Improve Your Sleeping Schedule With Workflow Optimization

SUMMARY
Enhance performance with workflow optimization & get more sleep! Learn how to streamline your processes for maximum results. More in the blog.
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Being a project manager is no walk in the park.

For one thing, you've got the never ending Mt. Everest of paperwork to deal with on the regular. And you've got to oversee the entire project's progress, ensuring all tasks are completed on time and the quality of deliverables is high-quality. Not to mention, you also have to monitor each team member's performance and well-being!

It's no wonder managers often work overtime, making their sleep (what's that) schedule haywire.

Ugh!

But, did you know that you don't have to sacrifice your sleep for work?

We're not trying to make you laugh. Wryly.

It's most definitely possible.

With continuous technological advancements, project teams can optimize their processes and workflows without needing a manager's 100 percent supervision.

See how that could potentially save you some precious shut-eye?

The question is — how?

With the right tech stack.

There are many software packages and tools on the market today that allow for workflow automation and optimization. This means these programs and tools do the job for you instead of team members.

What a great way to save time and resources!

A successful digital agency project manager beginning the process of workflow optimization.
A successful digital agency project manager beginning the process of workflow optimization.

For example, many services use AI chatbots to address customer concerns. These chatbots have a selection of common customer concerns that we can choose from, and each selection has a pre-programmed script it follows to solve them. With these chatbots, team members can focus more on crucial tasks, saving much time and effort.

The automation of workflow, particularly repetitive tasks, is a great path to business growth and profitability.

Before you can get started, you must first know what exactly should be optimized, and how to do it. To help you understand workflow optimization better, continue reading below!

Let's Make Sure We Properly Understand Workflow Optimization

Hold up! We know you're itching to start building a streamlined workflow, but you must first understand the concept. This is crucial before taking any steps, because you want to optimize the wrong process!

So, what's workflow optimization?

In simple terms, it's the use of strategies, methodologies, and tactics to increase the efficiency of processes, from administrative to industrial and beyond, completed within the organization.

First, you need to assess your business workflows. Then you remove any bottlenecks and inefficiencies you've identified.

A business owner uses workflow optimization to increase efficiency and create growth opportunities.
A business owner uses workflow optimization to increase efficiency and create growth opportunities.

Many businesses have dabbled in optimization for better workflow management. Some examples of successful workflow optimization that will fuel your business growth include:

  • Automation of data entry
  • Inventory management
  • Streamlining CRM
  • Payroll automation
  • Sales automation (processing purchase orders, creating invoices, notifying and collecting payments)
  • Procurement and payment process automation

Let's cover the benefits these workflow optimizations will net for your company next.

Top workflow optimization benefits

Through workflow optimization, multiple benefits can be gained, including the following:

Reduced costs

Workflows cost us financial resources. For example, we pay team members who do the work, and any software or tools they use to complete their tasks.

However, if we want to scale our agency, we need to know how to reduce cost inefficiencies. Through workflow optimization, we can eliminate the need to hire new employees just to get a time-suck, yet necessary, process completed. We can rely on automation for these processes and only have to pay the providers for the services.

Minimize human errors

"To err is human," or so they say. But when scaling an agency, errors should be out of the picture.

A digital agency project manager uses workflow optimization to reduce errors caused by miscalculations and data misinterpretations.
A digital agency project manager uses workflow optimization to reduce errors caused by miscalculations and data misinterpretations.

This is where workflow optimization comes into its own.

Automated processes reduce the incidence of errors, as repeatable outputs are produced with tools. We don't need to manually enter data or calculate numbers, which increase the chances of mistakes.

Through workflow optimization, we can ensure that outputs are accurate, which can help us make more informed decisions about the project.

Plus, new employees won't make frequent mistakes as they have tools to help them accomplish the task!

Increased efficiency

Workflow optimization aims to decrease bottlenecks in our processes, thereby increasing efficiency. It's one of the main reasons why agencies optimize. After all, we want to shorten processing times without sacrificing output quality.

Bottlenecks are tasks or stages that delay the progress or completion of subsequent tasks and dependencies. This reduces the pace of the entire project, causing us to miss deadlines and disappoint clients.

By removing bottlenecks, we can ensure a smooth sailing workflow, allowing us to accomplish tasks and projects in less time.

Better resource utilization

With multiple projects being handled simultaneously, many teams face the problem of overloading. This leads to overworked employees, which can increase the risk of output errors and project delays. We can solve this problem through workflow optimization.

By optimizing workflows, we can take our minds off repetitive tasks and focus more on urgent and important ones. This allows us to efficiently allocate workload to team members for improved productivity and efficiency.

In short, successful workflow optimization creates an efficient and productive agency. It aims for better workflow management and helps foster better customer relationships for our ultimate goal — business growth.

Juliana, How Do I Improve My Current Workflows? Assess and Analyze!

Agencies have different workflows that work together to keep them running. However, if we're planning to optimize workflows, we must identify the right ones to optimize. After all, we don't want to waste our resources, right?

Before we can start optimizing, the first step is to assess our processes. This allows us to see the full picture of how processes are working step-by-step. This also helps us identify inefficiencies in real-time as each process runs.

In assessing workflows and processes, here are some agencies' best practices:

  • Note how different processes work together, including how one process leads to another.
  • Visualize workflows to get a better picture of how processes work.
  • Get team members' feedback on common obstacles they face when completing workflows. These obstacles may be the bottlenecks that lengthen process time.
  • Look out for tasks that don't add value to the agency and those that don't require human-level decision-making.

Assessing workflows enables us to find what's working and what's not. This allows us to automate (or, in some cases, eliminate) any manual processing so we can focus on more critical, strategic tasks.

Where to Begin? Simple. Set Clear Objectives

Now that we know how each business process works, we can proceed with the next step — setting clear objectives.

We should know why we're optimizing workflows in the first place. Are we trying to reduce costs? Or are we optimizing to increase efficiency in our processes?

A project manager using objectives listed on a white board as guidance for how to approach the optimization process.
A project manager using objectives listed on a white board as guidance for how to approach the optimization process.

When we are clear about our goals, we can identify and prioritize the most essential components of our workflows. This allows us to easily develop strategies and apply methodologies that can help us streamline workflows.

However, our goals for optimizing workflows must still be aligned with our overall business goals. If we move away from them, we might risk stakeholders' trust. Or worse — waste time and resources.

Now, What Does the Optimal Workflow Look Like?

Many digital agencies try to optimize their processes, but not all succeed. The success of workflow optimization lies in how we create and implement it.

It's crucial that we carefully think about our plan of action when optimizing workflows. After all, processes take several steps and involve different team members. If we don't consider every necessary factor, the optimization might turn out the opposite of what we planned.

Here are the steps we should take to help us create the optimal workflow for our agency:

Map out tasks and their dependencies.

This is the first step and the most crucial part of building our optimized workflow.

We can use visualization tools in mapping out tasks and dependencies to clearly show which are affected by pending tasks and which are not. Through this step, we can quickly determine which processes and components can be optimized.

Allocate resources efficiently

The next step is strategizing how we'll distribute our team's workload.

Each team member has a unique skill set and availability. While some may be suited for all tasks, not everyone can perform the job well. This is why we need to carefully evaluate each member's abilities and match them with the tasks involved in the process.

We also need to consider their availability. After all, we want to avoid overloading, that's a big reason why we're optimizing!

Leverage technology and automation tools

Businesses and digital ad agencies have long benefitted from technology in their processes. It allows them to provide goods and services to customers, which helps them grow. However, we can also use technology and automation to optimize processes. There are many workflow software packages available in the market right now that can help us automate different manual processes. Each software has unique features, some of which may suit our processes and meet our needs.

Maintain a Healthy Routine through Collaboration and Communication

Just like with any other business, collaboration and effective communication are a must in digital agencies. They help us foster a culture of teamwork, develop clarity of roles, and aid in achieving consistency in deliverables and outputs.

So, how do we truly create a collaborative and communicative digital agency?

It's simple:

Technology!

Many workflow software packages also have built-in communication tools that allow us to share details and info regarding processes.

Of course, we can also use traditional methods such as office announcement boards, but digital communication channels will allow us to have a far wider reach. Compared to these boards, emails and apps such as Slack and Teams are much better able to help us connect with other employees, even those who work remotely!

An agency team collaborating and gathering insights from each other to improve efficiency.
An agency team collaborating and gathering insights from each other to improve efficiency.

In short, having accessible communication channels enables teams to collaborate with one another. They can share insights and brainstorm on how to improve processes. This paves the way for helpful suggestions, and the agency will become a great place to work and work with.

Set Your Alarm for Feedback

Have you ever wondered how successful optimization plans become, well, successful? It's because managers are open to feedback.

While there's no doubt that project managers oversee the optimization process, they don't work with the process directly. It's the team members who exert the effort to get the job done. This is why their feedback is so important — they know the process and workflow like the back of their hands.

Team members asking for feedback to determine what’s working in their optimization plan and what isn’t to further improve the process.
Team members asking for feedback to determine what’s working in their optimization plan and what isn’t to further improve the process.

As managers, we're responsible for knowing every nook and cranny of our processes if we want to optimize them. If we've already developed a blueprint for optimization, we can test it to see how it performs in real-time. Then, we can ask our members how they feel about the optimized process and take note of their feedback.

Who knows, they might have concerns we haven't seen yet or helpful insights we never considered.

In creating the optimal workflow, we need to regularly conduct reviews and ask for feedback from team members and other stakeholders. This way, we can adjust accordingly for optimum efficiency.

Finally, Celebrate Your Success. And get a great night's sleep.

Congratulations! We've now successfully created an optimized process! Job well done!

But wait, it doesn't end there. We still need to ensure our process has been optimized. But how can we do that?

Measuring.

Through evaluating and measuring the results of our optimization, we can determine if it's really a success or not. Here, we can incorporate certain KPIs.

For example, if we want to optimize our customer service process, we can measure its success by determining how long it takes to resolve tickets or concerns.

So, if the average time to close tickets before optimization was 2.5 hours, and after optimization, it dropped to just an hour, then we can say it was a success. At least on the surface. However, we still need to look at certain factors, such as customer satisfaction, to determine whether it's actually successful to its core.

So, remember to set specific criteria to get a clearer picture of the optimization results.

A project manager gathers specific criteria on a post-it board to objectively measure and determine if the workflow optimization is successful.
A project manager gathers specific criteria on a post-it board to objectively measure and determine if the workflow optimization is successful.

Now that we've covered all the necessary details about workflow optimization, it's time to reiterate its importance. We know that optimization allows us to manage our workflows better to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and minimize errors. All these benefits lead to one essential aspect of managing project teams— independence.

Efficient workflows enable teams to work on their own, even without the supervision of their immediate manager. This means  they understand the tasks clearly and the expectations that come with them.

When you develop project teams this way, you ensure more successful projects, regardless of their complexity or size.

In short, we can create a digital agency powerhouse through efficient workflows.

A recap in a satisfactorily sleepy nutshell.

Here's a recap of what we've learned about workflow optimization:

  • Workflow optimization uses different strategies, methodologies, and tactics to increase process efficiency in the agency. It aims to remove any bottleneck that prolongs processes and delays project completion.
  • Agencies benefit from workflow optimization by reducing costs, improving efficiency, minimizing errors, and allocating resources better.
  • Assess existing workflows before optimizing. This can give managers a clear view of how processes work and where bottlenecks may arise.
  • Use objectives to guide the process. Objectives should be clear and aligned with the overall organizational goals for effective optimization.
  • Optimal workflows considers every task and dependency involved. t also allows efficient resource allocation while using technology and tools.
  • Collaboration and communication enable a smooth workflow. When teams collaborate and communicate, they have an idea of where the process is currently at and identify issues that may arise.
  • Regular process workflow reviews create opportunities for feedback. This feedback is crucial as it may give way to more opportunities for improvement.
  • Measuring the optimization results is a great way to determine its success. Managers need to create a specific set of criteria to measure the optimization process objectively.

Eager to turn these insights into action? Download our free project management checklist, and elevate your agency's efficiency to new heights. Get optimizing and craft workflows that are not just effective, but extraordinary for your business growth!

Business operations consultant Juliana Marulanda
Juliana
Juliana Marulanda is a business operations expert, speaker, and the founder of ScaleTime. With over 20 years of experience across Wall Street, the non-profit sector, technology startups, and family-owned businesses, she now helps service-based businesses.