A Smarter Workplace: 5 Ideas for Improving Work Processes
In order for a business to thrive, it needs to consistently meet and exceed its targets: this will result in achieving the best possible results. The key to reaching this level of consistency is in developing a work process, and then refining and improving that process with each subsequent project. We’re going to take a look at some work process improvement ideas that will help you grow your business.
No successful company has ever found the perfect work process at the first attempt. In fact, there’s no such thing as a perfect or flawless process. What you can do is improve your process so much that you start executing projects more optimally, on time, and under budget.
But how is it done? Here are our 5 ideas for improving work processes in your business.
Time Tracking and Analysis
The easiest way to miss a target is by procrastinating, or wasting time when you should be knuckling down to finish a task. However, we also know that micromanaging staff is both inefficient and irritating, for both you and your team members!
Thankfully there’s a smarter solution to be found in software.
There are now plenty of companies specialising in time and activity tracking software, tailored for small, medium or global businesses. It’s completely non-invasive, and the following is just a snapshot of the information they can generate:
- Screenshots which serve as proof of work – An invaluable tool for remote teams.
- Automatically generated timesheets – No more need to manually log and organise hours.
- Internet and application monitoring – Use for keeping an eye on team members spending too much time on Facebook!
- To-the-second daily or weekly time reports – An incredible feature, ensuring clients are billed accurately, and contractors paid for time actually spent working.
The list goes on. You can build up a complete understanding of how your team is using its time, which members are the most effective, and where time is being lost. If you leverage this data to plug holes, fill downtime and motivate your team, efficiency will go through the roof.
Monitoring Team Performance
In addition to tracking time, you can also use project status tracking to monitor and quantify your team’s performance. For example, you can analyse the tasks and projects completed by specific teams or individuals. This data could tell you both where bottlenecks arise in your workflow, as well as the root cause of any problems.
Say you had an employee who always had lower activity levels on a Monday morning and Friday afternoon, you could learn to assign the most vital tasks outside of those hours. It’s a minor adjustment from the project manager, but the overall impact on the efficiency of your team is massive.
Implement a Project Management Process
The key to successful project delivery is consistency of process. Specifically, you can develop a project management process, a methodology which breaks down the key stages of every project into precise phases. By setting clear expectations at the outset, every team member knows how to handle their current and future tasks.
Thanks to this process, everyone is assigned specific tasks and is committing to every deadline. The whole team becomes aware of the bigger picture, transforming a group of employees into a well-oil machine, running autonomously without constant micromanaging on any level. The Kanban Method is the easiest and most flexible system to start with. Kanban improves the flow of work, it increases team productivity and boosts customer satisfaction.
Implementing each stage of the project management process will bring stable, tangible returns to your business. This is one of the most highly valued process improvement ideas by successful project managers.
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Sometimes the most crucial strategies are the simplest. With the emergence of remote teams, working in complex structures across the globe, communication is more important than ever before. Optimising the lines of communication between you and your team is almost the definition of a work process improvement idea: things will get done more efficiently, to a higher standard, with less confusion.
We’re reaching a point where team communication is no longer viable through email, and remote teams can’t stroll over to the next desk to ask a question. That makes it even more important for managers and workers to talk regularly, having productive discussions about their work. Successful teams are those which establish a healthy, honest channel of communication at an early stage.
Review and Optimise Constantly
If we’re being honest, there’s really no limit to how long we could make this list: there is always room for improvement in work processes. That said, even focusing on just those four areas will have an impact. However, if you want that impact to be substantial and enduring, the key is reviewing and optimising your work processes all the time.
By being proactive about implementing changes to your processes, your business will inevitably prosper and grow. You might not experience a titanic shift straight away, but even subtle improvements can build momentum over time.
They say that when you measure things, they tend to grow. When it comes to work process improvements, we couldn’t agree more!
Meet the Author
Sonya Siderova is an independent consultant who helps organisations deliver successful projects as a Product Manager and Agile Coach. She is a proud mother of a daughter and a son, and enjoys good food and heavyweight boxing championships. Sonya is a regular blogger and founder at Nave.
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