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.

Take your processes to new heights with our process playbooks.

Discover the building blocks of process improvement.

The Remote Work Software Blueprint

The Remote Work Software Blueprint

The Remote Work Software Blueprint

There are thousands of software platforms available to help you work from home, but which are really worth your time?

We’ve compiled a list of our 9 favorite platforms for remote work, the ones we really couldn’t work without.

1. Zoom – Video Conferencing
Zoom helps your team hold video meetings easily. It’s perfect for internal and external meetings since participants simply click a link to join the call.

2. Calendly – Scheduling
Change your meeting availability on the go and allow attendees to reschedule with ease with Calendly. Bonus tip: it has a great Zoom integration.

3. Trello – Task Management
Trello is an easy way to manage your tasks and projects. With various plugins, you can customize your boards to suit the way you work.

4. Naverisk – Remote IT
Naverisk helps IT teams deliver consistent service from anywhere in the world. It’s an impressive all-in-one IT services automation platform that keeps your systems running smoothly and accessible from the cloud.

Flowingly helps us deploy custom process systems in under a day.

5. Flowingly – Process Management
Make all of your processes and workflows accessible remotely. Run any process you want from home, from onboarding and training a new staff member, to processing a new sale. Added bonus: Flowingly gives you full visibility of where all your processes are sitting, and who they are sitting with. 

6. Intercom – Customer Engagement
Engage with customers and leads in real-time from anywhere using Intercom. Bonus tip: it can be set up to route conversations down the right channels, whether that is a help article or direct contact with sales or support. 

7. Canva – Graphic Collaboration
Collaborate on and share graphic designs in real-time with Canva. The perfect tool for de-centralizing your graphic creation, while still maintaining your brand style. 

8. Slack – Internal Communication
Slack is perfect for remote teams as it enables 1:1, team and topic-based communication. Bonus tip for pros: you can integrate other platforms to alert your team upon certain events e.g. when a new customer is registered in Salesforce, Slack will automatically let your team know. 

9. Cognism – Contact Data
Sales teams need contact data remotely? Lookup any business or prospect using Cognism, and even add them to a cold email sequence.

Have a suggestion? We’d love to hear about the software you just can’t work without.

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!

Get your business flowing

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!

Get your business flowing

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.

Get your business flowing

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!

Get your business flowing