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Automated Workflow: Short & Sweet Best Practices
Posted: July 16, 2019
In a perfect world, you would set up an automated workflow for nearly every process or task and then never worry about it again.
But it’s an imperfect world and workflows, like everything else, need time and attention to work as they should. Delays and bottlenecks happen, approvals don’t happen on time and files get mis-filed.
That should not discourage you from implementing and automating workflows as best you can. When they work, they really do make your job easier.
Here are a few tips and best-practices; I hope they help make your work life just a little bit easier.
1. Plan, Map & Prioritize
Plan, map and prioritize your workflow. Things can get complicated. There are a LOT of moving parts and multiple steps. Map the workflow to plan out the “who, what, when and where”. Dive right in – maybe on some post-it notes that you can physically arrange and rearrange on your desk. Once it’s done, put it in writing so everyone involved can see it. Which steps are integral to the job at hand?
Remember, it’s really important to plan out how each step impacts the process and make sure that the people involved understand that the workflow depends on them getting their tasks accomplished on time. Bottlenecks and delays affect the final outcome.
2. Automate Repeating Tasks
What do you do again and again? Is there a way to automate the process or even one or two steps in the process? Taking the time to set up automations will save you time and energy in the long run. Talk with your team and get their input; brainstorming is a great way to problem solve.
3. Search Out Bottlenecks
There will be bottlenecks; try not to be one! Do the people responsible for each step understand how their role impacts the process? Give each person the tools they need to get their task done. Make sure that they are receiving the correct notifications – especially if notifications are automatic.
Check in with your team to make sure the workflow works. Listen to their input and ideas.
4. Always Have a Back-Up Plan
Always add steps for “failures”. What if something is not approved on time, or the draft needs extensive edits? Things go wrong. “Expect the unexpected” is wise advice. Plan for the most likely eventualities and you’ll be able to remain calm when things don’t go according to plan.
5. Learn From Your Mistakes
There will be mistakes and hidden challenges. Plan for failures and make sure you learn from them. Reevaluate the process and update when necessary. Optimize the workflow if it is not flowing. Departures, promotions, and adding new staff members should initiate a process review.
6. Use Workflow Automations to Your Advantage
You’ve heard it; work smarter, not harder. Embrace workflow automations. If you put in the effort, you will reap the benefits. You won’t exactly get to set and forget, but you will see that automations do free-up a lot of your workload.
Like what you’re reading? Connect with us on LinkedIn to comment!
6 Ways Workflow Technology Can Help You
Posted: July 3, 2019
Have you ever stopped to think about how much simpler your workday could be if only you could streamline your workflow and reduce the wait times between hand offs? That’s something that the VirPack team considers every single day. Slowing down the constant barrage of meetings, phone calls, and emails – not to mention searches for missing documents – is not just another fantasy. With the right tools you can automate some of the day-to-day tasks that can bog you down.
Here are 6 Ways Workflow Technology can simplify and improve your work life:
1. Gain better engagement from your team
Workflow tools make communication more efficient, both for team members that share an office, and for those employees who are geographically dispersed. Automatically generated alerts keep the team updated on projects and a good dashboard allows teams to work together as a unit.
With the rise of remote workers dramatically increasing year over year, the idea of having everyone “on the same page” is going to be more important than ever.
2. Establish better accountability
A good workflow technology tool allows each task to be assigned to a specific person or team. This provides clarity and transparency for who is supposed to be working on each piece of a project. People assigned to tasks and projects are alerted to important deadlines, but if someone is unexpectedly unavailable, the rest of the team can easily see that in the dashboard and make adjustments to complete the project on time.
A good workflow technology provides both accountability as well as flexibility for your department.
3. Reduce the time it takes to process
Workflow technology increases your productivity by reducing processing time, while also improving the quality of your services. This is a huge win for team members, managers, and clients alike. When team members can follow the progression of projects and tasks via a dashboard, they save time because they are no longer distracted by countless emails and calls about the work.
When you reduce emails, calls, and meetings, you give your team members more time to focus on the project at hand.
4. Reduce manual labor, automate repeat tasks
Automation is another business trend that’s becoming more mainstream; automating predictable tasks and refining team collaboration dramatically improves processes. The ability to automatically route contracts, proposals, and plans to the right customer or team member saves a lot of time and frustration for all employees and keeps your business running like clockwork.
Most importantly, it gives your team members time to devote to more strategic, innovative work. This will keep them happier, more engaged, and more innovative throughout their work.
5. Leverage better recordkeeping without the stress
The ability to view the history of a document, project or task with just the click of a button, saves time and makes your team more efficient. Good workflow technology allows you to see what is happening, and when it happened, at a glance. Having a tool that alerts you to missing files and impending deadlines automatically increases performance and efficiency.
You’re less likely to have things “slip through the cracks” during your busy periods when you have a workflow tool to keep track of it for you.
6. Avoid failed handoffs, route documents and automate processes
The right tool enables easy document routing. It should give you the ability to formulate rules for each step of a process and determine how work will be processed, routed, and tracked.
Rules-based tasks like automatically generated emails that follow specific milestones will simplify the day-to-day and keep the process flowing.
Like what you’re reading? Connect with us on LinkedIn to comment!
5 KEY PRODUCTIVITY TIPS
Posted: June 27, 2019
It’s almost the 4th of July. We’re all looking forward to taking a day or two off to enjoy the sunshine and a backyard BBQ – but many of us are going to be stuck at our desks until the 4th finally comes.
So here are 5 tips to help reinvigorate you and help you be more productive while you wait for the fireworks.
1. Make a to-do list that’s manageable
Many times we set out to create a list and suddenly we’re swamped by every little task and subtask we forgot we needed to do. Before we know it, the list is huge and we’re demotivated. Try chunking tasks into manageable to do lists. Consider making one mini list to focus on before noon and one mini list for the afternoon. Feel that rush as you start to check tasks off.
2. Stop multitasking
It’s hard. We all do it. But science still proves that we can’t. Instead, use the Pomodoro Technique to manage your time into 25-minute segments. You can even use this free online timer.
3. Gain perspective by measuring tasks
there are lots of ways you can track what you’re working on. One tool we like is Toggl – it’s free and you can set it up to track whatever you’re working on. Think that getting to “inbox zero” will only take you 20 minutes? Toggl it. Then, help yourself prioritize with REAL data on how long tasks take you to complete.
4. Inbox Zero your email
Try tackling your inbox by deleting, delegating, responding, deferring or doing. You can learn more here about “Inbox Zero”.There are also 7 more tips on how to effectively manage your email.
5. KonMari your desk
Haven’t you heard of Marie Kondo? Watch this video with the clutter guru herself. Productivity can really get a boost after you’ve prepared your mental space by tidying up your physical space.
Now, pick any one of these – and get started!
What are your best tips for staying productive before a long holiday weekend? Connect with us on LinkedIn to comment!
EMPOWER YOUR TEAM FOR GREATER PRODUCTIVITY
By Wayland Pond, Chief Operating Officer of VirPack
Posted: June 12, 2019
In today’s market, it’s crucial for every member of your team to be working as efficiently and effectively as possible. But, what are the best ways to empower them? Here are a few suggestions we’ve seen through our business and through watching our customers grow that we believe are the best way to empower productivity within your organization.
1. Build a Foundation That Fosters Productivity
A culture of empowerment, trust and accountability lays a solid foundation for a productive team and a successful enterprise. Organizations thrive when employees feel they can take initiative and think outside of the box– especially when the fear of failure is removed.
2. Unleash Your Team’s Potential
Empowered employees are dedicated, loyal and exponentially more productive than disengaged staff. Given the tools and resources necessary to successfully manage projects and tasks, employees will work toward their goals with great energy and enthusiasm.
3. Trust Your Staff
Demonstrate trust by giving employees a sense of autonomy – it’s good for business. Employees who know that you have put your faith in them come to work motivated to make an impact. Instead of punching the clock, they are incredibly productive and they work to help position the rest of the team and the company for sustained success.
4. Create a Culture of Accountability & Responsibility
Discerning managers give employees clear directions and make them responsible for accomplishing the tasks delegated to them – without micromanagement. Giving staff responsibility for goals and deliverables creates a culture of accountability.
5. Encourage Your Team To Take Calculated Risks
Don’t let the fear of failure hold your staff back. People learn a lot from analyzing their failures, making changes, and then trying again. When your staff doesn’t fear failure, they are more willing to try new things that lead to increases in productivity, too.
What are your best tips for empowering productivity? Connect with me on LinkedIn to comment!