Imagine you are in charge of a business that sells widgets. You think there’s an opportunity to increase your profits by 20% this year if you can figure out how to get customers to buy more at each visit.
You’ve heard about the benefits of operational workflows, but don’t know where to start. It sounds like it would be complicated and time-consuming, so you’re not sure it’s worth doing. But suppose we told you that optimizing your operational workflows could help you sell more widgets? What do you think now? You might want to read on…
What is an Operational Workflow?
An operational workflow (or business process) is a series of tasks that are performed on a regular basis to achieve some goal. For example, an operational workflow for your business might be the way you take orders from customers or ship products to your distributors.
A well-designed operational workflow streamlines the process of performing tasks, reduces costs, and increases efficiency.
Who can benefit from operational workflow?
A lot of businesses can benefit from optimizing their operational workflows. This can include any business that performs a lot of repetitive tasks throughout the day since it’s a way to get rid of unnecessary steps and make your process more efficient by cutting down on wasted time.
For example, even small businesses need to go through daily processes that take up a significant amount of time without much reward or added value. If you’re an accountant who spends all day working with files and other data, chances are there are some parts of your workflow which you find redundant and could be automated. For hotels, the manual processes of staff are a big factor in increased costs, so the services like the ones Hot SoS offers can prove to be useful solutions for optimizing the workforce. There are many other examples in different types of industries where efficiency can be improved upon, such as banks, call centers, etc.
Operational Workflows and Process Improvement Techniques
The ultimate goal of every operational workflow is to make it run as smoothly as possible. You can accomplish this by making sure that everyone who needs to participate in the workflow knows their role, follows the steps correctly, and communicates effectively with others involved in the process.
To do this, you should periodically review your business processes for opportunities to improve them through process improvement techniques such as:
Process Mapping – A graphic representation of all elements involved in a particular procedure or activity.
- Identifying Improvements – Breaking down cumbersome tasks into specific steps that are easier to follow.
- Data Analysis – Examining which parts of your workflow are the most labor-intensive to determine how they can be improved.
An operational workflow should also be constantly examined and evaluated to determine if it is accomplishing its goal or objective, which might mean that steps need to be changed or new processes implemented. For example, if you’ve accomplished your objective of limiting inventory while increasing sales by 20% each year, then your operational workflow has been successful!
Why Optimize Your Operational Workflows?
Simply put, optimizing operational workflows allows you to increase your efficiency and profitability by getting the most out of operations.
For example, let’s look at a widget business again. In analyzing its operational workflow, they might find that there is too much back-and-forth communication between employees involved in taking orders from customers over the phone and those preparing product shipments. After mapping out their process for this task, they realize that it would be far more efficient if customer service were to take orders directly from a spreadsheet instead of relying on verbal input from a phone call. This change would not only save time but also reduce errors since the information provided verbally can be misheard or misunderstood.
Reduce micromanagement and increase accountability
Micromanagement is the act of managing too much or over-managing. It can be very stressful for managers and their teams. One way to reduce micromanagement is with operational workflows. By breaking a task down into smaller steps and having employees follow a workflow process, it will be easier for managers to see what their teams are doing. While this might seem like the opposite of being more efficient, it actually reduces the amount of time that managers spend managing and allows them to focus on other tasks that need their attention.
Also set goals and deadlines for employees at the beginning of the project. This way, they can work independently to accomplish their goals with less supervision.
When communicating with employees, it’s also very important not to undermine them by dictating everything they should do (this can lead them to feel like they’re not being trusted). Let them know what their responsibilities are and how you expect them to complete these.
Operational workflows help create predictability in your organization – with processes being executed consistently from one day to another, everyone can have a good idea about how much time they have to complete a task. This results in less stress and makes employees more likely to stay with the company longer because they know what is expected of them and when their work will be reviewed and evaluated for compensation purposes.
Increase collaboration and communication
Operational workflows also increase the likelihood of employees collaborating with one another. They can benefit from knowledge sharing and work together to complete projects in a timely manner. Also, this increased communication will help managers gain a better understanding of how their teams are working together and if any changes need to be made based on workflow processes.
Efficiency is key when it comes to having success in business. Organization, process management, and workflow are essential tools that every company should have to optimize its efficiency. Once these are implemented, you can begin seeing results in your office immediately!
Manage projects with ease
Operational workflows are great for teams that have to complete projects in a certain amount of time. An approved workflow process ensures that your team members know what they’re responsible for, where they should go next, and who they need to speak with if their task requires approval by someone else. With milestones being consistently met and with workflow processes being executed, projects will be completed in a timely manner and you’ll avoid the headache of employees missing deadlines.
All in all, optimizing your operational workflows allows a business to increase its overall efficiency and profitability by getting more out of its day-to-day operations.