One of the fundamental steps of taking your office to a paperless workflow is to document your existing workflow and pinpoint any slowdowns, hang-ups, or bottlenecks that are currently occurring. This is a process we’ve talked about many times, but little time has been spent on explaining exactly how to identify these issues. After all, if they’re just a part of your normal workflow; you may not recognize them for what they are—serious productivity killers. Instead, you’ll just think they’re “the norm,” and it’s possible that these slowdowns can be incorporated into your new workflow, even when you go paperless.
So when you are documenting your workflow, look at each step of the process and ask yourself these questions. Doing so will help you to recognize potential issues and find a way to streamline processes so that your workflow is as efficient as possible once you go paperless.
How Often Do Errors Occur Here?
Mistakes happen. After all, we’re only human. But if you can identify steps in your process where errors frequently occur, then you may have a problem with that particular step in your workflow. It may be caused by poor communication, disorganization, or any number of other factors, but once you identify that there is a problem, you can look into what is causing it and try to find a solution to work into your new paperless processes.
How Long Does This Step Take?
Once you go paperless, the processing time of your documents will be cut down significantly. However, it is important that you know how long each step is currently taking, as this can help you to identify a bottleneck or any other issues. If most steps in your documents’ processing only take a day or two, but 1 step takes a week or more, you may want to look into how that step’s processing time can be reduced when you go paperless.
Who Is Responsible for This Step?
This is less about assigning blame for slowdowns than it is about ensuring workloads are properly allocated. Let’s say you have 12 sales representatives who are all passing contracts on to 1 processor, who must then organize each contract, enter relevant data into your computers, collect signatures, and so on. Having 1 processor for 12 sales reps may cause major bottlenecks and slowdowns in getting contracts processed, even after you go paperless. Knowing which members of your team are overloaded will help you to properly redistribute workloads as you alter your processes and go paperless.
What’s the Next Logical Step?
It’s also important that you be able to take a step back from your existing workflow and look at it with an objective eye. Ask yourself if the next step in your current process is the most logical and efficient possible. It may be that you have extra steps in your workflow that need to be removed. Or, you may need to add a few steps for quality assurance purposes. Asking yourself this question as you record your current workflow can help you map out a more efficient way to get things done.
Is This Completely Necessary?
Every step in your workflow should be completely essential to your business and the documents that you handle. If you ask yourself this question about any step in your current process, and the answer isn’t a firm and resounding “yes,” then it’s time to trim the fat and get your workflow down to only the essentials. This will help you to create a clean, efficient, more productive workflow when you begin implementing your paperless software.
Mapping your existing workflow can be time-consuming, but it is essential to your business’ efficiency and productivity. Investing the time into this task now will return significant dividends once your new workflow is in place. You’ll have a more productive office, more effective employees, and happier customers as a result of your improved service. So use these questions and start mapping out a workflow for your business now.
If you need an extra hand, our business efficiency experts can offer you customized consultations on how to improve your business and prepare your office for going paperless.