Whether you’re creating a new process for onboarding vendors, or putting together a flow for orienting new employees, having a clear workflow is extraordinarily beneficial to you, your team, and your organization.
With a clear process, things can move more automatically, much more smoothly, and you don’t lose track of where things are at.
When you’re looking to build a new process, here are a 7 things to keep in mind to make things go more smoothly:
Map it Out
Creating a new process can be daunting. A lot of moving parts, and various areas of activity and decision-making. It’s difficult to get your head around!
To make things easier, start with a pencil, not a word document. Processes are naturally visual, and sketching them out will help enormously.
Your sketches don’t have to be pretty, just enough to get you to think through the whole process, end-to-end, so you can be sure you’ve covered all the bases.
For more on how to map processes, including symbols you can use and different types of maps, check out this blog post from SmartDraw.
Just remember, the more simple you can keep it, the better, so don’t get too complicated too fast!
Collaborate With Colleagues
When you’re putting together a new process, it often ends up touching other people in the organization. Maybe you get a submission for a conference talk, and you need to send it to the conference chair for approval, before emailing the person who submitted it back. Ensure you’re talking to that person about the best way to get that information to them, and what those hand-offs look like.
Working with your colleagues on these new processes will help do a few things: find things you hadn’t otherwise thought of, provide some additional perspective to the overall process, and perhaps most importantly, give your organization more buy-in to what you’re creating, meaning rolling it out will go much more smoothly.
Automate Where You Can
With any process, there are bound to be tasks in the process that are repetitive. Maybe you have to process a payment for everyone that goes through the workflow, or send a confirmation email to everyone who finishes. Regardless of what the task is, if you have to do it more than once, find a way to automate it!
Automating these parts of your process helps you focus on the bigger picture, and saves you a ton of time by reducing the amount of repetitive work you have to do. Additionally, it provides a more consistent and better experience for the people going through your process, meaning your brand looks more organized and on top of things.
Ease The Organization In
If you’re creating a process that touches a few people in your organization, make sure to ease them into it, so you have a better chance of them adopting this new way of doing this.
People tend to get set in their ways about their work, and if your process impacts this, it’s likely to be met with resistance, meaning your process could fail as a result.
Make sure you’re collaborating with colleagues to create this new process, then as you roll it out, have regular conversations about how it’s working. A lunchtime meeting to get feedback and review how things are working after the first week is a great way to start.
Sometimes, a process impacts a lot of people, and, as with anything, the first time you roll the process out, there are likely to be things that need to be adjusted.
If you can, start by testing out this new process on a smaller group. If you onboard 10 vendors a month, start by putting 2-3 of them through your new process the first month. Gather feedback, iterate where you need to, and put more through next month.
This kind of gradual testing will help you find issues in your process early on, and help to reduce the likelihood that your new process will have an unseen impact.
After you’ve creating your process, developed automation for the repetitive components, collaborated with colleagues and tested things, you should be in a good spot.
Now’s the time to document the process! This can be as simple as writing down the steps of the process in a word document, or creating a formalized process map (like the one we sketched above).
Make sure when you’re documenting this that you include who or what department is involved, expectations for each step (you can think of this about what the inputs and outputs of each step should be), and large goals, like the amount of time the process should take, and what the end result should be.
Documenting your process will help ensure that people who come into the organization later can step right in and participate, instead of having to snoop around for clues about how something works.
Creating processes in your organization is a fantastic way to ensure that you have consistency, and deliver a wonderful experience to your customers, team and anyone interacting with you.
Have you had success in putting together or automating processes? We’d love to hear about it, drop it in the comments!