There are two main ways to make a business better: grow the company to generate more revenue, and make the business process workflow more efficient to be more profitable.
The latter is often a more significant challenge for many businesses. All businesses strive to be more efficient, but how can we do that.
Thinking about optimizing your business process workflow but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place. Here, we will discuss the actionable tips you can use to optimize your business process workflow to improve your business’s productivity and efficiency.
However, before we jump further to these tips, let us discuss the concept of business process workflow itself.
What Actually Is Business Process Workflow?
The terms “business process” and “workflow” get used interchangeably when it comes to discussing business efficiency, and generally, they are referring to the same thing:
A business process workflow is a collection of actions or tasks that are organized and repeatable. These actions might involve transforming raw materials to actual products, generating information, or providing services, and when completed, will achieve (successfully or unsuccessfully) a business objective.
All businesses have at least one business process workflow. Suppose your business is a phone repair shop, for example. In that case, the whole process of repairing a client’s iPhone until it’s successfully fixed is a single business process workflow.
To optimize a business process workflow, typically, we must perform:
- Workflow mapping: visualizing the workflow into a workflow diagram to provide us with a more precise overview of the whole business process
- Workflow analysis: analyzing the workflow diagram to identify bottlenecks, redundancies, and inefficiencies. With this information, we can develop an optimization plan.
- Optimization: optimizing the business process workflow based on the improvement plan generated by the workflow analysis.
Tips To Effectively Optimize Business Process Workflow
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach you can use to optimize your business process workflow efficiency, here are some of the most effective tips you can try:
List all your process workflows
As discussed, all businesses have at least one workflow, but for most, more than one.
Before you attempt any optimization and analysis, it’s best to identify and list all the workflows you have in your business.
Involve your team members and stakeholders in this process. Interview them to identify workflows they are involved in and the details about the workflow.
Once you’ve got a list of the business process workflows, you should prioritize which workflows you’d like to optimize first. While ideally, we should optimize all workflows, we should prioritize which are more crucial for optimizations first, and generally, you can pick:
- Your most crucial workflow that when optimized, will provide the most contribution in achieving your goals
- Workflows with apparent inefficiencies and flaws so you can fix the problem and plug the leakage.
- Workflows that would significantly affect customer satisfaction. For example, if you are a restaurant, you can optimize workflows to lower food serving time.
Gather as much data as you can
You should collect as much information as you can about the process workflow. Interview team members and stakeholders that are directly involved in the workflow and identify:
- The start point and endpoint of the workflow
- All the steps and tasks that construct the process workflow
- Who’s responsible for which task
- The exact sequence the tasks must be completed (for sequential workflows)
- Timeline for each task and the whole workflow
Also, gather performance data of the workflow, both quantitative and qualitative.
For example, if it’s a workflow for a restaurant cooking its signature dish, the quantitative performance data can be:
- Total number of dishes over a period of time
- The average time needed to finish the dish
- Number of dishes rejected by customers
- Number of dishes that customers applauded
On the other hand, you should also interview team members and stakeholders to gather qualitative performance data like whether the process is already easy enough for the chefs, whether it’s easy enough for servers to explain the dish to customers, etc.
Use the right workflow software to map your workflow
Various software solutions can help you in optimizing your business process workflow.can help you quickly build your workflow diagram with its workflow builder tool.
A workflow management software can help you:
- Plan, track, and manage all workflows down to the most granular level
- Accurately map your chosen process workflow workflows so you can get a bird’s-eye view of the workflow and how effective it is in achieving its objective.
- Manage your business’s resources when executing workflows to ensure resource usage is in line with your business’s goals
- Manage different business process workflows and projects in a single, centralized dashboard
- Provide a centralized space for your team members, stakeholders, and even external collaborators to communicate and collaborate in executing the workflows
Identify bottlenecks objectively
Considering all the data you’ve gathered above, identify bottlenecks and redundancies while considering:
- Who is involved in the workflow, and whom is it supposed to serve
- The objectives of the process workflow
- The criteria for success for this specific process workflow
- What is the purpose of optimization? Speeding up the process? Minimizing errors? Or others
- Is there any step that is unnecessary/can be eliminated or replaced by a more valuable task
- Can we automate steps or tasks
- Can we eliminate the approval process into a simple notification instead?
Optimizing your business process workflow can improve your business’s efficiency in using your resources. It’s crucial to maintain good documentation when mapping, analyzing and optimizing your business workflows, especially if your business often struggles with a high turnover rate. In such cases, good documentation will help you in onboarding new employees.
A business process workflow management solution like Aproove is a holistic solution to help you optimize your workflows from start to finish: mapping, facilitating collaboration, analysis, and implementing optimizations.