Have you ever faced that frustrating wait for a task that’s moving from one department to another and doesn’t seem to be getting close to completion? Somewhere, it encounters a bottleneck and winds up being relegated to the back of a long line of other jobs.
An inefficient workflow has an adverse effect on worker productivity and, ultimately, it can ruin your business if it prevents you from delivering goods or services on time. While things go wrong and your workflow suffers, this should be the exception rather than the norm.
What can you do to improve your company’s workflow?
Study the situation as it stands
You need to be able to take a step back and examine the processes that take place in your company. As part of this exercise, design a workflow diagram, put in realistic timeframes for tasks, and compare them with the actual times. Factor in contextual anomalies that may have arisen during your study, such as an unavoidably late delivery of supplies.
Your examination of the company’s workflow will give you a good indication of where there is room for improvement. Drill down into these issues to find out what the source of the problem is, and what realistic options there are for putting better systems in place.
Take an integrated approach
In big organizations, business analysts study workflow and recommend ways to integrate information flow systems to make the company more productive. Your business might not be big enough to need the services of a business analyst, but it can benefit from some of the principles of business analysis.
You might need to have some custom software development done to suit the needs of your business. What works for other companies might not work for yours, so don’t think that a one-size-fits-all approach will best serve your needs.
Allowing different departments to work in silos is one of the most significant productivity killers an organization can face. The information must move freely between the departments and people who need it.
Communication is key
How are your employees communicating with each other? This is one of the key questions you need to answer in your evaluation of your company’s workflow. Here is another example of how the silo approach can be ruining your business.
Spending hours sitting in meetings discussing projects and deadlines is no longer necessary given how many collaboration tools there are that you can use.
You can share tasks, delegate responsibilities, set deadlines, and manage task completion online. What your staff meetings should be about is making sure that everyone understands their role and why it is essential for the completion of any task.
Redefining job descriptions
During your overall evaluation of the company’s workflow, you might see that some employees are slowing processes down. Don’t assume that it’s their fault and go in heavy-handed when you approach them.
Look at the person’s workload and assess whether it is too much for one person to handle. Determine whether the person is struggling to finish tasks because they aren’t capacitated on how to do so. In that case, you’ll need to implement a training program to help.
You might find that you need to do a staff reshuffle to evenly distribute tasks among employees. This should always be done in sensitively as people do not take well to criticism, and they don’t always like change.
Look at the current job descriptions of your employees and look at how they can be altered to improve the workflow. If necessary, you’ll need to start looking for new employees to ease the workload on the others.