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Five Workflow Optimization Tricks to Follow
Almost all employees have repeatable workflows to do their jobs and achieve the department's goals. These workflows typically include actions that must be completed in a specific order, with some conditional flow in how they respond to different process inputs, who else must be notified or take actions in the process, and, finally, an objective for completing the process.
Fremont, CA: Workflow optimization is applying repeatable rules and automation to an existing business process to improve efficiency, reduce errors, and promote collaboration. Incorporating explicit steps and logic into business processes makes it easier to measure workflow performance and allows for continuous improvement and iterations.
5 Workflow Optimization Suggestions
While workflow optimization can be applied to a wide range of processes, there are five general guidelines to follow:
Combine your Data with Third-party Services
Integrating the various systems in a workflow is critical for increasing efficiency and reducing human error caused by manual data entry. Many third-party software systems, such as ERP or CRM platforms and data warehouses, provide Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for automating these processes.
Make use of Conditional Logic
Conditional logic ("if this then that" logic) enables you to automate processes that require built-in decision-making that a human would otherwise perform. This allows the creation of more complex workflows that can make decisions independently.
Inform Stakeholders About Critical Actions
The communication overhead is a time-consuming and inefficient part of many workflows. When multiple parties are involved, people must coordinate meeting times, notify one another of changes, and send follow-ups to complete work. Much of this can be automated by incorporating proper alerting systems into the workflow.
Eliminate Manual Data Entry
Manual data entry is time-consuming and increases the possibility of human error, leading to delays, backlogs, and even operational errors. While data entry cannot permanently be eliminated because original data sources are sometimes manually entered — for example, in a form or survey — it is usually unnecessary to manually enter data already sourced elsewhere.
Monitor Metrics, Analyze Analytics, and Iterate Workflows
It is critical to collect data and track key performance indicators (KPIs) about workflows to identify potential inefficiencies and improve.
Data analytics systems can assist in monitoring this at a high level, and alerting can even be implemented on top of these metrics to notify management when KPIs are degrading and must be addressed. Workflow optimization should always be viewed as an iterative and continuous process.