Making Process Improvement a Priority

Making Process Improvement a Priority

Making Process Improvement a Priority

The best process improvement initiative is the one that gets done.

It’s simple. The best type of process improvement initiative at your company is the one that gets done.

Not the major project that you keep talking about but never action. Not the “current-state” process mapping exercise that ticks a box but has no follow-up actions.


The BEST type is the one that you action.

Where you ship improvements.

For process improvement to have a true impact, your employees need to be able to touch and feel it. They need to feel the impact of those improvements in their everyday working life, no matter how big or small.

Process improvement is affected by momentum. By regularly shipping improvements – even the smallest improvements – you begin to build a culture of change.

We see this with our own clients. It’s why Flowingly often starts off being used by a single department and within 2 years is used company-wide. Because the Operations team starts automating some processes, then the HR team takes a peek, then Sales, Finance and so on.

When they ask how the other team did it, the answer is simple. “We started.”

This applies to both methodologies and platforms.

Lean, Six Sigma, Kaizen, Agile. They all work.

No-code, low-code, mapping, mining, RPA. They all work too.

Each of these methodologies and platform types will have an impact when done well.

The question you need to ask is “which one can we action?”

Process improvement is affected by momentum. By regularly shipping improvements – even the smallest improvements – you begin to build a culture of change.

Bonus for making it this far…

Here are some tips for creating effective process improvement initiatives in your organization.

1. Be honest about your constraints

Got a decent sized team of developers? Great. All of the platform types listed above are options to you.

If not, cross off low-code, RPA and process mining.

Genuine support and vision for process improvement from the exec team? Business-wide process mapping is a great option.

If not, don’t even try.

Be very honest with yourself about your constraints. Without acknowledging them, you will end up with false starts and inaction.

2. Focus on consistency

What can the business continuously maintain over the coming years?

What can you consistently deploy?

You want to choose a tool that works for you today AND in 2 years’ time.

You might have a couple of weeks in January to dedicate to building that highly-integrated, uber-automated workflow. But will you then be swamped with BAU for the rest of the year?

Consistent effort is key to process improvement.

3. Get started

Action creates momentum.

Many of the successful process initiatives that I have seen are business-driven. Often, they are started by one or two people who are fed up with the status quo.

Every business needs doers.

You hear commentators mention it on the sports field all the time. “She really leads by example”. What they are saying is that she is doing the right things, and the others are inspired to follow.

The same goes in the workplace.

4. And once you’ve done this…keep improving

No process is perfect. No way.

Focus on shipping improvements – not aiming for perfection.

Maybe it’s making a process slightly more streamlined by removing an unnecessary step. Maybe it’s automating an approval that takes your team 10 minutes every day.

By continuously shipping improvements you will begin to build a culture of continuous improvement within yourself and the people around you.

The Flowingly Blog

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Celebrating Flowingly’s $4.5m Fundraise!

Celebrating Flowingly’s $4.5m Fundraise!

Celebrating Flowingly’s $4.5m Fundraise!

A letter from the CEO

Last week we announced that Flowingly had secured an incredible $4.5m in funding, led by GD1 and Icehouse Ventures.

While this is great news for us as a business, we’re actually way more excited for what this means for our customers.

At Flowingly our goal has always been to enable front-line employees to map, automate and improve their own processes without coding or IT support.

This new investment will allow us to expand the Flowingly product and vision to new markets, allowing organizations worldwide to rapidly transform their processes and create process champions from their employees.

It’ll also help us build up our team, which will in turn improve our product offering. We’ll be able to release even more features faster than ever and make significant improvements to the Flowingly experience.

A true no-code solution

I founded Flowingly in 2016, while searching for a workflow automation solution.

Most of the mid-market solutions I found required heavy IT ownership, with IT teams solely setting up and maintaining organizational workflows. Many of these platforms were also big, clunky legacy solutions which were impeding true agile process automation efforts.

I needed something different. An agile, no-code tool I could build powerful workflows in without a team of developers.

That’s how Flowingly came about.

After years of working on and self-investing in the product, we finally managed to create a product we were proud of.

As a team, we’ve always had a strong belief in the power of company-wide workflow automation and process improvement.

Your people are your greatest asset and the people who use your processes every day – why not give them the tools and the support they need to improve the way they work?

We’ve seen this vision resonate with organizations from smaller mid-market businesses to a Fortune 100 company.

Process improvement and automation shouldn’t be limited to enterprise organizations.

At Flowingly our goal has always been to enable front-line employees to map, automate and improve their own processes without coding or IT support.

Jon Kalaugher

CEO & Founder, Flowingly

Creating a new category

Two things were essential to us when developing the product.

Firstly, it needed to be user-friendly. If organizations were going to create process champions and citizen developers out of their staff, the tool needed to be easy to use. We needed your HR managers, your Heads of Finance and your CIOs to be able to jump in and get started. That’s why we went completely drag and drop.

Secondly, we wanted to create a truly no-code experience. No-code for us meant no rules, no developers, no knowledge of code languages. At all.

This has meant we’ve been able to help mid-market businesses around the world transform their old, manual ways of working into modern digital experiences in as little as 30 minutes.

It has also helped empower front-line employees to create and improve their own processes.

We’ve seen a rates officer at a local council lead the way in fully transforming their financial processes. We’ve seen a waste management company automate over 80 workflows in just 12 months.

The power of process improvement has never been more accessible.

From our team to yours

Once again, a massive thank you to all of our customers who placed their trust in us for their process improvement journeys.

We couldn’t have done it without the support of the teams at GD1 and Icehouse Ventures who are fully backing the Flowingly mission.

To see how you could cut admin and waste out of your processes, get a trial today!

How to Build Successful Workflows

How to Build Successful Workflows

How to Build Successful Workflows

You’ve heard that automating your workflows will give you all sorts of productivity and visibility gains. You’ve decided on your workflow platform and you’re ready to go. But then you ask yourself:

“How do I actually build a decent workflow?”

Many people believe that workflows are designed to tie together systems.

They send emails for you automatically. They trigger a purchase order to be raised. They flag an issue.

However, this leaves out a key part of the equation. The people.

Building successful workflows is all about the people element.

For your workflow to be considered “successful”, ask yourself:

A) Does this improve the employee or customer experience?

B) Does this increase company productivity?

It is easy to focus on one of these over the other.

You can build the most efficient workflow possible. But if your employees get frustrated using it, they will find ways around it.

So how do you keep the people element in mind when building your workflow?

Here are 6 tips that may help:

Make it easy to follow

Design your workflow for those who are using it. Not for those who are building it.

Your workflow should read more like a process, not a system map.

Label steps clearly and in a way that makes sense to anyone.

Include instruction fields where helpful. This prompts people on what they need to do.

Avoid acronyms and jargon.

The idea here is that everyone from your CEO to your new intern should be able to understand at a glance who is responsible and what is required of them.

Serve up the right information at the right time

Searching for information is one of the biggest time wasters in the workplace.

Depending on which study you want to reference, the average employee spends anywhere in the range of 4.5 to 9 hours a week searching for information.

How can your workflow give your employees back all these wasted hours?

It serves up the right information when they need it.

Think of things like:

  • Having your Working from Home policy available as a downloadable attachment in the Working from Home application.
  • Saving a “Welcome to XYZ” email template in your Sales Handover workflow.
  • Serving up relevant contracts and paperwork within a workflow, rather than saved in some obscure SharePoint folder.

Think about your audience

Will your HR team be using the workflow? Or will it be your factory staff?

Will they be at a desk? Or on the factory floor?

Your audience will define what makes a good workflow.

What output are you looking to achieve? Work backwards from there.

Maybe the output you’re looking for is that your factory staff consistently log incident reports. Make it easier for them by using dropdown options and image uploads rather than asking them to write an essay.

Potentially you want to increase the quality and consistency of your employee onboardings. Submission speed and screen size is not as much a factor here. Instead, give your team everything they need in one place, from tax forms to H&S induction records.

Equally, if you want to speed up your Capital Expenditure sign-offs, make sure your Executive team can sign-off on the go. Phone notifications with one-touch approval may be best here.

Your audience will define what makes a good workflow.

What output are you looking to achieve? Work backwards from there.

Utilize automated reminders and deadlines

As people we’re inherently forgetful. Even more so when we’re under the pump.

Lean on your workflow system to do the remembering for you.

Adding deadlines and reminders to each step of a workflow gives your employees a clear To Do list to follow.

Automating these reminders means that you should never have to push the process. It should roll right along without any intervention.

Added bonus: Adding deadlines to a step in Flowingly will allow you to run reports on your SLAs. Even if it’s not a critical action, adding deadlines to all steps will make it easier to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies within your processes.

Ditch the documentation

If your staff need to read an instruction manual on how to submit a request, then you’re in trouble.

Big trouble.

They’ll end up emailing the CFO direct rather than applying through your overly confusing Capital Expenditure form.

Ditch the documentation and design an experience that makes life easier for your employees.

Label fields in a way that makes sense to the end-user.

Include instructions and rich content such as videos or templates to guide them.

Add a “Help” email address to your more complex forms. Or if your workflow system has it (as Flowingly does), prompt users to leave any troubleshooting questions in the comments.

Future-proof your workflows

Workflow admins change. Whether your Business Analyst, HR Manager or CIO is building your workflows, chances are they will move on at some point.

The last thing you need is for your workflows to fall over as soon as they leave.

It might seem crazy, but we’ve heard companies say they had to rebuild a workflow because they had no idea how it was built in the first place.

That’s one of the benefits of a no-code system. You don’t have to decipher lines of code to uncover how the workflow works.

The most important thing? The people.

There’s a famous Maori proverb here in New Zealand.

He aha te mea nui o te Ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.

What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.

When improving your processes and workflows, start with the people.

Think of their experience. What would make their job easier? What information do they need to complete their tasks? What would remove frustrations from their day-to-day?

Do this, and the productivity will come with it.

Want to find out how Flowingly puts the employee experience first? Get a demo today.

Onboard & Induct a New Employee

Onboard & Induct a New Employee

Onboard & Induct a New Employee

A quality onboarding experience is the single most important step to getting a new staff member to an operational level quickly. Sadly, this is a process that many organizations only pay lip-service to.

If you’ve been lucky enough to join a company with an exceptional onboarding experience, you’ll know just how powerful it is. The benefits are endless. Better understanding of company culture. Improved grasp of responsibilities. Increased performance through better training. Decreased time to becoming fully operational.

1. Send Welcome Email and Request New Employee’s Details Manager

What better way to kick-off the new employee’s experience than with an email welcoming them to the company! This is a great way to introduce them to the company culture and set the tone for what they can expect going forward.

Use this opportunity to request the employee’s details, such as their tax details, superannuation info or their working visa. This will save you more time on their first day.

2. Complete New Employee Basic Information Manager

Once the manager has the employee’s basic information, they can collate it into a standardized form for the HR team.

When building this process, it is the responsibility of the HR team to outline exactly what they require to process a new employee. If it’s not outlined in the process, the manager will not know what is required.

3. Approve Employee Paperwork & Enter in HR System Human Resources

This step is where the HR team enters the provided details into their systems. The first action is to check that all the requested details have been entered correctly. If not, the process can be sent back to the manager to fix.

We use a combination of a task list and an approval in this step. This could be split into two, however the best processes are nice and simple. This creates no unnecessary wastage and less admin.

4. Prepare Employee’s Desk and Laptop IT Services

Now that the basic information has been covered, it’s time to setup the employee’s tool-of-trade. IT can simply come in and follow a quick checklist outlining what the employee requires. A handy addition to this step would be a quick video on desk ergonomics!

Optional extra: Some companies may require a stack of software to be setup for the new employee. If this is the case, additional fields can be used to inform IT of the required software. This removes the hassle of back-and-forth emails over logins during the first couple of weeks.

5. Issue New Employee Items Administration

It’s now Day 1 of the employee’s new job and they require some basic items to become a fully-functional employee. Things you might want to include here:

  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Security door key
  • Swipe card

If you’re more advanced with your processes, you would link this up with your employee exit process. This would allow you to mark off these items as returned at the end of employment.

6. Complete Activities by End of Week 1 New Employee

As we all know, the first week at a company can be a bit of a blur. Most organizations have a standardized approach. This step of the process should be a simple checklist, where the employee can check off that they have been introduced to the team, gone through an H&S induction, had their photo taken and more.

7. Complete Activities by End of Month 1 New Employee

The key to an effective onboarding is having specific timings and goals. It is important for the manager to set aside time to understand how the employee is tracking and to give them feedback and coaching. Many businesses have their new employees spend time with different parts of the company.

The end of month 1 is a great time to get together and review the key takeaways that the employee has had in their first few weeks. This step may include a review of what the employee has learned and opportunities for company improvement that they have seen with fresh eyes.

8. Complete Activities by End of Months 2 & 3 New Employee

By now the employee should be progressing to an operational stage. This is a good chance for the employee to review their learnings and sit down with their manager to evaluate their progress. It is important to capture feedback at this step. This will help management understand the effectiveness of the onboarding process, and whether it requires further improvement.

How to Foster Continuous Improvement

How to Foster Continuous Improvement

How to Foster Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement identifies opportunities to reduce waste and streamline work. Broadly speaking, it finds opportunities to execute processes more effectively and get more from less. Although this approach originated in manufacturing, continuous improvement is an essential element to countless successful companies across every conceivable vertical.

For many, there’s little doubt that fostering continuous improvement can drive sustainable, long-term results. The bigger question is often whether it be introduced effectively across all levels of their organization.

How individual staff can foster continuous Improvement

As individuals within an organization, staff can encourage and support continuous improvement while also enjoying its benefits. As individuals within an organization, staff can encourage and support continuous improvement while also enjoying its benefits.
The Kaizen process is the almost synonymous methodology for this. The term itself translates to “continuous improvement” in Japanese.
Popularised by Toyota, Kaizen focuses on making small, frequent improvements to existing processes, and from any level of an organization. Kaizen challenges stubborn “how we’ve always done things” attitudes typically found in well-established organizations.  By way of making micro-changes, Kaizen eliminates waste and silos. It aims for standardised processes in:

Quality of products, business processes and following best practices 

  • Cost of resources
  • Delivery time and non-value-added activities
  • Management of attitudes, training, flow and documentation
  • Safe working conditions

Individuals can implement the Kaizen philosophy by:

  • Using flowcharts or value stream maps to visualize current processes and identify areas of improvement.
  • Questioning the status quo in order to make meaningful changes to processes.
  • Dropping the pursuit of perfection – no methodology can ever create perfect systems or processes, but they can continuously improve conditions.
  • Celebrating your successes and those of your team members in small ways to keep everyone invested and engaged.
  • Setting aside time for team collaboration on improvement projects.

How leadership can foster continuous Process Improvement through systems & culture

Leadership have an equally important role to play as front-line staff. They can often contribute large amounts through creating a change culture.

This can be done by:

  • Empowering everyone to make small changes in their own processes. Small ideas can lead to big changes.
  • Creating an environment where employees feel free to address problems and pitch ideas. If the idea doesn’t work out, it should be iterated and improved instead of dismissed as a failure.
  • Holding continuous improvement events, providing team members with tasks to action to help new processes take hold within the organization.

While Kaizen can be highly applicable on a company-wide scale, Total Quality Management (TQM) is a methodology that leaders may wish to utilize or borrow from. Gaining popularity in the late 1980’s after the US Federal Government implemented it, TQM strives for customer satisfaction.

Organizations using TQM typically adhere to the following principles:

  • A strategic and systematic approach should be followed.
  • Customers determine the quality level.
  • Employees are to work towards common goals with effective communication and training ensuring consistent quality.
  • Organizations should define the steps that are required in any process and monitor performance, continuously looking for ways to compete.

Diagrams are readily embraced by TQM companies, including Ishikawa diagrams, flowcharts and check sheets.

Aside from these systemic efforts, company leaders also need to make changes to culture to support continuous improvement by:

  • Recognizing and rewarding continuous improvement successes, such as with raises, promotions, bonuses or even recognition.
  • Becoming a courageous change leader by supporting constructive disruption.
  • Leading by example, such as by being receptive to feedback or conducting regular self-assessments with vulnerability.
  • Thinking of ways to develop your employees, not just your product or service.
  • Hiring with diversity in mind in order to benefit from a broad spectrum of perspectives and ideas.

How individual staff and leadership can work together to foster continuous process improvement

A culture of continuous process improvement can only thrive if individual staff and leadership work together.

Continuous improvement should be integrated into all aspects of the business. For example it can be included in internal communication, KPIs, personal development programs and job descriptions.

A shared vision needs to be emphasised through these everyday activities, reiterating the need to strive towards a common goal.

A suggestion process should be developed so that ideas can be easily gathered and evaluated. This also includes developing a clear system to follow instead of allowing individuals to implement changes at will.

Collaboration on continuous process improvement needs to be done through empowerment, involvement and suggestions, not directions or orders.

Continuous process improvement methodologies like Kaizen and TQM can help individuals improve their own approach to work by eliminating waste, while allowing organizations to optimise involvement from people at every level.

As well as improving production and costs, continuous process improvement improves morale and satisfaction, leading to better outcomes and retention.

Small changes can make an enormous difference, with a thriving continuous improvement process setting you up for sustainable success.