Workflow design best practices

Whether a business makes loans or manufactures water skis, streamlining workflow can increase profits and reduce frustration. No matter the product, the process of making it involves a series of steps. When the same old way of doing things does not work anymore, it is time to examine the workflow. Best practices in workflow provide a way to look at the steps and to make changes that improve the process.

Blaming the Process, Not the Worker

Workers often get the blame for low productivity when it is actually a broken process that is at fault. An honest examination of the workflow process can reveal causes that deter progress. The way that the process is set up can create bottlenecks. Inefficient and needlessly repetitive motion wastes time, and workers often understand what is wrong. Harvesting their ideas is a best practice in developing a productive workflow.

Reaping the Benefits

As a result of refreshing the workplace with a smarter plan for workflow, tangible benefits occur. Business owners identify and eliminate practices that waste time and money, producing previously unknown opportunities for savings. Employees experience a higher level of job satisfaction and better morale. The quality of work maintains a more consistent level, and new workers learn the ropes faster.

Finding the Way to Change

Changing old and outdated ways is not as difficult as it may seem. It does, however, require guidance from a knowledgeable source, and computer software offers workflow diagrams that can adapt to small or medium size businesses.

Assessing Current Workflow Processes

Each work process has a series of steps with one that comes before and one that comes after. Breaking each work activity into as many steps as possible makes it easier to diagram it and to find problem areas. Managers are not likely to know the details of every workstation, making it essential to involve workers early in the redesign of workflow. Encouraging opinions regarding the effectiveness of practices can produce valuable observations.

Analyzing the Results

Input from employees produces a trove of information that can identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks. Analyzing it offers ways to accelerate processes in some cases or to eliminate them in others. Exposing every aspect of the current workflow process to criticism and evaluation by the people who do the work can reveal practices that are not worth doing. Improving business productivity can affect employee performance as well as customer satisfaction.

Adapting to a New Workflow

A review of current workflow processes is most successful when it involves input from employees at all levels. Questioning the need for a specific practice contributes different perspectives. Understanding the way that things are currently done can lead to finding better alternatives. After completing the assessment of current workflow processes, documenting the new process is a best practice. Communicating the concepts of a new plan and providing training helps provide acceptance of an improved workflow process. Simple system tools can help small and medium sized companies manage business processes.

Workflow analysis as a component of process improvement is a critical aspect of business that can save money every year while improving employee satisfaction. Eliminating non-essential steps in the workflow process increases the ability of businesses to provide superior products and services. Preventing expensive performance mistakes and decreasing training expenses can motivate small and medium size businesses to examine and redesign workflow processes.