In a recent blog post, I talked about how many business owners discover that they only use 20% of their software and tools to do 80% of the work. But why is it that we end up with tools that don’t offer full value for money?
The main reason we choose the wrong tools and systems is because we haven’t fully analysed our own workflows. After all, how can we choose the best workflow tool to support our processes if we don’t know what all those processes are?
Map out your workflows
Most businesses think they know their workflows until they actually document them.
Whenever I work with a client, I always want to start by visualising their business operations. Together, we build a process map of everything the business does. This is often an eye-opening experience. It shows the number of steps required for each task, it highlights any bottlenecks, inter-dependencies, and decision points.
The false economy of the quick fix
It can be tempting to find a solution that quickly fills an immediate functionality gap, but this often causes problems in the long term as you get busier and need to scale up productivity and reduce costs. The majority of the stand-alone tools you may use are priced per month and per user, which can sometimes escalate to almost the wage of a staff member.
The key business workflows
I want to share a list of the most central workflows of any operation. How many of these do you have in your business – and how many can you support?
1. CRM (Contact Relationship Management)
Conversations with clients, prospects, and suppliers will always be part of the day-to-day running of your business. But once you start analysing and categorising the different communications you have – or want to have – with people, you can make life easier for yourself by creating set templates and automating things like reminders, marketing communications, follow-ups and surveys.
2. Task management
Managing projects and tasks can look very different from one organisation to the next. Some projects are short and intense, while others carry on for years.
In either case, task management is a typical area where many organisations use clunky, stand-alone tools – or worse, spreadsheets. While your chosen tool might seem to do the job, you may be missing out on crucial things like integration with other applications in the business, smart calendar features, and automation.
3. Sales and forecasting
In a typical business, there’s plenty of room for improvement in the sales process. Each step towards a sale often has repeatable elements that can be automated, such as scheduling calls and appointments, sending email sequences, creating quotes, sending invoices and reminders, pre-empting future sales, and more.
Extracting data from various systems and producing progress reports can be boring as well as difficult. Many businesses produce and analyse management reports every month and every quarter, but still
don’t have a quick and easy way of doing it. Each time they have to search for the right data segments, copy them into spreadsheets or report templates, check and validate the information and create a summarised analysis. However, once a business owner discovers the power of instant dashboards and data visualisation, they never want to go back to their old ways!
Incoming support requests and queries from customers is a workflow that surprisingly many businesses haven’t documented. They simply deal with each issue in isolation, manually assigning support tasks to staff and typing email responses to the customer, when in fact this is a workflow in its own right which can – and should – be structured into a defined process. By using a combination of user-driven self-help tools and automated communications, the business can save a great deal of time and money.
6. Storage and filing
Filing documents can be a bit of a minefield. It’s easy to forget to save documents in the right place, with the right naming convention, for the right people to access. An automated workflow can make sure the data ends up where it needs to be at the right time, depending on the criteria you set.
Automate anything When it comes to automation, the sky really is the limit.
This is why we love helping business owners transform how they work through making operations simpler, faster, and more profitable.
You can automate pretty much anything where a ‘trigger, filter, and action’ sequence applies. The key thing is of course that you know what you want to achieve, and have a clear view of how each action impacts your business – with the help of a thorough process map!
Productivity is mobile
If you still haven’t taken action to shift all these tasks and operations to a fully mobile solution, now is the time to do that! In a ‘truly mobile’ business, everything you work on is safely stored in the cloud, ready for you and your team to access at any time and from any location.
That’s what productivity looks like.
Want to get a grip on your workflows?
Let’s work together on understanding your process landscape and find you the perfect workflow tool kit to support it. Book your session by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org today!