How to Refine Your Workflow to Simplify the Process

Most people do not work on refining their systems because they do not want to spend time researching, brainstorming, and making decisions to change the system to be more efficient. We think it takes a lot of time, what’s the point of spending an hour trying to figure out how to save 5-minutes on a process, right?

But, what we often forget is the big picture. 5-minutes isn’t a one-time saving, it happens every time that process is used or run. Eventually, you end up a lot more than you invested, in terms of time as well as money.

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Looking at each process workflow from the beginning will help you identify steps that you need to merge or do simultaneously, automate, outsource, and/or eliminate. Using these criteria to judge and adapt the work will help you reduce the complexity of your workflow.

Here are some questions you need to ask in order to make changes and decide what will work best for what operation.

1. Merge or Parallel 

  • Are there redundant steps in your system? 
  • Would your system benefit from merging two or more steps? 
  • Are there steps that need to be done simultaneously instead of one waiting for the other to finish?

Many processes can be run simultaneously and will end up saving time. You need to find out which processes aren’t dependent on other steps or can be done together or by different people. If there are steps that seem to be doing the same thing then merging them as one will be beneficial, and so on.

2. Automate

  • Is there a series of steps you can automate? 
  • Are there parts of the process that can be performed with reduced human input? 
  • What solutions exist on the market? 
  • Can you leverage those without compromising output quality?

Automation is one of the most efficient ways of getting the most out of your resources. It helps you reduce the time spent on tasks that don’t require much addition, and your manpower can be used doing something of more substance.

3. Outsource

  • What steps in your process do you lack expertise in? 
  • Can you afford to hire and train new talent to perform them? 
  • If not, are you willing to outsource them to another company or an individual? 
  • Will you be able to afford to outsource?

Outsourcing is becoming an integral part of company workflow as startup culture rises. Hiring people who have expertise in their field can get expensive and isn’t always a practical option for startups, so, outsourcing is a great alternative. Instead of having experts on a full-time basis, you can bring them on a project basis. 

You have to calculate the costs of time and effort on your part. If your time can be better spent actually making strategists and working on it, then, by all means, find a way to outsource.

4. Eliminate

  • Are there unnecessary steps in your system? 
  • Are your people performing tasks that are of low value? 
  • Are there specific bottlenecks that have kept your process from running smooth? 
  • Will you benefit from replacing or removing them altogether? 

The processes or work direction that doesn’t bring you profit is something that you should eliminate. If you are someone stuck with something that doesn’t fit the current company vision and is a waste of human resources, then it will do the company well to eliminate it. The same is with the steps in any process, if they add no value, then get rid of them.

Final Thoughts

Zooming in on the steps of your workflow is a great way to analyze what steps are hogging your resources. Understanding your workflow and the areas that need work on is how you will know if you can afford to take a shortcut or declutter a clunky system.

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