In today’s highly demanding business world, even small businesses must often struggle with the fast-paced and rapidly evolving business environment.
This is why small businesses must ensure their business processes are as efficient as possible to stay competitive and agile amidst today’s highly demanding competition.
This is where optimizing your small business workflow is very important, and in this article, we will learn how.
With countless businesses still sticking to their outdated, inefficient processes, you’ve already been ahead of your competition by having a well-optimized workflow. Also, by implementing small business workflow optimization, you can achieve your goals and grow faster.
Small Business Workflow Optimization: Key Concept
Workflow optimization and automation is, in a nutshell, an effort to optimize and improve a workflow.
A workflow is a visual representation of a business process, typically in the form of a flowchart. How this workflow can be improved will vary depending on the business process itself, but typically it involves three core things:
- Eliminating redundancies and bottlenecks
- Ensuring the workflow is up-to-date with the latest methods and technologies
- Automating part if not the whole process when applicable
The idea is that by doing the three things above, we can ensure the workflow is as efficient as it can be.
While there are various methods and techniques that we can use to perform small business workflow optimization, it will typically involve three main steps:
- Identifying the business process to optimize.
- Building a workflow map and analyzing the process.
- Implementing optimization.
Below, we will discuss these three steps one by one:
Small Business Workflow Optimization: Step-By-Step
- Identifying the business process to optimize
A. Make a list of all business processes
Before anything else, you should identify all business processes in your small business, from simple ones like invoicing processes to complex, interrelated processes.
If your small business only has a single process (which is possible), then you can skip this step.
Provide as much information as you can for each process: what’s the process about? What’s its objective? Who is responsible for the task? Are there any visible bottlenecks or issues?
B. Pick a process to optimize
Out of all the processes you’ve identified, the next step is to pick a process to optimize.
While you can certainly optimize all your process, and that should be your end goal, it’s best to focus on one that is:
- The most crucial/impactful for your small business
- Has visible and very significant issues
You can have other considerations in mind; for example, you might want to improve the efficiency of a specific department even if it’s not the most impactful at the moment. Nevertheless, we decide on a business process and move to the next step.
2. Analyzing the business process
C. Build a workflow mapping
Now that we’ve decided on a process, the next step is to create a visual representation of the business process in a workflow map. If you are using advanced business process management software, then you can use the built-in workflow builder for this step.
We can use the information we’ll get in the following steps in building the workflow map.
D. Gather as much information as you can
The best approach for this is to involve your team members and stakeholders who frequently interact with the business process. Conduct in-depth interview sessions when possible and gather as much detail as you can about the process: the start and endpoints of the business process, all the tasks and steps between, relations between different tasks, input/output of the process, and different people involved in the process.
Also, ask their input for areas where they feel the business process can be improved/optimized.
E. Organize The Steps
Now that you’ve gathered the details of the process, the next step is to arrange the tasks in sequential order in your workflow building tool. Pay extra attention if the workflow is complex and involves parallel/interrelated processes.
Ensure that the workflow map is an accurate representation of the business process based on the information you’ve gathered.
E. Identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies
Now that you’ve got a proper visual representation of the business process, the next step is to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies by analyzing the workflow map. Decide whether there are unnecessary steps that can be eliminated and whether steps can be automated to improve their efficiencies.
You might want to involve the stakeholders and users of the process in analyzing the workflow map, as they migh provide valuable feedback.
F. Set workflow KPIs
Identify and establish your optimization KPIs so you can measure whether the workflow optimization is working as intended. For example, you can set up KPIs like:
- The success rate of the process completion
- The error rate of the process
- The average time it takes to execute the process
3. Implementing workflow optimization
F. Implement optimization
Based on the insights you’ve gathered on the previous steps, you can start implementing changes to the workflow.
G. Monitor and adjust
Monitor the performance of the optimized workflow by comparing it to the old workflow. Check whether the improvements are as desired or whether you’ll need to go back to the previous steps and optimize the workflow further.
Even small businesses can benefit from implementing workflow optimization, especially if you want to streamline your small business’s processes and be more efficient and productive in achieving your goals. By optimizing your workflows, you can eliminate bottlenecks and redundancies, reduce the likelihood of errors, and avoid issues like missed deadlines and products not meeting compliance requirements.
With a workflow management software like Aproove, you can easily and effectively perform small business workflow optimization in no time.