In this day and age, to remain a competitor in your industry you must be able to continually provide quick yet high-quality products and services to your clients. If customers have to wait longer than necessary or receive services that are less than satisfactory, it ruins your reputation and causes your potential revenue to decline. Though there are a lot of factors that play into providing fast and quality services to your clients, having an efficient office workflow is a great place to start.
What is Office Workflow?
Your office workflow is essentially a series of steps required from start to finish required to provide a product or service to a client. Depending on what type of business you operate, this process can involve several steps and various departments or team members to complete. If the order of things doesn’t flow smoothly, it leaves room for error, wastes time, and diminishes the quality of products and/or services you’re providing to your clients.
Improving Office Workflow
As the idea is to continue providing quality and efficient services to your client base, small business owners must develop a plan to improve workflow within the office. Below are a few suggestions on how to master this:
Review the Current Processes
Before you can make improvements to office workflow you need to have a clear understanding of how everything currently functions. You need to create a list of all processes each employee or department is responsible for. Evaluate how these processes work from intake to completion to get a better understanding of where some of your issues may lie.
Consult with Staff
Your staff is largely responsible for the day to day operations in the office. Therefore, you need to get their input on how current processes work and where they see issues or need more assistance. Hold a staff meeting or speak with managers and key employees to get their input on office workflow.
Find Suitable Solutions
You now have a clear understanding of the office workflow. You’ve analyzed the processes and talked with key staff members to find out what works and what doesn’t. Now, you’re ready to begin looking for suitable solutions to streamline processes and improve productivity. While these solutions will be specific to your office needs, here are some common solutions that have helped to enhance office workflow:
Communication – In order for a project to be completed, employees must be able to effectively communicate with clients, co-workers, vendors, and other key players to keep workflow moving. Outside of having office numbers and email accounts, you might implement a more efficient method of communication like the use of online chat programs where all employees can log in and communicate in real-time.
Scheduling – From phone meetings and in-person meetings with clients, scheduling is often an intricate part of the workflow. To reduce the confusion around scheduling appointments, business owners might want to implement schedule management software that can be used both in-house and by clients to book appointments more efficiently.
File/Document Managing – Keeping records of files and documents is often a necessary part of office workflow. Whether it’s outgoing/incoming correspondence, contracts, vendor information, or an actual project for clients (i.e. reports, sketches, etc), keeping them in order, secure, and easily accessible is a must. If your business hasn’t already done so, converting to cloud solutions like cloud storage accounts or online word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software is recommended. This allows necessary parties from the clients to your employees to easily create, update, edit, retrieve, and share pertinent files.
Project Management – For offices that handle more involved projects that require more than one person’s input and effective communication across the board, investing in project management software is recommended to streamline processes. Such software allows all members to see the status of the project, review financial or client information, provide updates, and communicate in real-time.
Train and Test
After you have decided which solutions are best suited to help streamline processes and improve office workflow it the final stages will be to train your employees on new processes and strategies and the put the new methods to use testing for efficiency and looking out for errors or issues that need to be corrected.
If you’re going to continue providing quality products and services to your clients, a periodic evaluation of workflow and workplace productivity is a must. By continually streamlining processes, your staff is able to work more efficiently and can execute goals in a more timely fashion. If you haven’t done so already, now is the perfect time to put the above-discussed advice to work to save your company time, money, and resources while also continuing to provide outstanding customer service.