Improving processes make everyday tasks easier and faster, employees more productive and satisfied and they help keep our eye on the main game: boosting revenue.
Every business will invest in ways to improve processes at some point. However, what is important to understand is that process improvement isn't a set-and-forget task. It is something that is continuously evolving and iterating as the needs and goals of your business change. What worked well once, may actually be quite ineffective tomorrow. However, this can be a little confusing for managers - to suddenly experience some negative business outcomes that suddenly arise from the same behaviours as always.
When things are going wrong and you’re not quite sure why, sometimes a little process review is required. This post is designed to help you understand when that’s the case, and make some moves to remedy the situation.
5 signs your business needs to improve processes
1. You don’t have complete oversight over the workflow
Are your business processes still running from the humble spreadsheet? Spreadsheets are great for running projects in the early days of an initiative. However, when it gets to the point where multiple spreadsheets are being used across different processes, there is suddenly little consistency in the way processes are run and you’re struggling to get a bird’s eye view, it may be a sign you’ve outgrown it.
The bottom line: When spreadsheets multiply uncontrollably, experience version control issues and send people up the wrong path, you have found yourself an opportunity for improving processes.
2. Data errors
Are employees receiving data, whether internally or externally, which they are then manually entering into a system? This time consuming task is fraught with the risk of human error. The smallest of typos can create hours of work investigating, correcting the initial error, and repairing the damage caused. The true cost of manual data entry might be bigger than you think.
Similarly, if your software solutions and applications are not on speaking terms, your employees are probably manually taking information from one system and entering it into another. For example:
- Updating customer status in your CRM after receiving an email
- Receiving an attachment via email and manually uploading it to your team's document storage system
- Starting a to-do list in Evernote only to recreate in your project management software
- Creating events in your calendar and then adding them to your Intranet or messaging system
- Receiving document feedback on an old version and making those edits to the current version of the document
As with any manual data entry task, this work is time-consuming, repetitive, and increases the risk of human error.
The bottom line: If your organisation is still manually entering data across multiple systems, it could well be time to improve your processes.
3. Paper wars
Look around your workplace, are there stacks of paper, walls of filing cabinets and overflowing desk drawers packed with documents? Heavy use of paper-based systems probably means your processes are still being done manually. While in many industries, paper-based processes are still required, they can be combined with sound document management to prevent lost documents, poor version control and a big carbon footprint.
The bottom line: If your organisation is still heavily reliant on paperwork, it may be time to implement some complementary digital processes.
4. Repeated complaints about the same issue
Are you receiving repeated complaints around the same issue? Whether from employees or customers, repeated issues can signify a process breakdown. Here are some such complaints:
- I find it difficult to access and leverage knowledge from different departments
- I've spoken to three different departments and still don't have an answer to my query
- I can't find the leave/purchase order/change request form
- I don't know where document XYZ is for the team meeting
- The approval is stuck and I can't move forward without it
The bottom line: If you're hearing a complaint repeatedly, it's a sure-fire sign that a process is broken.
5. Work duplication and version control stress
Do your employees struggle to know which version of the document is most up to date? Or are they spending inordinate amounts of time managing perfect version control records manually? It's not news that version control is important to avoid duplicating work and double handling, but even in an exemplary manual system, human error can still occur. The more revisions, versions and people involved, the higher the chances something will go amiss and an error will result. Plus, it is very stressful not having certainty that you’re working from the right document.
The bottom line: If your company is still using manual version control methods or there is a lot of work duplication occurring, your document management system might need a re-think.
Are any or all of these signs familiar? Then it’s time to start improving processes in your organisation. If you’re wondering where to start, think about onboarding a document management solution.
Choosing the right printer and device infrastructure to support productivity and growth in hybrid workplaces can be challenging. Download our Comprehensive Guide to Digital Workplaces to learn how to equip your organisation for collaboration, mobility and productivity in the new era of work.