For many startups, one of the biggest challenges is to accomplish all of its goals with a limited set of resources. Finding a way to get from one point to the next without running out of resources to get there, or crashing and burning in the process, can be difficult for many new business owners trying to get off the ground.
While there’s no single formula for success that can be applied to every startup out there, optimizing your workflow is a great place to start in order to streamline your business, since it has an effect on pretty much everything.
Why Is Workflow Important?
Undoubtedly, you’ll have seen and heard the word ‘workflow’ being thrown around quite a lot in the business environment.
Maybe you have even used the word a few times yourself when talking about your business. But what exactly is workflow, and how can you optimize it when you are first starting out?
According to one definition, the workflow is an orchestrated, repeatable pattern of business activity, which is enabled by the organization or resources into processes that provide services, transform materials, or process information.
The workflow can be depicted as a sequence of operations, it can be the work of a person or a team, an organization, or one or more mechanisms.
The workflow creates the overall structure and order of your daily operations. With a disjointed workflow, it’s like saying that you have no plan for your business to achieve its short-term and long-term goals. Having an organized workflow allows your business to do the following:
- Provides a clear, top-level insight into your business processes
- Increases the accountability of every employee involved in your business
- Minimizes micromanagement and inspires motivation among employees
- Enhances communication in and out of your company
- Detects redundancies and gaps in your operations
Today, companies use digitization of a variety of functions in order to make modern workflows easier to track.
Software programs and apps have helped to streamline the process and provided bosses with real-time, quick ways to easily measure what’s going on at both the micro and macro levels.
So, if you’re operating as a startup, what’s the benefit for you? Why should you put valuable time and resources into optimizing workflow?
Benefits of Optimizing Your Workflow
Maintain consistency: There’s a lot to be said for consistency when it comes to optimizing your startup workflow.
Optimizing workflow means that you can reduce variance, which in turn, results in greater consistency and better predictability for both input and output.
Identify weaknesses: Optimizing workflow means that you can easily identify weaknesses, along with areas that have some room for improvement. You will become more acutely aware of gaps in your processes and be able to quickly identify any shortfalls or loopholes requiring attention.
Using a Kanban system is an ideal way to go about this. Lean manufacturing processes using Kanban boards or digital systems can be introduced in almost any kind of workplace, from office environments to factory production lines.
Learn more about getting started with Kanban and how to implement it in your company at Kanbanize. They offer a wide range of resources that you can easily apply to your organization.
Minimize mundane tasks: There’s no getting away from boring and manually intensive tasks in any business, but while they may be essential, they’re not always the best way for employees to spend their time.
Workflow optimization helps you find ways to automate these processes, streamlining mundane tasks, and providing you with more time and energy to spend on engaging, fulfilling activities.
However, you should be mindful of which tasks you’ll be automating, as some businesses still make the wrong choices. Simple tasks that take significant time to complete should be first on your list.
For example, you don’t need to manually compute your products or services’ VAT by using an online VAT calculator. This way, you’ll save yourself the time and effort in knowing all the formulas. In terms of administrative tasks, you can use automated tools to back up files, create daily to-do lists, arrange shared calendars, facilitate the job recruitment process, and email signatures.
On the contrary, tasks that require attention to detail and genuine connections shouldn’t be left to automation. Take your customer support and online engagement as examples. While you can add elements of automation to these processes, you should still check them from time to time and have a human employee take care of them.
How to Enhance Workflow
Every startup has some kind of workflow. While it may not be as process-intensive as a larger firm, for example, every business will develop a way of doing things. Investing in optimizing this process will return healthy results over the long term.
Identify challenges: Optimizing your workflow starts with identifying the biggest challenges in your business, from both operational and management perspectives.
Being unaware of the challenges that your startup faces will make it difficult to optimize workflow. Some of the most common workflow challenges include:
- Long invoicing processes
- Incompatible systems
- Poor collaboration between teams
However, even if these common challenges don’t apply to your business, there will inevitably be some that are unique to your company. Taking the time to find them provides you with the foundation that you need to optimize your workflow effectively.
Set goals: Once you have figured out where your challenges lie, it’s time to pay attention to overcoming them and optimizing your workflow as you go.
The best way to get started with this is to set SMART goals – they need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. This isn’t a process that should happen overnight; instead, invest time into coming up with goals for your company to help propel it forwards.
Use workflow software and automated solutions: Using workflow software to streamline processes is an ideal way to get started.
Digital workflow software provides companies with technology that is specifically designed to deploy, monitor, and optimize functionality within a mixed environment. And, automated solutions like invoicing software or project management tools can help you overcome any workflow challenges that you have previously identified in your business.
Optimizing your workflow is key to achieving startup success. Begin by identifying the unique challenges you face and implementing the right systems and tools to overcome them.
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