The best processes come from within

The best processes come from within

The best processes come from within

Empowering your team to own their processes.

Business processes are core to competitive advantage. All companies have them, yet very few companies acknowledge or mine them for their true value. So how can you define your business processes? It starts, carries on, and finishes with people.
 

Here’s how…

The people who will use the processes
need to build the processes

Your staff are the lifeblood of your organization, without them, your business wouldn’t exist. That’s why it’s crucial to have them front and center on your business process journey.

Speak with your employees, work with them, watch them, listen to them, hear what they say and note down what they don’t. Your team often knows what the optimal workflows look like, which means by working with them you’ll have a more realistic, comprehensive business process understanding.

One other bonus of bringing staff on this journey is that they’ll be more likely to support any change that may occur as a result (and you know how much people love change) if they’re seen as valuable contributors.

Empowering

ownership of processes

We all know the feeling of getting burnt, with the affected part of the body telling the brain “ouch, something has to change because I can’t stand this for much longer”.

Businesses are no different. Employees are the equivalent feedback mechanism for the business, playing a critical part in maintaining and fixing business processes.

Apart from having employees build the processes so they’re invested from the start, what else can be done to encourage such ownership?

  • Set up a system that rewards employees for proactively seeking improvement.
  • Always keep key outcomes front of mind to create a bigger picture for their outputs.
  • Make the documented processes easily accessible so they’re always in mind.
  • Consider utilizing the feedback features of your workflow software so employees at any level can continually refer to other shared insights.

Creating a culture of Improvement

Just because you document your business processes doesn’t mean your employees will seek continual improvement, let alone prescribe to them. You need to create a culture of improvement, which has to happen from the top (in an Undercover Boss kind of way if needs be).Through our experience working with businesses of all shapes and sizes, we’ve noticed two points worth keeping in mind when instilling a culture of improvement:

Highlight excellence
In ordered to recognize the excellence, you first need to identify what it looks like in your business, field, or industry. Once this has been established, acknowledging parts of the business or employees will motivate the right kind of behaviour and drive business success.

Expect greatness
Over time high performance is an achievement that’s progressively unlocked over time. Don’t expect excellence immediately, but rather take time in the planning phase to ensure you have a pragmatic timeframe. And also don’t settle for when you think you’ve ‘achieved’ excellence, because all you really did was reset the bar.

So where do the best business processes come from?

Take the governance approach to business processes. Ensure your employees drive the development of your processes, empower employees to own the processes and instill a culture of improvement.

Creating a Culture of Process Improvement

Starting your process improvement journey is a huge step towards business improvement. You’re on a journey that will have an enormous impact on the efficiency, culture and fortunes of your company.

Get your business Flowing

35 processes you should be automating now!

35 processes you should be automating now!

35 processes you should be automating now!

Bogged down with manual tasks? There’s a fix for you. Each of these processes can be automated in hours. Without developers.

 

Without code.

Automate these and you’ll be humming.

PROCESSES FOR PEOPLE & CULTURE

  1. Employee onboardings
  2. Employee exits
  3. New starter document requests
  4. Policy sign offs
  5. Quarterly reviews
  6. Hiring requests
  7. Leave applications

PROCESSES FOR IT

  1. Change management requests
  2. Application access
  3. Application removal

PROCESSES FOR HEALTH & SAFETY

  1. Incident reporting
  2. Health & safety inductions
  3. Hazard identification

PROCESSES FOR PRODUCT

  1. New product development
  2. Product changes

PROCESSES FOR SALES

  1. New customer onboarding
  2. Special pricing requests
  3. Price changes

PROCESSES FOR FINANCE

  1. Purchase card applications
  2. Invoice processing
  3. CAPEX requests
  4. OPEX request
  5. Expense reimbursements

PROCESSES FOR OPERATIONS

  1. Non-conformance reporting
  2. Assigning a new contractor
  3. Quality checklists
  4. Log sheets
  5. Idea to initiative evaluation

PROCESSES FOR CUSTOMER SUCCESS

  1. Conducting quarterly customer check-ins
  2. Managing customer complaints
  3. Providing customer support
  4. Manage at-risk customers

PROCESSES FOR REMOTE WORKING

  1. Remote work requests
  2. Remote working policy sign off
  3. Remote workspace setup

eBook – Essential Processes for Health & Safety

Looking to upgrade from paper Health & Safety forms and incident reports? Our latest playbook gives you the processes needed to keep your employees safe at work.

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The Best Features from 2020

The Best Features from 2020

The Best Features from 2020

Last year Flowingly focused on a rapid release of new features which had been requested by our customers, so here are a few of the key ones in case you missed them. We are shortly set to release our first update of 2021 so stay tuned!

#1 Rules Engine

Next time you create or edit a workflow step you’ll notice a new Rules tab alongside the Details and Form tabs. This new rules tab allows you to use If This > Then That logic to direct a workflow. The first rule to be released will allow you to set the Assignee of a future step based on an action taken in a previous step.

Using a Database, you can now assign a Step based on relationships within that Database.

#2 Map UI

Interact with Steps directly from the Runner! Using the new map interaction features, users now have the ability to see at a glance exactly what is required at every stage of a process. This means you no longer have to open up each map, just click and drill-down!

This makes for easier navigation and access to the exact Procedures, Policies and Work Instructions that sit within a process.

#3 Process Details

Ever wonder who the owner of a process is? Or need a bit more context around the purpose of the process?
You now have the ability to add more details into a process summary. The following fields can now be edited by admins and accessed by users:

  • Process Owner
  • Process Review Date
  • Background
  • Objective
  • Input
  • Output

This now gives an admin more specified information on the objective of a Workflow and what changes could be made to improve the process.

It’s also good to mention some favourite new functions based on feedback. Knowing how our customers use the platform helps guide development on what features we add next.

# Printer-Friendly Flows

We’ve improved the export Flow functionality and allow users to save it in a more printer friendly format.

The new document now includes a comment section which will include all comments added by workflow users while the flow was in progress.

A common use-case is to include comments made on an expense request process, printed for archival purposes.

# Table Sums

Table sums can now be used as a value in subsequent steps. This means that you can pull both currency and number sums direct from a table, either to display them easily to a user or to help route your Decision pathways.

You can also use the sums within formula fields and custom emails. So, if you have a column in a table that captures amount, in another column you could capture discount rate, and in a formula field below you could calculate the discounted rate.

This opens up a range of possibilities, especially for all those using Flowingly for financial workflows such as CAPEX or Expense Management.

That was the best of last year but with 2021 we have plans for more functionality and simplification as we move to make Flowingly the best possible process and workflow platform for our users. If you have feedback or questions about what you would like to see, please leave us a comment.

Thanks for taking the time to read the blog and we look forward to bringing you more great features throughout the coming year.

If you’d like to learn more about how Flowingly can help you manage approvals, tasks and workflows for your business, get a trial today!

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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.

Creating a Culture of Process Improvement

Starting your process improvement journey is a huge step towards business improvement. You’re on a journey that will have an enormous impact on the efficiency, culture and fortunes of your company.

You’re in good company 

Proud to be driving digital transformation globally.

Construction

Golden Homes manage all construction projects through Flowingly, delivering enhanced business visibility.

Enterprise

A Fortune 100 company uses Flowingly to automate 5,000+ process tasks a day for 70,000+ users globally.

Professional Services

Harper Digital utilize Flowingly to deliver exceptional customer service and automate and manage their projects.

Local Government

East Gippsland Shire Council use Flowingly to map and automate workflows, delivering a central system of record for all processes.

Education

NMIT transformed manual processes into automated workflows, delivering significant business benefits and risk reduction.

Food Production
Zespri use Flowingly to ensure business-wide compliance across their non-conformance processes and workflows.

Get your business Flowing

How to Write Engaging Processes

How to Write Engaging Processes

How to Write Engaging Processes

Have you ever noticed that there are some processes that you can read from end-to-end, while others lose you at the first step?

Why does this happen? Well, it’s just like reading a book. Some books will grab you right from the first page, and others will end up sitting unread on your bookshelf…

Process writing is a key part of getting people engaged with processes, and with the wider process improvement journey. By engaging your audience, you will get better buy-in to process improvement and significantly increase your likelihood of organization-wide adoption.

Let’s have a look at how to write a good process.

Process improvement success = 1 part process, 1 part engagement

When we implement our process excellence programs for our customers, we spend more time on engagement than any other area. From nailing your internal communications, through to rolling out your first processes, engaging your employees throughout the journey is key to success.

The best part about creating an engaged, process-driven workforce is that not only will it improve how your processes function, it will also improve individual performance. This is because it is human nature to work towards a common, clearly-defined, better state.

A few “best practice” tips to keep in mind

Walk them through it

A well-written process should be able to walk a brand-new employee through the process step-by-step. Yes, you may have raised that purchase order in Xero a thousand times, but remember that your new employee has never done that before. So walk them through it.

Don’t overcomplicate it

Keep it nice and simple. No one is ever going to read your multi-page, 45-step guide to dealing with a customer complaint. Aim to simplify every process you write. The goal is to remove bloat, not add more.

It’s about incremental improvements

Your first take will always be a rough guide. There’s a reason most process applications have version control. Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. Map the process and then provide it to key stakeholders for feedback. Then rinse and repeat.

The keys to writing an engaging process

Focus on the common path

There will always be exceptions to the process. Don’t get hung up on the “what ifs”. Focus on what happens 90% of the time, and remove any uncommon variations to keep your process simple.

Your process should look nice and streamlined, not like a gigantic spider’s web.

Remove steps by grouping tasks

Ever seen a process which has 4 steps in a row designated to the same person or team? This is super-common, and most often it’s unnecessary. By grouping common tasks under a single step you can quickly simplify your process.

Doing this will allow you to keep your processes short and simple. Aim for a maximum of 10 steps within a process. This will make your processes much less daunting when someone accesses them for the first time.

Actions, actions, actions

Always write your processes with an action in mind. What action do you take? You onboard a new employee, you request CAPEX, you process an order.

Every process name and step name should start with a verb. Not only does this create a standardized naming convention, it also makes it clear for users what action they are meant to take.

Add rich content (as much as possible)

Everyone learns differently. Some of us like to read, some like to watch, some like to listen. It’s important that your processes cater to your entire audience. Keep people engaged by adding in rich content such as videos, images, guides, documents and hyperlinks.

Rather than having written instructions for your H&S induction, insert a video. Instead of typing out what your company welcome pack includes, take a photo and add that into the process.

Quick tip: videos don’t have to be daunting and high-production. Tools like Vidyard are great for walking someone through actions on your screen. Want to walk someone through how to raise a Purchase Order in your ERP? Use Vidyard to record your actions while you’re doing it, showing exactly where to click and what to enter.

Use workflow to deal with exceptions

When documenting a process, focus on the common path and remove exceptions. When turning that process into an automated workflow, you can add those exceptions back in. This is because a workflow will walk people down the correct path without showing them any of the myriad other routes they could have taken.

Use decisions and parallel pathways to manage this. Decision pathways will use defined logic to decide which path the process should take, whereas parallel pathways will enable multiple steps to happen at the same time.

Treat your writing like a process

When documenting your next process, follow the tips above just the same as you would with a process. Get your structure. Apply the best practice principles. Group the tasks. Name with a verb. Add in rich content. Pretty soon you’ll have a highly engaging process to share with your workforce!

Want to find out how Flowingly can help you build processes that your workforce will actually engage with? Jump on a call with one of our process specialists today.

If you’d like to learn more about how Flowingly can help you on your process improvement journey, get a demo today!

You’re in good company 

Proud to be driving digital transformation globally.

Construction

Golden Homes manage all construction projects through Flowingly, delivering enhanced business visibility.

Enterprise

A Fortune 100 company uses Flowingly to automate 5,000+ process tasks a day for 70,000+ users globally.

Professional Services

Harper Digital utilize Flowingly to deliver exceptional customer service and automate and manage their projects.

Local Government

East Gippsland Shire Council use Flowingly to map and automate workflows, delivering a central system of record for all processes.

Education

NMIT transformed manual processes into automated workflows, delivering significant business benefits and risk reduction.

Food Production
Zespri use Flowingly to ensure business-wide compliance across their non-conformance processes and workflows.

Get your business Flowing

Creating a Vision for Your Process Journey

Creating a Vision for Your Process Journey

Creating a Vision for Your Process Journey

It is essential to meet evolving market and business requirements. Countless businesses embrace process mapping and automation. A strong plan allows you to make precise course corrections while minimizing disruptions. Creating a vision for process improvement doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does require a vision and good planning to be carried out properly.

Determining YourVision!

In order to get your process journey started on the right foot, you need to determine your vision. As well as looking at specific problems you’re trying to solve, think about your outcomes. Consider what you want to achieve in the long term and the experience you want to create for your customers and employees. Some questions you may want to ask yourself include:

  • What does an “effective process” look like for the company?
  • How much of a change do I want to make? 
  • What is my benchmark for successful process improvement?
While needing to address future needs, your process improvement plan also needs to meet short-term objectives, using resources available today. Being able to communicate your target state is essential to get buy-in from all team members. A clearly articulated vision will resonate with employees, shareholders and customers. It aligns your efforts and promotes understanding during the project.
Allocation of Resources

Preparing your team is the next step of a successful process improvement effort. This includes creating a team of business domain experts. If you don’t have the capacity to build an in-house team, try to find a partner or platform vendor who can be trusted to implement your company’s business improvement journey.

Process improvement is an ongoing process, but it’s still worth thinking about what can be achieved in the short term with the resources available. 

Recent technological advances have presented huge opportunities for competitive advantage gains from process improvement. This has put on some extra pressure, with 85% of key decision makers now feeling they have only 2 years to make significant progress on digital transformation projects, including implementing workflow automation. Fortunately an experienced process improvement partner or platform vendor should help your organization make gains in a much shorter time-frame.

The business landscape will continuously evolve. Instead of focusing on the specifics of your process think about your pace of change and the ideal outcomes.

Frameworks to Begin Process Improvement

There are a number of existing frameworks to assist you in your journey. Their structure supports and guides all levels of your organization on successfully implementing change. Pro-activity trumps reactivity in an effective business environment, so continuous innovation allows organizations to launch, learn and revise approaches. A successful process framework aims to drive a broader cultural shift within the organization, particularly in the areas of empowerment, transparency and accountability.

Some tips to consider:

  • Create the right working environment, even if your team is distributed or remote, information sharing needs to be a core component of your working environment.
  • Celebrate and recognize team successes to keep morale high.
  • Enlist help from knowledgeable and experienced staff.

By improving collaboration, you can deliver better value and reshape processes more effectively.

Often, it’s difficult to know where to begin. We propose the following approach to our clients to get them started: 
  • Gather and document process requirements
  • Map existing process
  • Automate process
  • Test process flow
  • Test against requirements
  • Address issues
  • Deliver the finished product
Once their existing process is automated, we then recommend they use their process management platform reporting to identify areas of improvement.

Implementing process improvement is necessary to ensure you’re not left behind in an age of rapid change. Creating a timeline and roadmap for following the above recommendations will help you transform your organization for the better.

This is an excerpt from Flowingly’s process guide, Creating a Culture of Process Improvement.

Creating a Culture of Process Improvement

Starting your process improvement journey is a huge step towards business improvement. You’re on a journey that will have an enormous impact on the efficiency, culture and fortunes of your company.

Get your business Flowing