Business across industries, from construction to manufacturing to hospitality, work towards operational excellence. This means reaching a state of maximum efficiency and increasing your business output. At the same time, operational excellence means being aware that continuous improvements can always be made, no matter how small.
An easy way for businesses to streamline processes and continue optimizing is to automate processes using workflow software. Around 74% of workers believe part of their jobs would benefit from automation, and it’s not hard to see why. Automation means tasks are done faster and keeps employees from spending their days on repetitive tasks. Workflow software also often comes with supporting functions, like data analysis, to help you make the most of your changes.
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What is operational excellence?
Operational excellence means changing the culture in your business to focus on streamlining processes and reducing unnecessary elements of those processes. The idea that there is always potential for improvement is found in similar Japanese business philosophies like the Six Sigma Method or the Kaizen approach.
One of the most significant ways that operational excellence transforms a business is by reducing human error during tasks. Human errors, in addition to being the most common causes of defects and/or delays, can be very costly to fix. That’s one of the biggest reasons businesses are turning to workflow software to help manage daily responsibilities.
Workflow automation software has a massive range of applications, since businesses can automate up to a third of all business tasks depending on their industry. Workflow automation helps your organization design new processes as well as improve existing ones. It does this by setting sequences of tasks in motion automatically, eliminating back-and-forth between management and workers.
As an operational excellence tool, workflow software is most helpful for correcting manual processes. The four biggest signs your business should adopt workflow automation software are:
- Manual processes are often delayed by errors or are inconsistent, making them difficult to assess
- Manual processes aren’t fast or comprehensive enough to handle business growth without compromising quality
- Communication is either lacking or too slow, creating confusion and stalling work
- Your business isn’t able to effectively track or monitor tasks, meaning there is low visibility for stakeholders and no opportunity to analyze processes
When you automate daily tasks, you’ll start to see improvements in the above areas, as well as others. And workflow management software is tailored to your business by default, since most solutions out there rely on organizational data to deliver results.
5 ways workflow software promotes operational excellence
Over half of all employers would like to introduce automation in their company, which isn’t surprising. The core benefits of workflow automation software – speed, communication, and standardization – benefit your business in both the short and the long term. Being able to optimize and redesign key processes keeps your business competitive for years to come.
1. Identifying bottlenecks
Bottlenecks are the points in a workflow where progress is stalled. Implementing workflow software means you’ll have to audit workflows to learn where issues are arising. Once you’re aware of factors that delay or block your workers, you’ll be able to redesign workflows accordingly.
For example, if you learn that manually entering data is slowing down your order approval process, you can set data to be processed automatically once collected. Then, your workflow management software can trigger an order approval request, which in turn is automatically processed.
Another common bottleneck for businesses is human error. Whether caused by negligence or inconsistency, workflow software removes human error by ensuring tasks are performed the same way every time. If a process cannot be fully automated, one way to ensure consistent quality is to use a checklist which pre-defines employee tasks so no steps or skipped or done differently.
Checklists generated by a workflow management platform can also register when there is an error based on inputted data. Then, that error will be reported immediately, prompting responsible employees to implement corrective actions. Real-time visibility of errors makes it easy to adjust your processes for the future.
2. Lowering costs
Saving money is a priority for any business and workflow automation saves you money while improving performance. Using workflow software cuts costs in two ways. First, automating some or all daily tasks means they take fewer hours and require less staff. This means you’ll have lower labor costs. Secondly, because automated tasks are consistent, you’ll have higher-quality results. Not having to double back and fix errors or recall products saves money, resources, and time.
Workflow management software acts as a quality management system, without requiring lots of workers to keep the system running. Assuring consistently strong results without sacrificing resources keeps operational excellence well within reach.
3. Strengthening communication
Businesses run most smoothly when everyone knows their role and responsibilities at any given point. When you rely on manual processes, communication is drawn-out via a tangled web of messages and updates that cause unnecessary delays.
Workflow software removes any ambiguity from team communication. Tasks are easy to create, assign, and track, so expectations are always clear. And when a task is finished, it’s updated automatically, so there’s no more waiting for a manager to see it before the next task is assigned.
4. Analyzing performance
Regular analysis is an essential feature of operational excellence, which is made much easier by workflow management software. To start with, automated data collection makes sure everything is entered correctly and nothing is missing. And all of this data is collected in real-time, which means it’s as accurate as possible.
Several workflow automation platforms also offer automated analytics based on the data you’ve provided them. Having a visual representation of your performance metrics and business processes helps you identify areas to improve. And best of all, you don’t need to spend time analyzing things yourself.
Regular data analysis leads you to make informed, data-driven decisions and allows you to adapt when necessary. Real-time information means you can change course earlier to stay ahead of problems.
5. Making employees happier
Many industries rely on small, repetitive tasks to keep things running. The problem is that these aren’t always the most interesting responsibilities, and it’s easy for employees to feel burned out after doing them for too long. Automating otherwise tedious work is revolutionary for employee morale.
With all the time your workers save on those mundane tasks, they’re free to focus on more creative work. Allowing people to develop projects or pursue work that interests them greatly improves organizational culture.
As the first frontline automation platform, Lumiform is a leading operational excellence tool. With it, you can create checklists and define employee workflows to introduce consistency to business processes. Being able to assign and track duties from one centralized platform gives you constant visibility into your team, and enables you to share results with stakeholders.
You can set tasks to proceed in sequence, so that as one checklist is completed, another begins. This way, there are no unnecessary steps impeding progress. And any data that’s collected using a checklist is stored in the cloud, where it’s easy to review at your convenience.