It’s 2020. We should be done with the days of paper trails, overflowing filing cabinets, and endless forms. But many organizations are still manually processing employee data, purchase orders, and other routine paperwork.
By recognizing and eliminating manual processes and bottlenecks in your business’ workflows, you can start focusing on the things that matter.
Want to kick your workflows into overdrive and slash the inefficiencies from your system? This article will walk you through seven workflow optimization tactics for streamlining your business processes.
This is a comprehensive guide. To jump straight to the section which interests you most, click the links below:
- A breakdown of workflow optimization
- 7 workflow optimization tactics
A Breakdown of Workflow Optimization
Workflow optimization refers to the process of streamlining your team’s workflows so that you can complete more work more efficiently and more affordably.
Primarily, workflow optimization looks to reduce manual processing and physical paperwork.
For instance, manual processing often means there’s no digital copy of a purchase order.
No digital copy means no accountability or traceability when a purchase order is lost. Which means paying for the search as well as the order to be redone. And those costs, over the course of a year, can add up.
Without bottlenecking from errors in manual processing and delays in approvals, there’s no need to backtrack. You won’t have to shell out extra cash to fix inaccuracies and your business’ growth won’t be stymied by avoidable inefficiencies.
There’s also no finger-pointing around who saw the paperwork last, and who’s responsible for it going missing.
Using workflow optimization technology to automate manual processes means your staff are free to concentrate on value-added work. They don’t have to spend time chasing approvals or manually inputting data into multiple forms and spreadsheets.
The results of streamlined workflows extend beyond the time and money saved. Smoother working processes make for happier teams and more productive team collaboration.
7 Workflow Optimization Tactics to Supercharge Your Whole Business
Looking to drive efficiency in your operational workflows but unsure where to start?
Here are the best tactics for optimizing your workflows to boost business output.
#1 – Improve Inventory Management Workflows
Inventory management is a headache if you’re doing it manually.
Trying to track supplier invoices against actual goods received can take hours when you’re dealing with boxes of packing slips and stacks of paper invoices.
Optimizing your inventory workflow management systems with an automated approval process means fewer mistakes, streamlined intake and delivery, and automatic stock-take as well as quick PO approval.
For instance, instead of passing piles of purchasing papers for managers to sign, an automated approvals process notifies each manager when a new approval is needed.
Rather than relying on easily-lost paperwork to track the receipt of goods, team members and approvers can digitally sign electronic documents to move the process along.
With mobile-friendly workflow software, the next time a shipment arrives at your warehouse your receiver can use their phone to pull up the PO, check it against the goods delivered, and digitally sign off the receipt.
Then when AP receives the invoice, they don’t need to chase anyone around double-checking whether the materials have been received.
The workflow software will automatically notify them that the materials were delivered and accepted before they begin processing payment.
Using automated approvals for stock requests, POs, and deliveries reduces time spent following up on orders.
To effectively optimize your inventory workflow management process, you need to build and standardize your inventory forms.
Here’s an example from frevvo of an automated, digital PO, which can be filled out in moments and automatically sent to the appropriate manager for approval:
You can see exactly how this template works, including the submission and approval process, here.
Previously relying on manual paper trails, Central Wyoming College knew they needed a way to streamline PO processes.
The errors had become overwhelming and staff were spending hours chasing approvals from management and above.
Using frevvo to automate their purchase order processes, PO reviews are now completed much more quickly. This means staff can focus on teaching, rather than getting weighed down by paperwork.
With a full audit trail of POs, the school no longer has to worry about the consequences of inaccurate paper trails and can relax knowing that orders are executed correctly, and efficiently.
Check out exactly how they did it in this case study.
#2 – Streamline Logistics Operations
The key to logistics is timing. If anything interrupts your logistics workflow, you can fail to meet your delivery slots and lose customers.
Workflow automation technologies automatically help cut down the manual processes and paperwork involved in logistics.
Tracking shipments to stores or customers is a complex process. Trying to group local shipments together or time deliveries for greatest efficiency takes a lot of skill, especially if you’re trying to figure it all out in a spreadsheet.
One wrong address or delivery time could send a driver completely off schedule, and an entire day of deliveries gets missed.
You also need each driver to carry around a stack of forms for customer signatures. Forms that go through multiple other hands before they make it to AR. If a signature is missed or a form is misplaced it can mean lost funds for your business.
A digital system that can auto-populate customer or store addresses reduces the risk of typos.
Add in the ability to automate approval workflows and accept digital signatures and your logistics workflows are suddenly much more efficient.
This high level of efficiency is what logistics charity, Mercy Ships, experienced after implementing logistics workflow technology.
The charity, which moves doctors around the world on a fleet of ships, was having trouble synchronizing doctor transfers. Manual processing meant there had been confusions with locations and scheduling.
Leveraging frevvo’s workflow software, Mercy Ships integrated automatic approvals processes with Confluence for frictionless collaboration.
Now, Mercy Ships saves hours because staff don’t have to chase approvals. What’s more, they no longer experience such drastic data entry mistakes, reducing the massive costs associated with incorrect logistics.
Read the full breakdown of how they did it in their case study.
#3 – Optimize Student-Facing Operations in Higher Education
With students attending both on campus and remotely, it can be difficult to process all students correctly and make sure documentation is correct and up-to-date.
If you’re feeling the pressure at your high school, college, or university, you’re not alone.
From organizing student body schedules to registering students for classes and services, the list of student-focused workflows in a large educational establishment is endless.
Reading hand-written forms is time-consuming and painstaking.
Plus, having to manually type all that data into your student registration system or information management software is slow and error-prone.
Creating an integrated workflow where students can populate their own information electronically saves a significant amount of time while also improving the accuracy of your data.
La Cité found this out when it came to student registrations.
La Cité is the largest French-speaking applied arts and technology college in Ontario, and their existing workflow processed all class registrations manually.
This meant lots of errors and long queues of students.
To remedy this, La Cité introduced frevvo, to enable students to register from their smart devices using a digital signature (something they were far more familiar with than paper forms).
Not only did registrations increase by 700%, form-checking time was cut by 20 minutes per person.
Now the school manages all student information in one place (rather than several huge filing cabinets).
#4 – Speed Up HR and Onboarding Procedures
Human resources (HR) is a prime area for workflow optimization. Too much time is spent on routine tasks and transactional activities, like filling out new employee forms, due to outdated manual processing.
You can speed up HR processes by automating HR workflows to optimize onboarding, employee scheduling, payroll, vacation time, pay raises, and more.
Digital onboarding forms are a good way to start automating hiring processes. Then allow you to collate all new hire data in one place to manage candidates through the hiring pipeline.
See exactly how this digital form works, here.
You can also automate approval processes for faster sign-offs on new hires, time off, pay rises, and vacations using digital signatures.
That’s how OSRAM Sylvania streamines hiring.
OSRAM Sylvania, a B2B lighting supplier, has supervisors working remotely across multiple locations. Their existing HR workflows involved tons of hiring forms and fistfuls of approvals.
The obvious need to consolidate these HR procedures led the lighting company to implement frevvo’s no-code workflow software.
Using frevvo, the firm consolidated all HR functions to a single location (a service center in Mexico). They automated HR functions such as job code management, compensation tracking, and shift scheduling. This dramatically reduced time spent correcting inaccuracies in data, speeding up the whole HR workflow.
#5 – Optimize Workflows for Sales Procedures
A slow, lengthy sales process can scare away potential customers. Especially if they find themselves having to repeat the same information multiple times.
By using automation and workflow optimization in your sales processes you can create a smoother customer experience at the point of sale.
For instance, frevvo will automatically send a PDF copy of this dynamic sales order form to prospective customers:
You can customize the form to only ask for the information you need. Then, set up the workflow so the completed form automatically goes to your fulfillment team, or whoever is responsible for completing sales orders.
Optimizing your sales processes can have a positive effect on your conversion rates.
Take order confirmation emails, for example. With an open rate of 60%, automated order confirmation emails are a great place to offer a discount to encourage future purchases.
Solar energy firm Activ8 streamlined their sales procedures with workflow software.
Previously, Activ8’s sales reps would manually complete sales paperwork in customer homes.
Not only did this take a long time, the process was riddled with errors that required return visits or calls to remedy.
Now, with frevvo, sales reps use frevvo’s business rule calculations to provide accurate labor and materials price estimates within seconds, from a tablet or mobile device.
Harnessing frevvo’s automations to streamline sales documentation procedures, Activ8 customers can now sign digital paperwork using electronic signatures.
Where paperwork could get lost between a customer home and the office, sales documentation is automatically emailed to the office and to the customer.
With frevvo’s dynamic sales order automation, Activ8 now benefits from enhanced customer relationships and faster sales.
#6 – Upgrade Client Relationship Management Processes
Client retention is vital to the health of your business, which means that robust client relationship management processes are a must.
Purchase follow-up procedures, for instance, should be put in place to make sure that customers are satisfied with your business’ service.
Frevvo integrates seamlessly with SQL databases. This means you can automatically populate your customers’ information into the appropriate fields — making their follow-up form completion quick and painless:
Automated forms can help you speed up account approvals, streamline customer feedback, and standardize client documentation.
That’s how MediUSA, a manufacturer of medical aids, improved their contract completion process and Credit App applications procedure.
Historically, their clients had to print, sign, and scan contracts sent to them by email. Credit App applications were completed manually.
Now MediUSA uses frevvo to automate both procedures, resulting in contracts and credit applications being both error-free and delivered on time.
Not only that, but MediUSA no longer has to worry about duplicate data entries, as frevvo automatically flags and deletes duplicates.
#7 – Streamline Workflows in Finance and Accounting
From approving purchase orders to processing payments and forecasting cash flows, optimizing financial workflows will help you to keep track of your accounts and improve your money management.
Cash, checks, and paper invoices are becoming obsolete. They’re slow, prone to fraud, and fraught with potential for error due to the lack of an audit trail from buyer to seller and department to department.
This means your business needs to have digital financial systems in place to streamline payment processing.
Here’s a breakdown of how it works with frevvo:
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Organizations can use accounting process automation to manage payments, track budgets, collate documentation, and automate approvals and financial requests.
That’s why Uncommon Schools implemented frevvo into its financial procedures.
They needed a platform to keep track of and optimize their technology budget. With little in-house tech skill, Uncommon Schools needed a financial workflow solution that integrated easily without a lot of coding.
Improving interdepartmental communications and budgeting, Uncommon Schools considerably slashed budget planning time with frevvo financial templates.
“Centralizing the data has been very beneficial and is allowing us to now explore automation for validation of budget requests. Based on last year’s estimates we’ll save around 60 hours over 3 months just in this one area.” – Guy Weisenbach, Director of IT Project Management at Uncommon Schools
Workflow optimization allows you to do more with less. You’ll experience speedier operational processes, reduced errors, and decreased resource wastage.
From sick pay to sales forms to supply chains, you can optimize all elements of your workflow by standardizing, digitizing, and automating manual processes. That way you won’t have to spend two hours tracking down a paper invoice.
Workflows lagging in your organization? Demo frevvo now and see the difference workflow optimization can make.