How to improve processes at work
Every organization knows that time is money. Extra time on tasks means higher wages paid out. Extra time to respond to messages and enquiries can lose customers and revenue. Technology has given us the power to be more efficient and productive. But with so many options and tools available, it can be overwhelming to know how to start. Here are tips for how to improve processes at work that you can start working on today.
First, take a moment to set goals. Be clear about the objectives. Do you want to reduce cost and space by going paperless? Or beat the competition by providing better customer experience? Maybe increase profit margins by improving processing time? Or simplify and streamline processes and procedures to be more efficient and easier?
Pick the people
One person will not know how to improve processes at work. Get the right people involved in this evaluation project. For example, front-line people will know first hand about customer processes. The finance staff best understand accounting software and reporting processes. Pick the people to contribute and encourage them to be honest and open in their review. After all, collaboration is key for organizational success!
Now that goals are clear, and you have the right people involved, start with identifying the different categories of processes in your organization. There are a range of businesses, community organizations, and nonprofits. However, most organizations have one or more of the following processes:
Customers. Processes to register new customers like intake forms, preference forms, and also contracts and agreements that require a signature.
Accounting. Setting up files for each customer, supplier, and employee. Also invoicing and payment reminders.
Human Resources. Application and hiring, onboarding and orientation, and then performance management processes.
Inventory Management. Counting stock, knowing when to reorder items, and keeping track of costs.
Communication. This can be internal, within your organization. It can also be external, such as newsletters, sales updates, announcements, customer service messages, and engagement.
Make a list
Once you have the categories of processes for your organization identified, now make a list. Looking at all the categories you created in the first step, list out every task, step, and process for your organization. This should be very detailed. Think about every exchange of information, agreement, and action. Also consider where it is going. For example, contact details and preferences on an intake form may need to flow to an accounting software program and into customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Map the processes
Now that you have everything listed, create a map of the processes. This is how to improve processes at work - to visually see the flow of information and activity. By seeing it all mapped out as a flow chart, it’s easy to analyze. Look for the following:
- Bottlenecks which increases wait time
- Duplication which slows processing time
- Data entry processes which increase mistakes. Did you know that human error in
- data entry is estimated to cost American businesses $3 trillion a year?
- Opportunities to make a process easier and faster for customers
Brainstorm and decide
By now, there may already be a list of ways to improve processes in your organization. A brainstorming session with the team will generate more ideas to save time, money, paper, and steps. Check in with the goals set out at the beginning, to get grounded on what should be the priority. This will guide the decision on what process can be improved first, and exactly how to execute that.
3 tips for how to improve processes at work
Be patient. Change is hard! It will take time for the team to learn new technology and adapt to the new processes. Understand that people require an adjustment period to form new habits.
Evaluate regularly. Measure and compare KPIs and important metrics. Think of everything being impacted by the process improvement changes - customer satisfaction, data entry errors, processing time, wait time, and costs of paper and ink.
Be open to making changes. Process improvement is ongoing. If the process of evaluation and feedback suggests making a change, go with it. Follow the same steps to Switching to digital forms and contracts are a proven way to improve processes at work. Paperless Forms integrates with existing software for seamless and efficient data management. Start with our free forever plan today