Workflow is simply how your team gets their work done. In an office environment, this can be order processing, accounting, HR tasks, and a hundred other tasks.
Workflow processes usually grow organically over time without much thought to strategy. Here is a scary fact; Your office workflow is usually designed by the workers completing the task! As a firm grows beyond just a few employees, workflow inefficiencies can be costly to a business owner, a nightmare for administrators, and frustrating to workers.
I hear it everyday; “That’s just the way we have always done it.” I have good news; It does NOT have to be this way. Let’s take the first step to make it better! The first step in addressing workflow inefficiencies is to recognize them. Below are three indicators that you may have inefficient workflows in your office.
Big stacks of paper
When you walk around your office, do you see big stacks of paper on your workers’ desks? What is all that stuff? That stuff is wasted productivity. Think about an invoice in an accounting department. How many steps does that invoice go through until it is paid? How long does that take? A lot of vendors offer early payment discounts for firms that remit payments before the due date. Is there opportunity to shorten that invoice process and take advantage of those discounts?
Does your team complain about repetitive tasks? Do you observe any team members doing the same manual function over and over? Some tasks are unavoidable and just have to be done, however, there are many tasks that can be automated. There are hundreds of options from small technology integrations to more complicated document management systems that can automate these manual tasks and cost much less than the typical employee. These integrations can make your team happier by eliminating the work they feel is “mindless” and also shorten the time is takes to complete tasks. The best part is they pay for themselves in improved productivity!
Lots and lots of file cabinets
Do you have a lot of file cabinets in your office? The number of file cabinets is perhaps the biggest indicator of an inefficient workflow. Why do you have those file cabinets? Presumably it is because you need access to the information that is in those cabinets. How long does it take a worker to locate a document inside those cabinets? Two minutes? Five minutes? The average office worker spends 30 to 40 percent of their time searching for documents to complete their daily work. Imagine being able to locate any document in your organization in seconds. What would you do with 40% more worker hours?
Workflow improvements create a win-win for your team, your leadership, and for you! Few investments in business provide such a clear value.
Observe your office teams today and look for these signs!
- Big Stacks of Paper
- Repetitive Tasks
- Lots of File Cabinets