The concept behind process improvement is creating fluidity in your daily routine. This happens by establishing a consistent and predictable flow of work that is easily directed. A sequence of processes through which a task passes from planning to completion is known as a “workflow” and managing the progression can be demanding.
Once you have processes in place, it’s simple to make mistakes if you’re not careful. Although these checks and balances are created for efficiency, implementing a successful system takes proper workflow management. The following are four common workflow mistakes and how to avoid them:
#1) Plan Your Plan
Don’t guess goals. You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint so the best way to approach workflow management is to plot it out first. Strategizing the steps for accomplishing each task ahead of time will help to eliminate wastefulness. One of the best ways to do this is through a visual model. Drawing a workflow diagram will identify processes and set a clear start and end point for each task. Listing out the steps for the workflow will not only help manage it fluidly, but it can also assist in identifying any workflow mistakes or obstacles that stand in the way of the project’s success.
#2) Stay on Track
If you have taken the time to specify the best practices for a detailed project, then workflow management involves making sure everyone and everything is on track. New ways of doing things can change staff behavior. It may take some reminding to ensure people are adhering to the guidelines to get the job done in the appropriate timeframe. Allocating time for training programs is one way to ease a workflow process into the daily lives of employees.
#3) Meaningful Reminders
Notifications are an excellent tool for helping team members complete a process, but they should be at the right time and they must be meaningful. Too many reminders about due dates, project updates, pipeline data, etc. will eventually have the adverse effect of not “notifying” anyone. That’s because when smart devices are flooded with reminders, people tend to start ignoring them. The same can be said for messages that have little to no useful or updated information for the employee. Save the reminders for when you want people to actually pay attention to positions in the workflow.
#4) Don’t Overthink It
Not everything needs a workflow. It is possible that this level of planning is too labor intensive for simple projects. If a task is small or only requires a few simple steps, workflow can actually slow down productivity. Don’t waste time creating processes just to create them. If the job can be easily accomplished on-the-fly, it is cheaper to do so immediately than to waste time creating a flow of temporary work. Unlike other daily operations, mistakes in workflow can be detrimental to the entire process. That’s because the more time spent on correcting mistakes, the less purpose the flow of work serves. The intent of establishing workflow is to save time and money. It is no longer efficient once one of these is at risk.
The best way to avoid the most common workflow mistakes is to plan ahead and create a strategy. Determine the proper training programs and ensure everyone is continuously following the process. Notify and remind people only at crucial stages with important information and don’t plan for workflow at all if it is too labor intensive. Once you’ve identified the pitfalls and what to avoid, it’s smooth sailing on your workflow from here on out.