No need to tell me that no one particularly likes the words, I am perfectly aware of that.
And it’s not because they can often be heard at court – not for me, at least, and I truly hope that not for you as well. It’s just that order is something that is very hard to stick to. Like, c’mon, what fun is this?
Believe me or not, never have I ever thought in my life that someday I will be sitting in front of my computer trying to tell you that order is important. Me! Can you imagine? You see, I never was a team player. Following rules and strict organization were never my strong sides, but with time I started to admit that it’s an inseparable part of a truly efficient business workflow. You see, when you are working alone, you can afford to have a very flexible schedule, you can do whatever you want (eh… almost). When it comes to some serious collaboration and teamwork… My-oh-my, it was a disaster for me at first, and it took me a while to get used to it.
That is why I am so willing to help you choose the right workflow for your business and make the whole thing seem less dreadful to you.
Table of contents:
Why Workflow Is Important For Your Business
To make it clear why I changed my mind so drastically at some point in my life, I deffo have to provide some sound reasoning. Here it comes:
Reason 1: stable workflow might become your constant success formula.
Sad but true, creative chaos is not a real friend of yours most of the time. When you are taking a new project, the first thought that comes to your mind is “how am I gonna do it?” Well, you see, with established workflow you wouldn’t be wondering, you could give an approximate answer straight away with several details to correct depending on the type of project, goals, and schedule.
According to the research made by Project Management Institute, only 23% of organizations use strict and established workflow throughout all departments.
Keep that in mind and now check this out: according to a study by Spikes Cavell, 39% of project failures are caused by the lack of planning.
So, what do we have? 77% of businesses limit the use of standardized workflow practices or do not use them at all while more than a third of project failures happen because the companies invent their workflows on the go. Ain’t it a correlation here, what do you think?
I bet if suddenly 100% of companies tried to settle their workflows and business processes, the statistics would be drastically different and the number of projects failed because of poor planning would immediately shrink.
Reason 2: time is money.
When you take a project and assign tasks, there are two scenarios: either everybody starts working at once knowing what they have to do, maybe clarifying some adjustments here and there, or all your employees form up a queue with dozens of “how” questions. The first one looks considerably more favorable for me.
Questions might arise anyway, and it’s completely normal, but creating a new workflow and explaining everything to everyone from the very beginning every time is daunting and takes a while. If you have agreed specific workflow templates that everybody is familiar with, the only thing you have to do is decide which template to use. After that, you can start working almost immediately, which saves a lot of hours, days, or sometimes even weeks. As a result, you can do the job faster and earn more.
Reason 3: it is easier to analyze mistakes and avoid them in the future.
Everything is pretty only in fairy tales, reality is significantly different. Yes, your project is planned and going alright, but it’s almost impossible to close a deal without at least some issues. But!
When something happens within your strict schedule, you can easily identify the problem and deduce the reason for it. Analyze the situation and adjust your working process to avoid the problem next time. If your workflow isn’t established, tracking the issue down to its root will become unbearable, and eventually you might give up even, allowing yourself to repeat the same mistake in the future.
I hope my reasoning looks solid enough for you. If you agree – let’s get down to see how to build a project workflow.
7 Tips for Building and Organizing Your Workflow
№1: Analyze your previous projects
Studying your previous experience is not only a reason or possibility; it is a must for creating a workflow from start and the first thing you should do. Mind you, it is not easy, but the result is totally worth it. Being able to define your weak spots and strong spots will help you avoid old mistakes, appoint the team members to the specific tasks, and so much more. The main distinction: you choose assignees not because “alarm, someone’s gotta do it ASAP cuz we’re approaching the deadline!” but because the person is fit for the task and is the best choice. Never stop analyzing – there’s always room to improve your office workflow and issues to fix.
№2: Calculate the time
Creating a schedule is a vital part of building a workflow. How much time does it take for person A to complete their task and pass it to person B? And after that? How many iterations does your team need to polish the product? How many days/weeks/months might the project like this or that take as a whole? At first, your numbers will be a bit rough, but as soon as you gain more experience, you will be able to define more precise terms and, of course, adjust the costs of your work, especially if it needs to be done faster than usual.
№3: Use special software
Creating a workflow for a business process using a graph drawn on a blackboard or in a text document will not get your company on top. In a world where everything is automated, you have to play the same game and adapt because it adds you some speed and mobility points. It is not news that special project management tools help you save a lot of time and become more efficient. The market is huge – find out what your options are, try them (most apps have a free trial) and choose the one that fits your requirements the best. One tip, though: if you need to streamline your design approval workflow and increase the efficiency of your work, Approval Studio is definitely your best bet.
№4: Establish clear communication patterns
I’ve told about that a million times probably, but here’s one more: communication is a key to everything, including developing a workflow in your business. However, you should implement it in a very precise way as well. How do you communicate and where – these are the main questions you have to brainstorm at first. Discuss these questions with your team to settle them once and for all, and you want to have one message sent in the email and the other via Facebook. There are dozens of messengers out there – pick something, create channels for specific topics dedicated to specific types of workflow or come up with whatever you might find useful depending on the size of your team, project, client and etc. Meetings with clients and follow-ups should also be considered when you are calculating your workflow schedule.
№5: Consider potential risks
New ideas are always connected with certain risks, like it or not. Creating a new workflow, you should think of potential action scenarios when everything suddenly falls to pieces. Understanding risks is something that also comes with experience, and if you’re still a bit green behind the ears, your main task is to observe and to learn. Find out as much as you can about risks in your sphere in articles, researches, vlogs, or wherever, but never take this information as a pure truth – consider it, but remember that you can fully rely on your own experience only. After some diligent learning by trial and error, you will start seeing the potential threats in every project you take. Adjust your workflow accordingly and make sure you always have an extra day or two just in case. I hope that doesn’t look like I’m too paranoid…
№6: Don’t hope for impossible
Urgency always has its own cost that is much higher than the regular one. It is fair and it is one of the main market rules: the one who does the job faster without any quality loss always has the biggest bite. However, be realistic about your capabilities and don’t think you’re invincible to a failure. Greed never did anything good to anyone, so always be rational about how many projects you can take at once and how much time you need for each. You’re working with people, not with robots, and there are power limits even to the most enduring sprinters. If you feel that you cannot tackle all client demands and the possibility of failure is too big, it might be better to look for something else instead of shrinking your workflow beyond any reasoning. It won’t bring you any profit, but your reputation will surely remain clean.
№7: Think of variables
Considering all of the above, a logical question appears: is one workflow pattern enough for my company? Most likely, the answer is no. Regardless of your industry and skills, the projects you will take will all be different from each other and will demand a different approach and a new strategy. As a creative manager, I can assure you that packaging design project is significantly different from creating the brand identity and so on. You might need variables with slightly adjusted attributes for each type of work you might take. Also, it is a good idea to create short-term and long-term schedules and then adjust them considering the risks.
There are many factors you have to pay attention to if you want to implement workflow in your business. The result is the successful blend of all of them, seasoned with your experience and analytical skills. All these elements are important if you want your team to perform and gain a solid reputation in your industry. Order is important. I did not believe it myself some time ago, and, trust me, I could have done much better with dozens of projects if I understood it earlier. I hope this article will help you avoid such mistakes and skyrocket your performance!
And just in case: Approval Studio is always there if you, like me, work with graphics a lot.
Best of luck!