By Jeremy Koellish, COO
Today I’m going to talk workflows. Did the mere mention of the word ‘workflow’ just then make you nervous? Trust me, you’re not alone. That said, this article is going to address the most common barriers to developing workflows, reasons why you ought to move past those barriers and tricks to getting started.
I don’t speak ‘Workflow’.
Whether you are a small business owner or the one your boss tasked with developing a workflow, almost everyone feels like his or her skill set isn’t up for the challenge. But this couldn’t be further from the truth! When it comes to getting started, it’s like your mama always says, “Ain’t nothin’ to it, but to do it!” Let go of perfection as a pretense to success, and just start sketching it out. You’ll be amazed at how after a few revisions and a pile of eraser shavings your workflow will start to take shape.
The answer to your question is “Yes”. Yes, spending hours of your life developing a workflow is worth it. Because even in a small business where your team may be only 5 or 10 people, having no documentation for a process leaves too much room open for interpretation. Managers end up feeling like team members are dropping the ball, and team members often feel they are being set up to fail by their managers. Scale up your business to 25-100 people or more and the problem becomes exponential. However, get a workflow in place and ownership and efficiency will be up and games of telephone will be down.
Ask what your workflow can do for you.
Workflows support consistency, and consistency is critical for two reasons: The first is if you are consistently doing something that is not working, it’s easy to spot it and change it. The second is that the clarity a workflow provides allows you to cut down on waste. For us, we’re concerned with wasted time – we don’t like to waste our own time or our clients’ time, but for others it may be wasted materials. Either way, regularly checking the bottleneck points in your workflow for waste will keep your business running lean and mean.
Workflows are living, breathing documents. This means that as you trim away waste, eliminate consistent inefficiencies and add more people to your team, things are going to change…and that is GOOD! Because change breathes life into your workflow, which encourages you to revisit it on occasion to make the adjustments needed to keep your organization running in the most efficient way possible. Your manager’s expectations will be crystal clear and kept in check and your team will be given the chance to succeed by always knowing exactly what is expected of them. Everyone wins!