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Workflow Your Business

by Roy Chambers (follow)
Business (103)      Small business (66)      Business Basics (34)      Workflows (1)     
Very often as business grows a lot of business processes begin to fail. One classic example is customer service. As the business grows the customer service or sales teams becomes more isolated from the rest of the business.

A workflow
An example social media strategy workflow that I created as a consultant

Workflows can help you uncover the problems in the way certain business activities are done.

Workflows vs processes: These days the terms workflow and process are used interchangeably, however they are not the same thing. A business process is an end-to-end activity. Workflows are one way to represent that end-to-end activity. Though if the workflow is not end-to-end it is not a process.

Workflows: are a step-by-step description of how work is carried out. While there are trendy terminology such as BPMN2 that is highly technical you can keep it pretty simple if you wish, as long as you convey all the information that you need. Often simple is better as workflows should be used to communicate with staff.

customer service
Don't stress about the notation and terminology, keep your workflows simple (Image from pixbay.com)

Build your workflow by bringing together the entire team involved. If you create a workflow without consultation it will generally be ignored. Use post it notes and write down all the steps that make up the process and place them in order on a whiteboard or table.

Work out the decisions as the next step. Figuring out the key choices and branches in the workflow is important. Don't put in micro choices but focus on the ones that change the work. For example moving work from one person to the next, or dealing with a customer in a different way.

Improve the process should be done at the end. Many managers are so excited by the idea of workflows analysis that they want to change the process rather than capture it. However the first stage is always to capture what exists, then work to improve it.

customer service
Build better processes through analysing workflows that capture the current reality (Image from pixbay.com)

A common workflow that you should build is customer service. Many companies train their staff to be able to conduct customer service but when a problem occurs that their staff are not trained to handle there is no protocol for escalating the problem. If they do pass it on there are no rules set for how quickly the response should come back. If they handle it themselves they may be exceeding their authority.

customer service
Get your team together build a customer service workflow (Image from pixpay.com)

One example of this was I was inquiring through several places about courses but had a few unusual questions. In nearly every case once I asked the unusual question that the sales person couldn't answer I didn't get any reply or in some cases I didn't receive a reply for over a month.

Yet a workflow could have meant that there was a protocol for handling this and they would not have lost me as a customer.

Another example is billing. Often small business suffers from poor cash flow because they have failed to follow up on unpaid invoices. Have a workflow to escalate how unpaid invoices are handled.

customer service
Use workflows to followup unpaid invoices to maintain cashflow (Image from pixbay.com)

Social Media and Content Strategies are also something that can be handled through workflows. Instead many small businesses just assign it to one person and wonder why their social media strategy fails. Instead social media content should often touch many people in the organisation for ideas, creation, checking, approval and posting.

#Small business
#Business Basics
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