How can I improve my workflow

How can I optimize workflows?

Table of Contents

Fundamentals for optimizing workflows

Everyone knows situations in which one thinks: "How am I supposed to manage all of this?" Or "This activity costs me far too much time, does not generate any sales, but just has to be done". Potentials for time savings is always available. But why does it make sense to question work processes? Motifs there are several. In most cases, this is what entrepreneurs want theirs to do Increase sales. But a motif can also be more Time for other things to free up, or to get more fun at work to get.

The Pareto principle

If Pareto has its way, 20% of the invested working time yields 80% of the results. The same goes for sales. 20% of customers are for 80% of sales responsible. Therefore one should always try to shovel more time free for the "important 20%". If you want to find out more about the 80:20 rule, there are enough articles on the net, but also videos on Youtube and very good reading.

Those who live Pareto also know the potential for optimization.
Selection of the workflows to be optimized

Around Workflows To be able to optimize, these must first be analyzed at the work step level.

It is best to start with those who repeat themselves most often (recurring workflows), because the multiplication gives the greatest potential in the case of an optimization of the process. To do this, you create a table in which you list the individual processes in order to be able to calculate possible annual time savings after the analysis.

The table can look like this, but depending on the nature of the processes, it can make sense to make the table even more detailed:

workflowPossible savings through optimization in minutesfrequencySavings per year in minutes
Finding information25 times a day~500
Creating customers55 times a day~1250
Paper work63 times a day~900

The analysis

There are many ways to optimize workflows. So feel free to be creative in your analysis. In any case, it is important that you self-critical approach the matter.

Once you have decided on a process, ask yourself the following questions and try to find an answer:

  • How long do you need for this process?
  • How do you do this? Manually on paper, on the phone, or on the computer? Do you perhaps have software that you can use to carry out this process?
  • What work steps does this workflow consist of?
  • Which work steps are decisive for a successful workflow?
  • Which of these steps might be unnecessary, out of date, or outdated?
  • Which work steps can perhaps be simplified or summarized?
  • Which work steps hold up the most in some cases?
  • Where are the most sources of error in the process?

Once you've worked through these points, you should do a few Optimization measures as a result to have.

Here is a small example

Martina works in the office of a metal goods dealer and takes customer calls. Your workflow for most customer calls is as follows:

accept a callRecord customer inquiries and write them down on paper by handRecord customer data and write it down on paperto end a callCollect articles in the warehouseWriting invoice manuallyPack the itemSend articleCreate customers in customer profile
0.5 min5 min1 min0.5 min10 min5 min5 min3 min5 min

The entire workflow takes an average of 35 minutes.

It is noticeable that she still does a great deal by hand on paper. With a ready-made form, she could take in all the information faster and more efficiently. However, if she were already working with a CMS (Content Management System) on the computer, the data would be saved and archived immediately and she could save herself the step of "adding customers to customer files".

It is crucial for this process that no errors occur when the information is recorded. It could be that information is missing because it was not requested, or that a mistake was made in the note because it may no longer be legible after the phone call.

The former can be done with the help of a Checklist or one form to solve. The latter through the Use of software, because legibility is always given here and some of the fields are selection fields and not free text fields.

Work with forms and checklists. They help you to work faster and more efficiently.

Keeping customer files by hand is outdated and should only be done on the computer these days. This is on the one hand a quick access possible and on the other hand also a better overview given.

Writing invoices by hand can also take a lot of time and is also another source of errors. If Martina had a software in which she could have placed an order, she could also have one right away standardized invoice print out with all necessary data.

Through the Use of software the step "Record customer data" and the step "Create customer in customer profile" would be combined.

Martina would lose most of the time if she forgot to ask something when recording, or if she made a mistake in the notation. In the first case, if possible, she would have to call the customer back and ask for the forgotten information → An additional 5 minutes

Through a form or one Checklist such cases can be avoided.

In the second case it can happen, for example, that the package does not arrive at the customer due to an incorrect spelling of the address. → An additional 15 minutes

In the Use of software there is the possibility of one Address verification. If this address does not exist, it must be due to the spelling.

Result

With the Use of forms and checklists Martina could save 3 minutes and minimize the sources of error because she gets all the information faster. That would be approx. 10% optimization correspond.

With the introduction of a suitable software Martina would save 10 minutes per process, minimize sources of error, plus keep an overview of all data because she receives all information faster, has all customer data in the system and can immediately print out an invoice. That would be a Optimization of approx. 30% surrender. Depending on the frequency, this can result in savings of a few weeks in a year.

Once the optimization measures have been implemented and the "new" workflow has become routine again, you should check whether there are any more Optimization possibilities result, but also whether through certain measures negative side effects that have an impact on other processes, for example.

In the example of the metal goods trader, for example, the order could be put together automatically with a high-bay warehouse with the associated logistics. Of course, this only makes sense from a certain amount of article sales.


General tips for more time

There are also general measures that will generally save you time. According to the motto "it's all in the sum", you can save a lot of time in the long run if you follow the following tips:

Technical aids

Look that you one central filing system for your data. Ideally one that is tailored to your activities. Quickly finding the information you are looking for is one of the greatest potentials for saving time. Automate your work processes whenever possible. Instead of explaining the same thing over and over again, you could FAQs create, or a Explanatory video take up.

Surroundings

Take care of one clean workplace. So information can be found faster and there is also less distraction. Turn your cell phone into Airplane mode or banish it from the work zone, if your job permits. This will keep you focused and more focused. If possible, look for it quiet rooms to work. They are more likely to help you with that on the matter to stay. If that is not possible, try Headphones. It's not for everyone, but it works wonders for many.

Priority list

No matter how much time you have. Everything can rarely be done because the Work expands according to the amount of time available for completion. This phenomenon is called Parkinson's law. It is all the more important for our to-do's priorities to put, around better results to achieve. If there is too much work left, however, one should think about whether this work is really necessary. If so, the work can perhaps be delegated or automated.

No change between activities

Try the started activity to completion to stay. Frequent change of activities threatens Loss of valuable time. It therefore makes sense to reserve fixed working hours for certain activities. In order to be able to stick to your plan, it is important enough time for individual activities to plan, otherwise everyone will be halfway through.

Time log

Do you know what is costing you the most time, or what is your main concern? If not, you should at least get one for a while Time log of your work processes to lead. This enables you to assess which workflow has the greatest potential for optimization, but also to find out which activities you should better part with.


Summary
  • Analyze your work processes
  • In which work steps is there potential for optimization?
  • Ask yourself what are your time wasters, things that don't really help you achieve results. Say goodbye to these.
  • Always have Pareto in mind
  • Stick to the tips that will give you more time and efficiency.