There are exactly 45 business days remaining until that dreaded 30 June lodgement deadline. However, for others, their lodgement deadline may be earlier, giving them less time to organise their workflow (i.e., there are only 15 business days until 15 May).
Workflow management is a problem that each business regardless of the industry will always need to be mindful of.
Now remember, being mindful of your workflow and taking control of your workflow are two vastly different things.
Taking control involves setting a plan to ensure your service or product is delivered on time regardless of the current position you find yourself in.
Below are a few recommendations to help you control your workflow:
1. Work Backwards – Once a deadline has been set, to ensure it is possible for your team to meet the required deadline you need to work backwards and set a plan of what will be completed and when.
a) When you follow this process, it may be apparent that it is not possible for your team to meet the required deadline based on your current timeline.
b) This will therefore allow you to work out what changes need to be made to meet the deadline.
Example: In our business, all audits are completed within 5 days, and we never exceed this deadline no matter what time of the year it is and how busy we are. This requires our team to constantly monitor our workflow, COMMUNICATE at scheduled times throughout the day, and make changes to ensure no audit exceeds the 5-day deadline.
2. Invest in Training & Development – In order to increase the output of your business, you should set time aside to train and develop staff in certain areas of your business. This will help avoid “bottle necks” with certain tasks and allow for a more evenly spread workflow.
a) Training MUST be daily and repetitive.
b) Focus on topics that represent 80% of functions the team will be required to deliver on a daily basis.
i. Less frequent functions should be reserved for more senior staff.
ii. Two senior staff per infrequent topics with repetitive training
Example: In our business we have training DAILY on the same topic for 2 weeks. The attendees then run the training after the first week to confirm they understand the topic IN DETAIL. With a minimum of two people in the office who always understand complicated functions, the business can keep pressing forward where one of those staff members is on annual leave or away unexpectedly. Nothing stops.
3. Have a System to Track Workflow – It can be exceedingly difficult to track all the intricacies of your workflow if you do not have or use a system to help you with this.
a) Do not be afraid to use an external system or provider if you do not have the systems readily available internally.
Example: In our business, we built our very own Live Workflow Portal that allows us to track the progress of over 15,000 jobs at any given time, with date stamps, comments, and workload functions. The investment cost in a robust workflow system is far less than reputational risks associated with letting clients down from slow delivery.
4. Have Regular Workflow Meetings – You have set a deadline for a task, and you have the systems in place to monitor the progress. However, what we would still encourage you to do is have regular workflow meetings.
a. This will allow you to monitor if your team is on track or if changes are required with job allocations or client communications. Remember you do not want to miss the deadline!
Example: In our business we have workflow meetings with every staff member on Monday and Thursday. Monday to establish the plan for the week and Thursday to ensure the plan will be met. In addition to that, we have daily morning huddles per team to ensure regular communication.
5. Invest in Technology – Do not fall into the trap where you are not looking at new and innovative ways to complete your business functions. Technology is an amazing thing, and it is important you and your team set aside time frequently to review functions that can either be automated with technology or changed to be completed in a more efficient way.
Example: Our Seamless SMSF Workflow Portal is constantly being updated. We constantly ask, ‘how can this be better’ and have full-time resources reviewing and building specs for IT development.
If you currently have ‘holes’ within your current systems and want to implement change, we recommend you following these steps:
1. Identify and list any problems you have in your current workflow procedures.
2. Rate these problems from most to least significant.
3. Then determine for each hole what you need to do to implement or change and resolve the issue.
4. Implement each new process individually.
a) This is important as you want to be able to track what happens to your systems after the change was implemented.
i. Were other processes effected?
ii. Did it work without any problems?
5. Once you are satisfied with the implementation of the new process, move onto adding in the next proposed change.
Workflow systems are KEY to success in business. Having a plan around workflow and having a system to accurately monitor it again, are two vastly different things. Highly automated workflow systems have the effect of a ‘David Copperfield’ magic trick when compared to systems that are manual and clunky. If you rely on ‘Management’ to monitor and manage the workflow of your team, your workflow system is nothing short of ‘garbage.’ Poor workflow systems hamper scale and profit margin and does not empower your individual team members to manage THEMSELVES. Get your workflow system reviewed…..ASAP.