Improving workflow is an important process whether it is for an individual or an organization. An improved workflow is proven to maximize efficiency, minimize waste in both time and resources and improve morale. The way to improve workflow can be as simple as identifying and eliminating wasted time or as complex as examining and changing the entire process and/or automating all or part of it. No matter how large or small the job or process, it is worth the time and effort to take the steps to improve workflow.
The first step to improve workflow is to identify and eliminate waste, and the biggest waste of all is time. The modern workplace has become used to and dependent on email, instant messaging and texting. These means of communication were intended to save time, but they can lead to an overabundance of useless information and wasted time. You can improve workflow simply by eliminating or limiting instant messaging and texting and by setting reasonable expectations on email. Reacting to or responding to emails as soon as they come in can be a time waster. Setting several times during the day that is devoted to reading and answering emails will improve your workflow and productivity.
These interruptions are just a few of the many that can put a stop to workflow. Any job or process will proceed better and further with a reasonable block of time devoted to it rather than trying to get it done in small increments. Setting aside even 20 or 30 minutes to devote to a single task or process will help you make great strides in increasing productivity and improving workflow. Focusing on a particular task for a relatively short but uninterrupted block of time can be one of the best methods to help you improve workflow.
For more complicated procedures and larger organizations, it requires a more systematic approach to improve workflow. These processes involve breaking the workflow into small, finite steps and analyzing the tasks involved in each step. The two most important principles that can then be assigned to each step are responsibility and automation. A single person or entity needs to be completely responsible for achieving each step, which eliminates finger-pointing and procrastination.
The next part is asking whether a step can be automated. Any part of the process that can be completely automated, taking personnel out of the equation, is a major step toward improving workflow. After each step has been analyzed, responsibility has been assigned, and the work has been automated where possible, the entire workflow process will be much improved.
The steps to improve workflow mostly involve common sense and traditional management techniques. The challenge is to break the workflow into manageable steps and then improve each of the steps involved. In this way, you can eliminate waste, maximize time and productivity and improve workflow.