Blog

2015 December

7 Ways to Improve Your Daily Workflow

Posted by | Efficiency, Uncategorized, Workflow | No Comments

We are in an age of hyper-productivity. If you’re not doing five things at once, while ordering your paper towels on Amazon and catching up on Blacklist, then what are you even doing with your life? The problem is, with so much going on, has anyone noticed that not a lot is actually getting done. Our workflow software is ideal for transparency and accountability through processes, but there are some hacks you can add to your everyday routine to help you get more done by working smarter, not harder.

Take Breaks

It may seem counterproductive to take breaks while working, but breaks actually increase productivity. Researchers suggest eating small amounts of protein, taking a walk around the building, or reading a few pages from your latest book. It’s key to take these breaks before your energy is depleted. Schedule your breaks, so you get your recharge before you’re running on empty.

Stay Organized

This used to mean file folders and a place for your stapler. Now, your online workspace is what you have to keep in order, and that can often be harder than keeping your tangible items organized. The mismanagement of information eats up a considerable amount of time and energy. Yes, creating processes to stay organized takes time and discipline, but it’s well worth it!

Leave Work at Work

Burnout is real and it’s more likely to happen if there aren’t strong boundaries between work and your personal life. You have to be able to shut it off, put down the smartphone, and invest in your personal life and relationships. By keeping a healthy work/life balance, you give yourself the opportunity to recharge on a daily basis.

Use Collaboration Tools

Context, accountability and transparency are key pieces of team success. Are the project workflow tools you’re currently using actually being used? Truly being effective? Seamless teamwork doesn’t come naturally to well, just about any of us. We all need the right tools to hold us accountable and encourage transparency.

Step Away From the Email

We check our email far too much throughout the day. Yes, those emails have to be opened and responded to, but when we’re checking our email incessantly, we’re taking our focus away from other tasks, procrastinating and wasting time refocusing time and time again. We suggest checking email once every two hours or in between tasks. Stop the refocusing.

Learn to Say “No”

While we aren’t fans of the ol’, “That’s not my job” we also realize that everyone has a threshold. We can get so caught up in being team players that we take it too far and over extend ourselves. Then comes the burnout, things fall through the cracks and although you started off with the best of intentions, you’re now the problem employee who can’t get work done on time. Knowing your threshold and making transparency part of your everyday workflow can help prevent taking on too much.

Sleep Your Way to the Top

We stole this quip from a great speech by Arianna Huffington. The premise is that once she realized that working 13 hour days and bragging about how little sleep you get actually gets you nowhere, she decided to start putting herself first. She decided to start getting more sleep, taking time to exercise and making it a point to fuel her body with healthier foods. She saw her productivity increase and her work/life balance actually start to balance.

The Need for Strong Workflow Management Increases Over the Holidays

Posted by | Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency, Workflow | No Comments

‘Tis the season to be undermanned. The holidays are hectic for everyone, both personally and professionally. Even if the end of the year happens to be a slow time in your particular industry, there is always work to be done, an opportunity to catch up, or even get ahead (who are we kidding with that last one?). None of that happens though because our lives get down right hectic this time of year. People need to take time off to travel or host guests from out of town, or do the unthinkable and carve time out just to be with their loved ones.

Requests are pouring in for PTO days or work from home time. Although stressful, your employees earned that time or that flexibility. With strong workflow management, everyone can get what they want this holiday season, and business doesn’t have to suffer.

Take Inventory

Perhaps more than any other time of year, you need to know exactly where you stand with deliverables and projects in a prioritized fashion. The Monday before Christmas isn’t when you want to find out you’re behind on a deadline. Firstly, productivity slows down during the holidays and secondly, there are fewer hands on deck, and you’re likely working with a short week. Strong workflow management is essential to ensure nothing falls through the cracks during the holidays.

If you’re like most organizations, you’ve tried about 342 different project management softwares and either couldn’t get employees on board, or the software simply didn’t work for your organization and the established workflow processes within it. Tailored, customizable workflow management software is the solution. Invest in software that your people will actually use, software that does what it says it does, manage work!

Plan Ahead

Now that you know where you stand, you can be transparent with your team about needs and work together to see that they are met. If we can get A, B and C to stage D, then we’re golden. If we can’t, these will be the expectations… It really can be that simple, the problem is that leaders are more often than not, out of the loop with the status of what needs to be done. That’s when you end up with a fully staffed office on Christmas Eve, although a few people would have been adequate. And now everyone hates your guts.   

Offer Structured Remote Work Opportunities

We know why so many leaders aren’t willing to offer remote work or flex work opportunities; they believe they’ll be taken advantage of and communication will suffer. Actually, that is completely the case, unless you have the right workflow management tools. Flex and remote work opportunities are one of the most favored employee incentives you can offer, but without the assurance and proof that work is getting done, employers aren’t willing to let that power go. When a team leader is offered a virtual bird’s eye view on every stage of every workflow, they can let go of that fear, and instead embrace accountability and transparency.

What would you need to see and be in control of to offer an incentive like work from home days, or flex hours? Whatever it is, I’m betting we can make it happen. We create customized software that can track and report on, well, just about anything. Let us help you get through the chaos. Call today 402-943-3733

Using Automated Emails to Improve Customer Relationships

Posted by | Tech | No Comments

“Traditional marketing talks at people, relationship marketing talks with them.”

While the end game will always be sales, we’re seeing a huge shift in marketing as a whole. The focus is now firmly on forging relationships with your customers. Smart brands are moving away from the “one night stand”, and focusing on creating long term relationships. So what does a workflow software development firm have to do with all that?

Email marketing plays a huge role in building and maintaining the B to C relationship (business to consumer). Every organization has an, or several, operations processes and within those processes are workflows -how the product or service gets from A to Z. We’re in the business of optimizing those workflows, but not just for the client. When we develop the software behind workflows, we take a holistic approach. We don’t create solutions for a business, or a customer, or the sales team, or operations, we create all encompassing solutions.

Just one of the many aspects we take into account is how our client can craft those long lasting relationships. It can be hard to strike that magical balance between automated and thoughtful, but that’s why we’re here. Customers want to feel cared for; they want to be kept in the loop but odds are your customer care department doesn’t have the bandwidth to shoot out a text when every order hits every stage of operations.  

Adding automated emails to your operations processes is an efficient and cost-effective way to give customers that care and reassurance they want from your relationship with them. We found this aspect of workflow especially important with one client in particular, Peggy Bank, a service that transfers, photos, slides, negatives, home movies, video tapes, and audio recordings to digital format that can be viewed on computers, TVs and smart devices. We didn’t just need a workflow that safeguarded these precious and irreplaceable memories, we needed a workflow that incorporated transparency and reassurance for the customer.

Automated emails can be used in a myriad of ways, but for Peggy Bank, each step of the ordering process would trigger an automated email to the customer letting them know the status of their order. Not only is the customer left feeling assured their treasures are in good hands, your customer care department isn’t answering phone calls about order statuses. Ah the beauty of automated workflows.

Again, there are countless ways to incorporate automated emails into your workflow processes -the solution can be as unique as your business. We’d love to discuss how automated emails can transform your customer relationships.

5 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Hiring Process

Posted by | Efficiency, Tech, Workflow | No Comments

As organizations grow, it’s important to make sure key processes like hiring are evolving as well. When you have a few resumes trickling in each month, there probably isn’t a need to revamp your hiring process, but anywhere from a few each day to a few each hour, calls for a hiring process upgrade. Human capital is the single most valuable asset you can have in business, how is that the processes we use to vet and obtain our human capital are often, so tragically disjointed and thoughtless? Know when to step it up a notch.

Sales Suffer

You will almost always see a dip in sales when hiring is a pain point. If your hiring process sucks, you are likely scraping the bottom of the talent pool, leaving your sales team to suffer with a slew of bad hires. Bad hires then lead to increased turnover, until you’re left in a costly cycle of hiring and firing just to stay up and running.

Time to Hire is Painfully Slow or Not Tailored to the Candidate

A disjointed process is also a slow process, which means the organization will be undermanned for even longer. In addition, good candidates will drop out if they’re made to wait too long, especially if they aren’t kept in the loop about the process. The current average time to hire is about 25 working days, which in our opinion is way too long. There is still onboarding, training and the learning curve to get through. If you needed this position filled last month, you’re farther behind than you thought. Beyond lag time, a poor hiring process is one that can’t be tailored to the timeline of the candidate and how quickly or drawn out they need the hiring process to be. 

You’re Not Sure Where Candidates are in the Process

If you’ve asked a candidate for their resume three times and you’re not even really sure what position they’re applying for, you need a solution, a streamlined workflow for hiring. Beyond wasting internal resources sorting through emails and figuring out who needs to be part of this decision making process, you’re making a terrible first impression on potentially awesome hires.

Email is No Longer Working

Email has several realistic applications in business, but it is certainly not meant as a candidate management tool. It doesn’t really matter what add-ons or apps you’ve acquired, email is not effective here. You need search, collaboration, workflow queues, automated candidate emails and a bird’s eye view of the hiring process for every candidate. Yeah, email can’t do that.

Good Candidates Turn You Down

A slow, inconsiderate, disjointed hiring process makes good candidates withdraw from the process. Transversely, the hiring manager likely won’t even know the candidate has moved on until they’ve offered them the job, putting them back to square one at a later time than if the candidate were made a part of the process. Good, experienced candidates have an advantage that means they don’t have to wait for you, and they certainly won’t continue a relationship with a company who has only shown them a negative employer brand.

In the end, a good hiring workflow frees up resources for what all organizations really need, recruiting. The hiring manager can get away from tracking resumes and focus on creating a pipeline of relevant, quality talent. While there are countless tools and products out there to help organizations with general hiring pain points, we believe in customized, total solutions at Volano. Out of the box solutions get organizations to an 80% solution, while customized hiring workflow software can get you to 100%.

To find out more about how Volano upgraded the hiring process for YMCA in Lincoln, click here.