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Optimize & Automate Workflows

If you're a business leader and tired of watching your bottom line shrink even though you're more successful and profitable, then you need to look at your workflows. Our Workflow Optimization & Automation Program is for leaders who want to identify ways to lower costs, improve efficiency and increase margin.  

As part of your Labs membership, you'll receive the best workflow expertise and assessment services available.  With our VNCPropel Platform at the helm, you will use a data driven approach and decades of experience.

This lab contains everything you need to improve workflow efficiency resulting in measurable improvements to margin and lowering costs while supporting revenue growth.

This service is designed for executives, boards, and professionals who want to quickly reassess workflows to improve business efficiency driving higher margin keeping pace with increasing revenue.

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As part of your Labs Membership we align and optimize your workflows with Technology Strategy

Lets Talk About Membership
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Workflow Framework

Companies shouldn’t have to sacrifice the quality of work for the sake of speed; or risk employee burnout because of inefficient processes or poor organization. Through our careful workflow analysis, we help you find a balance that improves your business. Our program identifies where you are wasting your time, streamlines the work process, and finds opportunities to improve the workflow.

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Analyze Current State

The first step in our program is to analyze the workflow in use today - this will be called your "current state". We accomplish this by seeking feedback from your employees, in different roles and responsibilities, on how workflows work as they are. The output of this analysis is a chart clearly showing what is and isn’t working with the way things are currently done and prioritized areas of improvement to create a better version of the workflow.

Understand Current workflow: Our first step towards improving workflow is to list every process and task in your workflow BEFORE making any changes. In many cases, we have experienced businesses that aren't aware of all their processes within their workflow so its important we form this big picture analysis. This picture shows how each process in every division or department (roles & responsibilities) of your business operates. We want to clearly define your current operational state to prepare it for the next steps of identifying gaps and opportunities for improvement.  We perform stakeholder interviews with employees and executives to obtain feedback on each process and task within the workflow that your business supports. 

Identify key gaps and opportunities: This part of the analysis examines each activity or task of the workflow to identify opportunities to improve. During our interviews for example, we look for key indicators - for example - waning motivation, unclear instruction, or communication break down. We also start identifying factors that can or that are affecting the effectiveness of your existing workflow. We detect if there are unsatisfied customers, increased expenses, and overworked staff - these are all signs of problematic processes. We obtain insight from our VNC Propel platform, network of experts and your team to fill in the gaps to start creating a better version of the workflow. We will use this output in the following streamline workflow phase.

Break down the Process:  Break the workflow into smaller, more manageable activities (tasks).  This requires breaking down your workflow in the most simplistic terms, documenting the benefits of each task and who/what department is responsible.

NOTE: Our experience shows that many businesses today are caught up in the dependencies and decision points within any given project because their work process is too complicated. We prefer to keep the process simple, break it down into discrete steps and aim simply towards the desired outcome.

Prioritize the work: Next, we rank each task on the basis of its importance within a typical project. We start by taking the simplified broken down workflow and rate task on the ranking scale of 1 to 10. 1 being the most important process and 10 being the least important process. Doing this will not only keep the workflow properly maintained but it will also help achieve the best outcome at the end of the workflow.


Streamline Workflow

The goal of this analysis is to simplify or eliminate unnecessary work-related tasks to improve the efficiency and cost of workflow in your organization. Streamlining processes require the usage of modernizing techniques, automation and technology. 

NOTE: This is not about replacing humans with robots.  It's actually a delicate balance - letting  robots do what they do best (managing data) while letting people focus on what they do best (critical thinking). The end result is a streamlined system that scales with business growth.

Deep dive analysis of Outcomes: Once you have assessed the current state workflow by breaking down tasks and prioritizing work / ranking, we do a deeper dive analysis on the outcomes. This provides a more detailed perspective on tasks that are tedious, unnecessary and not budget-friendly.

For example, we may have discovered during the "current state" assessment that there are five bins of paper shredded and taken to the trash each day which seemed inefficient. When you do a deeper dive analysis on this outcome you should calculate the cost of the toner and paper, the time employees spend printing and shredding and compare what software product could do to improve that task.

Simplify Decision Making: Recognize that teams can contribute to their own chaos with too many people assigned to the decision-making  For example, are there instances where there are multiple people in similar roles that can put their stamp on a project to move it forward?

Also, what’s considered a “decision” or “approval” is going to vary across businesses and projects. There’s a big difference between a quick thumbs-up in a chat session versus an in-depth review that requires notes and feedback.

It’s crucial to make distinctions between all of the above. Finding a balance might require some compromise from managers and higher-ups. It may also make sense to identify those opportunities to empower junior employees to approve steps and keep things moving.

Eliminate Human Approval Bottlenecks: Ideally, nobody should play the waiting game when it comes to moving a project forward. Yet, bottlenecks rarely impact just one person. When approvals get backed up, we often see a ripple effect that forces otherwise productive coworkers to put pressing tasks on hold as they await an answer. This part of the process if focused on putting an end to approval bottlenecks where possible. Here are a few examples of opportunities:

  • Cut down on the number of steps required in the approval process. This might mean involving fewer decision-makers or “review” states for any given project. 

  • Consolidate your team’s communication and project collaboration tools. For example, an approval step can easily get lost in an email chain. With an use off-the-shelf software to track your messages, notifications, and and other project planning activity related to project management in a single system.

  • Make a conscious effort to regularly check for approvals and items that need your attention rather than reacting to them in real-time.

Automation where Possible: The concept of automation is all the rage right now, but let’s be clear: you shouldn’t feel pressured to link all of your workflows or put every process on autopilot.

That said, there are plenty of simple, actionable automation opportunities that go hand in hand with workflow optimization, including:

  • Sticking to a single source of truth when tracking resources, inventory, and objectives. Doing so reduces back-and-forth and likewise ensures that your team is always dealing with “correct” information.

  • Linking and aligning your company’s internal apps. For example, there are every good off-the-shelf software integrations packages that allow seamless access to shared drives, transfer files, and much more in a single communication app.

  • Align notifications and updates for all of the above.

There are now many modern workflow software solutions that help with streamlining business processes and workflows. They are often referred to as business process management (BPM) software. Each one has its own features and capabilities that will benefit different career fields and organizations. However, most BPMs are designed to have similar benefits such as making it easy to collect data in a central location, automating steps in business workflow and generating better visibility with graphs, charts and reports.

With VNC Propel extended network, we research software that may work for your organization and check to see what your competitors are using to streamline their processes.


Continuous Improvement

Although it appears as this part of the process coming after streamlining workflow, they are actually intermingled and occur in a more agile fashion as the streamlining matures. The goal is to try out the streamlining ideas and refine as we collect more information and feedback.  We want to be able to clearly measure how the streamlined workflow responds to the live workplace environment. We also want to ensure we have KPIs in place to monitor and provide continuous improvement to the workflow over time.

Test Workflow: We assist you and your team test the workflow to ensure automation and other streamline improvements are working correctly and can continuously be measured for adjustment and refinement. Efficient workflows increase overall productivity and lower operational costs. Keep in mind, no matter how well designed a workflow is, there’s always room for improvement. It's important to keep a close eye on the value added ratio for any improved workflows. If their efficiency starts to gradually slip, it’s likely there’s a bottleneck somewhere. Testing should be continuously repeated to address bottlenecks and communicate with your team.  Going back and forth between testing and adjusting is a likely scenario during this phase.

Adjust & Refine: There is no perfect process or workflow and they will likely require continuous adjustments or refinements. You may decide to change the streamlining processes based on results and we will support those changes by going to previous steps. It may also take time to train employees properly on the new processes and not every employee may get the process down correctly the first time. We can assist in that training of you so desire. When processes and workflows are refined, it often requires patience and feedback from clients and employees. Here are a few examples that should be monitored for continuous improvement:

  • Identify potential disruptions 

  • Identify team slowdowns

It's time you address those workflow efficiency issues

If you're serious about optimizing your workflow today, let's talk.

We'll discuss your ideas, see if it makes sense, and help you understand the best next steps.

As part of your Labs Membership we align and optimize workflows with Technology Strategy

Lets Talk About Membership
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Ready to Optimize Workflows and save money?

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