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Jan 09,2019

Common Workflow Problems That Every Entrepreneur Should be Aware Of

Managing an efficient workflow is not easy and it gets more complicated as a company begins to expand its areas of operation and subsequently, the workforce. Nonetheless it needs to be done, and in order to keep that flow uninterrupted, it is necessary to have at least some background knowledge about the common problems which are usually responsible for stemming the workflow in most cases.

Tracking Difficulties

Tracking is a broad term in business and it could mean a number of things, depending on the situation at hand. When it comes to common workflow problems however, it usually concerns difficulties in tracking documents and progress of the process. When a process must run through multiple departments, keeping track of each document, as well as the stages of progress becomes increasingly difficult. The situation is often made worse by a lack of efficient communication between the various departments that are working on the same project. In order to solve this problem, Kanban boards can be set up for visualizing and updating the work process in real time. It just makes tracking important documents and the ongoing progress of the project through each step easier. For those that are not sure exactly what is a Kanban board, or how to make the Kanban system work for your company to track progress and improve efficiency, checking out Kanbanize is recommended, because they do have a quick 5-step explanation to familiarize everyone with the Kanban board.

Poor Communication

We touched on this topic in the previous point and for good reason. The problem of poor communication among different departments working on the same project is often the prime reason as to why it is difficult to track important documents and stages of progress in the first place. In the absence of adequate communication, it is only to be expected that there won’t be efficient collaboration among the departments either, which is necessary to keep the workflow uninterrupted. Often described as the silo mentality, it leads to each of the departments acting like an individual or separate business unwilling to share info, rather than collaborating with each other as different units of the same organization should. Once again, the Kanban system can be of huge help here because it provides transparency, real-time updates and a universal platform for the managers to track problems in communication between two departments. When everyone is on the same page, it’s hard to not break away from the silo mentality and work together. Even if some departments are still not collaborating and interrupting the workflow, the hold-up would be evident to everyone, making it easier for the higher-ups to detect the issues and address them accordingly to keep the project moving towards completion on the Kanban board.

Additionally, to break the various departments out of their closed off nature, effective communication between all departments should be fostered with clever planning. Check out some tried and tested methods below:

  • Do not keep your employees in one department for too long; rotation improves interdepartmental communication
  • Try to build a good relationship between the leaders of each department
  • Involve and mix up multiple departments together during team building activities
  • Shared accountability with incentives is a great motivator for improving collaboration
  • Make all resources transparent to all the concerned departments in a project

Too Many Approvals

A number of companies have started to streamline their approval requirements in order to facilitate a smoother workflow. Nevertheless, it is still a problem in most corporations, especially when the system is mostly paper-based. In order to speed up the workflow by streamlining the approval requirements, consider making a revision of how many approvals are required before starting any new project. Once the approval requirements are streamlined to speed up the processes involved, try to automate most of the remaining approvals and remove physical paperwork from the scene, as much as possible. If you don’t yet have an automated system and your business is still mostly dependent on physical paperwork, it is guaranteed that you will notice a huge improvement in your company’s workflow after taking this step.

Inefficient Decision Making

Leaders need to make swift decisions and they need to be correct most of the time. This is as hard as it sounds, if not more so, but swift decision making is vital for keeping the workflow up to speed. If a particular step of the project is being held up too long at a specific department, the department head needs to be contacted and communicated with as soon as possible. If the problem persists, a collaborative effort should be made immediately to solve the issue and get the process moving further down the pipeline.

Transparency, communication and collaboration are the three most important aspects to solving any workflow related issues. There will always be problems, especially as your business grows larger in size, but the idea is to address them fast and implement steps that can help to avoid similar problems in the future.

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