pool that doesn’t get put to good use.
Tips to improve workflow efficiency in your team
No matter how efficiently your workflows currently run, there’ll always be improvements to be made to keep solving emerging problems and meeting changing circumstances. Here are actionable tips you can apply to get your workflows to move faster, better, and more efficiently.
Define your team
Workflow management is a team sport that requires you to keep everyone involved engaged, aligned towards the goal at hand, and united so relevant information can flow freely through your team as a unit and your organization as a whole.
As a result, if you’re aiming to do more with your workflows, you must focus on:
choosing a workflow management solution that makes it easier for team members to stay on the same page,
incorporating your staff management system into your workflow management system. For example, where do team members go when they run into hitches? It’s going to be hard to manage issues if relationships and dependencies aren’t clearly defined.
Uniting your team around one source of truth makes it easier to maintain that flow of information and resources so targets can be met with minimal friction or guesswork.
It’s easier managing your work when you’re connected with your core team vs. having to manually engage relevant staff via email, shoulder taps, etc.
Without an engaged team that’s aligned around the outcomes built into your workflows, you really don’t have a workflow. People make workflows work.
Prioritize documentation and knowledge sharing
No matter how powerful your workflows are, they’ll always fall short if your team has to manually reach out for the files and docs they need to run the stage of the workflow where their input is required.
Side note: The average worker spends 2.5 hours daily searching for documents and files they need to get their work done. Put together, that equals 2.5 months or roughly 30% of total productive time spent fishing around for the knowledge your team needs to do their work.
To get members of your team to spend more time moving towards targets vs. fishing around for relevant docs, you must prioritize documentation.
Some actionable steps you can take towards that end include:
Choose a workflow management tool that syncs with your work/documentation suite, i.e. Google Drive, Dropbox, etc., so you can manage your files, docs, etc., with minimal friction and maximum visibility,
Clearly define what members of your team need to do their best work + how exactly the information you’ve given applies.
Simplifying knowledge management gives your team members fewer hoops to jump through and makes it easier to focus on the task at hand.
Prioritize workflow improvement
Your workflows can only stay cutting edge when it’s a priority for you to consistently analyze them to see what’s working, what’s not, and what to fix for better results. In that light, workflow efficiency demands that you:
Map out your workflows for manual reviewing,
Constantly review your workflows for issues tracking,
Refine your workflows when necessary, and
Keep testing and improving to ensure your workflow can keep meeting your targets.
When refining your workflows is a key objective for you, it’s easier to trim off unnecessary steps and double down on what it takes to do more with less.
Assign specific parts of your workflows to individual team members
In as much as workflow management is a team sport, trying to control everything centrally will result in a situation where projects are micromanaged from the team lead’s limited viewpoint, and consequently limiting how much better the workflow could get with input from other team members.
Assigning parts of a workflow to individual team members keeps them engaged and active, and with everyone’s input, it’s easier to pinpoint flaws that can be fixed to improve your workflow efficiency.
Streamline and automate your workflows
To a significant degree, the efficiency of workflows lies in the people, the processes, and the tech that they’re built on.
While we focus very often on the people and process factors, it can be easy to overlook the tech that makes modern process management work.
But just how much of a place does tech hold in efficient workflow management? As it appears, a lot.
When leveraged smartly, workflow management tools help in no small measure with:
Streamlining workflows so projects can progress faster,
Managing communications so a team can stay connected while moving work from to-do to done,
Designing and automatically running workflows, and
Integrating with other tools where your organization works across.
A BPM tool like Kissflow process makes it easy to run your workflows simpler, faster, and with less resource usage. The outcome?
You consistently hit your targets and keep improving to get better over time.
Try out Kissflow Workflow right here.