Sometimes when we focus so much of our energy on workplace efficiency, we end up making the problem worse. I once worked at a marketing company that changed its workflow structure so often, half the job was remembering which processes we were currently following. It made work scattered and impacted the confidence of everyone in the office.
Essentially, the workflow changes had the reverse effect than what was intended. Keeping your office’s workflow lean is important, but it must also make sense and be easy to implement. That seems like a tall order, but we’ve rounded up eight tech-oriented tips to ensure your workflow in 2017 is clear, consistent and efficient.
- Visualize Your Workflow
Using a workflow visualization software tool can help you see your workflow from varying angles. It helps keep your project on track from start to finish. It’s also ideal for when you’ve found space to run two projects simultaneously, after an initial plan to configure them concurrently.
Visualization allows us to see problems in a more tangible way. The benefit of using software over a physical chart is that you can seamlessly manipulate variables, share findings with a larger audience and travel with your analysis.
- Check in With Each Department
The C-suite, a company’s most important executives, often play an integral role in creating workflow. As a result, you should strive to work with the leaders of each department to see areas of improvement. Each department is the expert in that segment, and they are most equipped to alerting you to problems or solutions. Even checking in via email or chat message will suffice in many cases. Workflow notification software can help remind of this.
A lean workflow cuts down on lead times for manufacturing and minimizes labor costs, which cuts the cost and time for both your customers and your staff. It also helps avoid the problem of re-work, since all departments know what the others are doing. Checking in with and become acquainted with all departments can help guide toward a lean workflow that saves a substantial amount of money.
- Choose Function Over Style
Choose software that aligns with your company’s needs. Don’t go for the most expensive package for your workflow software – simplicity is often key. However, if you are in a specialized field with specific needs, you may want to invest in software tailored to your business.
Software companies will tell you their product is integral to creating a leaner workflow, though some smaller businesses may not need a very expansive package. For any software, verify there aren’t cheap competitors with similar features, and look into a trial option where you and co-workers can try it out for a period before payment.
- Consider Spreadsheet Alternatives
Spreadsheets are something everyone is familiar with, though they can present issues when digging through substantial amounts of data. Plus, manual entry is very time-consuming, to the point of being costly. Workflow software like TrackVia allows custom workflows, notifications and automatic spreadsheet updating, making manually updating spreadsheets to account for inventory or other data a thing of the past.
- Look for Apps Compatible With Familiar Software
Improving your workflow doesn’t always mean changing every software imaginable. In many cases, certain software has a mobile companion app that works collaboratively with the desktop app, to ensure easy collaboration and work-anywhere capabilities. That’s the case with Google Drive, which has both desktop functionality and a mobile app. See if your favorite apps or software has something similar.
- Make Meetings and Functions More Efficient
For the imminent company meetings, you can save ample time by using certain tools for planning. AllSeated can help organize seating, while a variety of flyer creator tools can help promote your meeting with premade templates. There are an abundance of event-related workflow tools that can reduce the time spent on planning.
- Analyze the Most Delayed Projects
If you remember any particular projects from 2016 that suffered delays, it’s prudent to look back to see exactly what went wrong. Was there an interruption somewhere in the workflow? Without workflow software, it may be difficult to find. With the right software, reverse engineering of these issues can help alleviate problems in the future.
- Continue the Efficiency Outside of Work
An organized home life can aid in a similarly organized work life, with scientists finding that physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to focus. As a result, it’s important to use some of the same tips for workflow for at home, in regard to daily tasks and chores. Getting in the habit of having a lean workflow at work and home will have familiarity with certain tools and habits become like second nature.
With these eight tips, a leaner workflow in 2017 will help you accomplish your goals more efficiently than ever.