Project Management

Double Your Income With a Workflow Audit

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Double Your Income With a Workflow Audit
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Double Your Income With a Workflow Audit

We’ve all read a three-star Google review that goes something like: “Great product, once it finally arrived. And the website is a mess. Took me forever to place the order.”

For any type of business, building a great product is a significant milestone. It can take years. Yet even when the product or service has achieved perfection (or something like it), most businesses continue to struggle with something. Maybe payments chronically arrive late, creating cash flow issues, clients rarely return for repeat business, or bottlenecks always form in the production line.

At some point in the evolution of a business, leveling up means playing an entirely different game. It means looking away from the product for a time, and honing in on the process.

If you’re discouraged by patterns of mediocre customer reviews, or you’re tuckered out at the end of every week, yet still not able to make ends meet, the solution may entail slowing down, pressing pause and taking a step back.

Managing a workflow audit gives you the perspective to fine-tune a business and get it purring like a newly rebuilt engine. Let’s clarify just what one is, then outline how you do a workflow audit.

Breaking Down a Workflow Audit

Breaking Down a Workflow Audit

Sometimes an owner purchases a business and the systems and processes are already well-established. At other times, he or she builds the process organically. In either instance, the owner is in the unique position not only to run the business, but adjust and fine-tune it as well.

An audit, broadly defined, is a methodical examination. A workflow audit simply entails scrutinizing each and every work stage within a business, in order to identify places where the foundation is shaky or to find floorboards that need to be replaced. Repairing these weak areas allows a business to level up and grow.

All businesses are complex and each is a little different. However, most can be broken down into similar distinct stages. Using the example of a coffee shop, let’s look at some significant areas to cover in a workflow audit.

1. Current Data & Metrics

Performing a successful workflow audit entails gathering metrics on the current state of the business. In a coffee shop, for example, it’s necessary to know things like the average time it currently takes for a customer to place an order, and the percentage of customers who provide feedback on their experience.

Having these benchmarks allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of the audit. For example, if the order time decreases by 20% after a workflow audit, then it’s clear the tweaks were really an improvement.

2. Intake

Intake is the preliminary interaction with a customer. In a coffee shop, it’s when a customer stands at the counter and places his or her order.

If you’ve ever been in a coffee shop line that’s moving at glacial speed, you have an idea of how to spot a red flag at this stage. Improving intake entails examining the current order method, then tweaking it with something like creating a simpler menu.

3. Production

This is the stage in a business process where the employee fulfills the customer’s order. In a coffee shop, it entails making a latte or heating up a scone and serving it to the customer.

Significant delays in fulfilling orders may indicate inefficiencies in the production process. Looking closely at the current process, then making tweaks (such as purchasing additional equipment or rearranging the space) may well improve metrics at this stage.

4. Payment

Payment is central to any business, no doubt about it. In a coffee shop, the payment comes at the very beginning of the order. However, in many businesses, payments are received at various stages throughout the relationship with the client, or else the client is billed entirely upon the completion of the service.

In a scenario such as a coffee shop, a common problem is the payment process taking too long and creating a bottleneck. This can be improved by upgrading payment technology. In other businesses, a common problem is that payments consistently arrive well after their due date. Remedying this problem may entail properly onboarding and training clients with the company’s payment method.

Customer Satisfaction

5. Customer Satisfaction

Evaluating customer satisfaction is critical. If the customer isn’t happy, then the business isn’t happening! It entails looking closely at the number of clients who return for repeat service and what clients say in feedback, both formally and informally.

A low rate of repeat clients means it’s time to employ some client retention strategies. In a coffee shop, for example, this might mean offering perks or discounts to customers who make a certain number of purchases.

These five bullet points cover some key areas to include in a workflow audit, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list. Identifying the various work stages for your business entails looking closely at every step in the process, from marketing and drumming up new clients, all the way to following up with clients and soliciting repeat service.

The key to performing a workflow audit is digging down to identify root causes to problems, and not providing band-aid solutions. For example, if washing dishes in a cafe takes too long, the solution isn’t necessarily to hire a second employee. Rather, it may be to rearrange the equipment or purchase better equipment to make the process faster.

A workflow audit isn’t a one-time event. It’s necessary to fine tune and tweak processes, then examine the new metrics on a quarterly or biannual basis to understand how the changes are working. It’s a healthy practice for any business to perform a workflow audit twice a year, such as one time after tax season, then a second time in the fourth quarter.

Conclusion

We’ve all heard the expression that a stitch in time saves nine. Sometimes the idioms really are true to life. As much as we might want to stay on the business treadmill, a workflow audit means ignoring a compulsion to go, go, go.

Every business gets to a stage where the only way to move forward is to take a step back, to look at processes, to evaluate systems, to identify bottlenecks and to creatively seek solutions.

It may feel indulgent or counterintuitive, but to quote Abraham Lincoln, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Thoughtful preparation is central to maximizing the potential of your business. The time spent performing a workflow audit (evaluating systems and tweaking processes) ensures fluidity within each work stage.

If you feel like you’re always reacting to things in your business and never have the time to plan, or if your marketing methods don’t reel in the quantity of new customers you need, then a workflow audit is just the solution.

When choosing platforms to assist with streamlining your processes and systems, look no further than Teamly! Our one-stop platform for remote companies allows you to pair your superb product or service with systems that facilitate an efficient business.

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