Helping staff adopt workflow automation

Helping staff adopt workflow automation

Helping staff adopt workflow automation

Change can be a doubled-edged sword. With any transformation, employees can face uncertainty. This is true whether you’re introducing a new CRM, ERP or workflow automation platform. The gains to overall efficiency are immense and accompanied by a far superior employee experience. To ensure that your employees face minimal disruption and buy into the project, planning the implementation phase and developing a culture of continuous improvement is essential.


The core benefits

At its core, workflow automation is about the linking of steps in a business process. It allows employees to focus on their actual work rather than balancing the processes that support them. Workflow automation has been readily embraced by businesses of all sizes, and it’s not hard to see why. Workflow automation offers:  

  • Greater efficiency
  • Measurability and visibility
  • Better collaboration within and between departments
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Fewer errors

If your employees spend half their day checking emails, always seem unclear on project or task progress, or are wasting energy and time on reviewing, editing and re-doing work, your organization can benefit enormously from workflow automation.

But how can you ensure employees see your workflow automation journey in the same light you do? 

Communicate effectively

People have a tendency to avoid the things they don’t understand. It’s essential for leadership to frequently and honestly communicate with team members about the benefits and challenges of adopting workflow automation. 

There can be a lot of confusion within a workforce around what “automation” involves. Showing your employees that workflow automation won’t replace them will help to alleviate some fear and resistance.

Focusing on the outcomes and bringing staff into the company vision will demonstrate why the effort is worth it. Be sure to reiterate the & benefits that employees will be able to experience directly thanks to automation. The same goes for communicating any expected challenges.

Finally, listening to concerns and taking on feedback will give employees a sense of ownership over the new workflow automation processes and keep them aligned with your vision. Employees intuitively know which processes are slowing them down, which can be improved, and which should be scrapped. After all, they’re on the frontline day in, day out. Getting feedback from them can inform your workflow automation on a company-wide scale.

Educate staff

Workflow automation does require staff to learn to use a new platform. However minor the learning curve, managers and senior leaders need to ensure support is in place. For example, helping staff understand the basics of documenting and improving their processes or providing training for the new process platform software.

It’s worth emphasizing how workflow automation will benefit the employees themselves in order to create enthusiasm for learning.

Understand the short-term impact

It’s important to be understanding of the learning curve as staff come to grips with new technology and an improved way of working.

Make sure to allocate time for learning and feedback. Employee questions need to be heard and addressed. The people who use the processes on a regular basis are an invaluable source and engaging them in the project is essential.

By acknowledging the short-term impact and addressing the concerns around this, you instantly build trust in the workforce.

Facilitate adoption

In order to allow the team to adopt your workflow automation steps, it’s important to facilitate opportunities to do so. This could be in the form of taking sessions with departments and teams to go over and work through process documentation and mapping together.

As a first step, it could be worth assigning a team to test and implement your workflow automation solutions gradually. This could start with process mapping and move gradually into automation. This will help to get collaborators on board with adopting new changes while allowing you to troubleshoot before a full-scale launch.

You may wish to seek support from the vendor when rolling out your workflow automation system, while you keep an eye on processes to identify bottlenecks and areas for further improvement.

A smooth transition

By utilizing workflow automation, organizations can reduce the time their employees spend on menial tasks and redirect focus to more important work. Workflow automation allows companies to achieve more consistent results by reducing expenses and errors. By following the above steps, you will be able to smoothly transition into workflow automation while maintaining employee satisfaction.

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

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Simple is Good – The 3 Step Quarterly Review

Simple is Good – The 3 Step Quarterly Review

Simple is Good – The 3 Step Quarterly Review

When it comes to building process maps and automated workflows, simple is good. Processes can easily become bloated and laborious if you aren’t careful, so it’s a good idea to try and make them as basic as possible.


As simple as it gets

One of our favorite flows is the 3-Step Quarterly Review. This process is about as simple as it gets.

Performance reviews are a great place to start with process change. They are an essential part of how a company functions. The review process has a dramatic impact on employee morale. It also sets the role of professional development and formalizes a continuous feedback loop.

By limiting the review process to 3 steps, you can ensure that staff complete their reviews nice and quickly, with minimal stress.

3 steps

Our 3-Step Quarterly Review consists of the following:

Employee Feedback

Start with the employee. This is going to be different for every organization, however you could include questions such as “What are you most proud of over the last 6 months?”, “Do you feel your role has changed since your last review?” or “What areas would you like to improve in?”. If you have formal KPIs, this is a great place to put them. Remember that the purpose of a review is both to evaluate performance and identify development opportunities. Your questions should reflect this.


Manager Feedback

When it comes to evaluating employee performance, you are looking at the measures of success (e.g. KPIs), patterns in performance and distinct behaviors. The questions in this section should be the same as the questions posed to the employee. That way you are both evaluating the same thing, and you can easily discuss disparities.


Review Meeting

The meeting should always start with the manager outlining the purpose and agenda of the meeting. From there, the employee will have a chance to walk through their responses, expanding on why they felt a certain way. Once the manager has shared their notes on performance, any disparities between the two can be clarified and discussed. The employee should then be given a chance to provide feedback on the manager. Lastly, goals should be set and an ongoing development plan put in place to assist with the employee’s goals.

Is that all?

That’s all there is to it. You could make this process a whole lot more complex. Most companies do. That’s why a lot of review processes drag on over 1-2 months and end up with everyone resenting it.

We found that by moving to a much more simple review process we could shift from an annual to a quarterly review system. This made the reviews easier for both managers and staff, shifting the process from a necessary evil to a genuine feedback system. 

Build it yourself

Feel free to use the 3-Step Quarterly Review for your own team.

The simpler, the better. Breaking processes down to a few simple steps is the best way to ensure compliance and ease of use. The biggest challenge you will find in process improvement is resistance to change. So make it as easy as possible for those involved. Without all the excess, they’ll love how easy your new processes are and will quickly become supporters of the change.

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

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What is Lean Process Improvement?

What is Lean Process Improvement?

What is Lean Process Improvement?

Looking for a way to make sense of the complex parts of your organization? Know there are error-prone areas in your business? Wish there was a way to provide more clarity to your employees so they can be more productive? If you’ve answered yes to any of these, lean process improvement could be just what you need.


What is Lean Process Improvement?

Lean process improvement is a user-centric commitment to continually trim excess from an organization’s operations. From its origins in the Japanese manufacturing sector of the 1950s, lean process improvement is an approach that’s heavily geared around maximizing the productivity of people and the processes they power.

Improved customer experience should be one of the ultimate outcomes of lean process improvement – either directly or indirectly. If the proposed changes will not make a noticeable difference for the customer, there is no business case for undertaking such an initiative.

What are the benefits of Lean Process Improvement?

There are two types of benefits regarding lean process improvement. The first type broadly fits under the umbrella of improving business efficiency. It does this by:

Reducing excess

By eliminating wasted time or errors in a process, companies can either do more with the same amount of resources or can divert the cost savings to grow another area of the business.

Delivering value faster

Trimming the unessential processes of a business can shorten the time taken to accomplish a task – increasing its cost-effectiveness and scalability. 

The second type of benefit that lean process improvement offers is lifting the overall retention of businesses. The key aspects of this are:

Improving employee morale

Any form of ambiguity or lack of clarity around business process can negatively impact an employee’s productivity. Having well-defined processes helps negates this. This added clarity provides a roadmap to follow. So when employees deliver from an operational perspective, they’re more satisfied. And if they’re more satisfied, they’re less likely to be tempted by the greener grass at other businesses.

Improving customer satisfaction

Unfortunately for businesses, customers seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to broken processes. Their high expectations mean that any hint of friction is often magnified, and thanks to the competitive environments most companies compete in, this means people can easily take their custom elsewhere.

But if you get your processes right and every part of your business is in harmony like a symphony orchestra, then your customers will be satisfied and stay with you long term.

What’s the best foundation for Lean Process Improvement software?

Processes often start out simple, but they can easily blow out and be very difficult to keep track of once established. Business process management and workflow automation software is the answer. In order to get the best ROI when embracing lean process management, there are two vital elements a business needs to get right.

One process to rule them all

The most effective implementors of lean business process management software share one thing in common – their entire company buys into the approach. While individual departments can operate lean, they will eventually operate at cross purposes with others, and waste and excess will result.

It’s a way of working, not a project

The final key to implementing and maintaining effective lean business process management software is to understand the paradigm shift that it is a mindset, not a one-off endeavor to dot is and cross ts. Yes, there will be times employees or departments want to take shortcuts, but this will affect the whole business. This is where Workflow Automation software comes to the fore, as it enforces compliance organization-wide.

If lean process improvement is bought into by all employees all the time, the organization will in turn reap significant rewards.

Want to find out how going Lean can help you streamline your processes? Get your free demo of Flowingly today.

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The Best Processes Come From Within: Empowering Your Team To Own Their Processes

The Best Processes Come From Within: Empowering Your Team To Own Their Processes

The Best Processes Come From Within: Empowering Your Team To Own Their Processes

Business processes, the systematic actions a company undertakes to produce its competitive advantage, are essential for its success in the market. 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 recognise 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. This entails ensuring your employees drive the development of your processes, empowering employees to own the processes so they can fix them when required, and instilling a culture of improvement where employees know they have an equal and valued part.


You don’t need to wait either… start collaborating with each other on process improvements now by getting a demo of Flowingly.

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Process Improvement – Where to start?

Process Improvement – Where to start?

Process Improvement – Where to start?

So you’ve decided to start mapping and building your processes. Good on you! But where should you start?

It’s important to take some time to decide on which processes to target first. Creating a process for loading the staff-room dishwasher might be nice and easy, but it’s not exactly going to have a major impact on the success of your business.

You may find that several processes spring to mind instantly. Potentially these are the frustrating processes that drove you to searching for this article in the first place. That’s great! Consider these overly-frustrating processes to be your low-hanging fruit in your process overhaul. If these processes regularly frustrate you, odds are that they annoy most of the employees at your organisation!

Beyond winning-over your fellow employees by cleaning up their most dreaded processes, there are a number of other factors that you should consider when targeting what processes to start working on:


Volume/amount of times the process is run:

This one goes without saying! It is more important to improve upon and automate processes that you run every day/week than those that are run once every second year. Creating a better annual leave process will have a much higher impact on staff happiness and productivity than implementing an office relocation process. In saying this, it pays to tackle a few medium-volume processes before overhauling processes that will have an impact on the entire organisation (as covered in the next point).


Level of change management required:

The last thing you want to do is overhaul your entire payroll process without considering the potential impacts to various stakeholders. In order to gain support from the wider business you should look at improving processes that don’t require a complete change in how people work. This will be business-dependent but some processes that may not require much change-management could be equipment requests, security access requests or new employee onboardings.


Number of decision paths involved:

A well-mapped process can quickly become inefficient when humans are added. As soon as processes require approvals or re-routes they become highly dependent on the actions of individuals, and this leads to mishandling and mistakes. By automating these workflows you can intelligently route each decision to the right place. For example, you may want to improve upon your process for security access. By automating the process you can ensure that every new employee is given the correct level of security clearance required for their position.


Number of participants:

The more touchpoints in a process, the more likely it is to be inefficient. A 2-person process is much more likely to run smoothly than a 5-person process. This is because as more people are added communication breakdowns become more likely and time-sensitive deadlines become more important. By streamlining a process which touches multiple people and/or teams the benefit of process management will quickly become apparent to all involved.


Time-sensitive activities:

Time-sensitive processes stand to benefit the most from process automation. Manual processes do not promote accountability for time-sensitive steps, instead they rely on each participant to take responsibility. By automating time-sensitive processes, you can gain visibility on where bottlenecks are occurring and at what stage the process is falling over. In turn this level of visibility breeds a culture of responsibility, as no single person or team wants to be the person that caused your new product to hit shelves late, or hold up the payroll run.


Transparency & compliance required:

Process mapping and automation will have a significant positive impact on processes that require a high-level of transparency and/or compliance. We’ve all been involved in situations where we spent time trawling through old email threads to try and find a particular piece of information, only to find that it was instead sent through Slack or written on a sticky note. By utilising an automated workflow, all communications, attachments and feedback can be captured in one single place, thereby creating a simple audit trail.


By the time you’ve read through the above list a number of your problem-processes will already be swimming around your head. Now it is a matter of tackling these in a logical order.

Many organisations find it best to tackle process improvement by department. This makes sense as it means that a single department can champion the project and learnings can subsequently be applied when rolled out to other departments.

The IT and HR departments have rich sets of processes that tick many of the boxes mentioned earlier. Both departments feature processes that require high levels of compliance, time-sensitive actions and large volumes.

Operations and sales processes tend to be more complex, rely on external factors and require higher levels of change management. Once process improvement and workflow automation has been achieved across the IT and HR departments the areas of operations and sales are ripe for process improvement.


How Flowingly can help:

Flowingly is workflow software that enables you to map, automate and report on your processes.

With all the key features that are required for process automation, Flowingly can help your business increase efficiency, compliance and staff happiness.

With user-experience at the forefront, Flowingly is designed to be used by your entire workforce, from the IT department through to the warehouse team.

As a cloud-based platform, there are no major setup costs and all clients receive 24/7 global support. So jump into a demo today and try Flowingly for yourself!

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