How to Save Hours in a Day by Structuring & Automating Your Workflows

Apr 01, 2019

This blog post is part 3 of a 3 part training series on how to create a business foundation to allow for future growth, if you haven’t read parts 1 and 2 yet, start here! Watch the corresponding video for this post here.

You can’t truly succeed without great documentation, especially not when running complex operations and business structure.

What am I talking about? Understanding your workflows, understanding the different tasks in your business, the dependencies between them, the goals behind them and what’s actually getting done in any given day, week or month.

Today's topic is a controversial one. Controversial for the ones that haven’t quite grasped the importance of it yet … so before deep diving into the HOW let me start with the WHY and give you 4 very strong reasons why documentation is absolute key.

1. Identify Inefficiencies

As you go through every single process in your company you will fast uncover inefficiencies within each workflow, unnecessary steps, cross dependencies you weren’t aware of and especially the potential of saving loads and loads of hours by automating tasks and using tools to do the tasks for you instead of you having to do them all. This done right will save you several hours every day.

2. Create Consistently High Standards for All Clients

If you want someone to do a certain task the most efficient way possible for you is to document it ONCE. This way none of your employees need you to perform the task again because they know exactly what needs to be getting done.

Documenting your processes like this ensures efficiency and especially consistency, because everyone will perform the task in exactly the same way. No longer will you need to fear that clients are unsatisfied because certain deliverables aren’t ready or tasks are only half way done. This kind of standardization between processes ensures everyone in your organization is working towards the same outcome, leading to a consistent customer service experience.

3.  Faster New Hire Onboarding

Maybe you are not there yet … but let me tell you onboarding new team members COULD be a pain because it could take quite a while for them to work independently. Well with process documentation you can say goodbye to having new team members shoulder tapping you every minute of the day.

This means that less time is taken up trying to get them up to speed on how things are done because it’s all in the documentation for them to see, rather than hidden in someone’s mind.

4. You Make More Money

We all know that time is money. Thus the faster and more consistently you can complete tasks, the more you can get done.

If this sounds great to you, which surely it does, but you are now thinking: “This is totally something that I will need ONCE I grow because Jenny I don’t have a whole sales team, I don’t have a marketing department”

Let me step in right here: Aren’t those the things that you want at some point?

Exactly. So set the standards now for how you operate your business and once your business grows your structure and standards will grow with them. So surely the earlier you start, the better!

5 Steps to Documenting and Streamlining Our Processes

Step 1: Start with a business workflow inventory

So you want to list all of the processes / workflows tasks that you and your team follow to do your daily work. Be thorough. Even if it seems like a simple or routine process and super easy and straightforward for you, it comes on the list.

Step 2: Prioritise your processes

Motto here is: ONE BITE AT A TIME.

Looking at a big list like this can totally be overwhelming and obviously writing workflow descriptions is also not your full time job. So we need to prioritise what is most important.

Consider the following questions:

  • What will make a direct and positive impact on customer service?
  • Which processes relate to a company goal for the year?
  • Which processes am I spending most of my time on?

Depending on how long your list is in the first place, come up with the 5-10 processes that you defined as an immediate priority. And don’t get confused, many processes are often interrelated or dependent on each other.

Step 3: Break them down

Take the 5-10 processes with the highest priority and break them down into discrete steps, the more granular you can be the better.

If you need visualisation, draw the process out. Make sure to note any dependencies (e.g. this step can only take place if head of marketing gave this and this KPI) and every person involved in the process.

Step 4: Streamline or automate those workflows

Look at each individual workflow, at every different step and make sure that this is the only way it can be done. You might be surprised to hear that between 60-80% of all the tasks that we do manually can actually be automated … and this can be easier than we think.

A lot of your manual processes will be solved using softwares like Zapier on a frequent basis. It’s incredible what rules you can set for different tasks and have them completely taken out of your hands… and yes it might mean spending some time thinking about them but then you do this ONCE and are done with it.

Step 5: Repeat and refine

Now that you got the most important ones done, hopefully having a whole lot of tasks automated, saving you hours every single week … go back to the drawing board and start at step 1 to get all of the workflows done.

Ideally you want every area from accounting to marketing to sales written down into a process. But take it step by step and keep the overwhelm low, never forgetting what the ultimate goal is and the advantage of operating from a place of structure and foundation.

Final words

I hope you enjoyed this little 3 part training series on creating a foundation that allows for future growth.

One thing is super important to me: Reading all of this is great, implementing is even better. Nothing will ever happen if we are stuck in consumption mode, keep reading, keep listening to other people’s advice but never actually take time to sit down and do it. So schedule time in your calendar to go through the different tasks and make sure to follow them.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at [email protected] and I will talk to you soon!

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