Blog

July 2016 - Volano Solutions

Workflow Automation Fails

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As they say, “Every rose has its thorn.” Workflow automation is intended to create efficiencies and increase consistency, but that isn’t always necessarily the case. Custom workflow software needs to be created thoughtfully, with a team of professionals who have seen it all and done it all. As leaders in custom software development in Omaha, we know exactly what the common pitfalls of workflow automation are, and how to avoid them. In this industry, knowing what doesn’t work is just as important as knowing what does.

Fail #1: Information About Process Management is Being Hoarded

Let’s say Suzie (not Suze, for all those Seinfeld fans out there) was part of the creation and management of a core workflow. Everything was flowing perfectly, until Suzie left the company without passing along vital process management information. Now, the employee taking her place either spends company resources figuring out the process, making and correcting errors, then eventually gets it. Or, they simply abandon the established, working process and create their own to get work flowing again. Neither of these outcomes are ideal. Be sure to procure documentation about every process with context around details and functions. A documented workflow system effectively kicks down the walls that castle builder Suzie has erected. This will seem like a back burner task…until Suzie has left, then it’s a full on situation.

Fail #2: The Workflow Prevents Manual Error Manipulation

There are many situations in which a person in a workflow or post workflow sees an obvious error but cannot manually fix the error or effectively alert relevant persons about the error. In these situations, the person using the software and the person having to clear up the mess the error caused might just wish for their old pen and paper process. The last thing we want is for your custom software investment to work against you. We will always suggest manual intervention in certain areas of your software development.

Fail #3: Your Workflow Lacks a Transparent Look Into the Sequence of Events

We see this roadblock cause the most damage in employee portals. Every employee loves the convenience of an automated process they can complete on their smart device. The problem arises when they have made a request or filed something that requires follow through…but it never comes. They’re not sure if their request got lost in the series of tubes that is the internet, they’re not sure if someone is working on it, or if they performed their submission incorrectly.

In any workflow in which a sequence of events would be relevant to someone involved, we suggest offering that transparently. It’s an oversimplification, but we love how Pizza Hut created their app; it shows a clear timeline from order to delivery; who’s making your pizza, and when it went out the door. ‘Cause people need to know about the status of their pizza!

Experience in workflow automation is really the only way to avoid these common fails, and we’re proud to say we have plenty of it. Not all software is created equally. The planning and thought that goes into your custom workflow software, is what will make the finished project a success. For more on the Volano process, click here.

3 Ways You’re Killing Productivity

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Every business owner is concerned with productivity. It’s one of the most important metrics a leader can measure and improve upon. It’s usually pretty easy to focus on outside distractions and seek out obvious inefficiencies. It’s not quite so easy to realize when you as leader are the roadblock or the bottleneck. Take a second to reflect on these common ways leaders are killing productivity in the workplace.

You’re Bogging Your Team Down With Tasks That Could Be Automated

Have you embraced technology? We mean really embraced technology. You’ve probably ditched the filing cabinets and ledgers, but there’s so much more. There are endless possibilities when it comes to automation.

When you automate tasks you enhance efficiencies and consistency, and reduce the use of redundant resources. Take a look at each task that is repeated on a daily or weekly basis and at least consider the idea that it could be automated. What would that look like and what would be the return over one, five, or ten years?

Read more on automation here.

You’re Hoarding Information and Responsibility

Information is power, so why do we tend to find all the information closest to the top of the ladder? Sometimes leaders don’t think the information is necessary for the task, they don’t want to take the time to give context, or they might even think giving too much information can be overwhelming.

Stop underestimating your team and start empowering them. First, figure out why you aren’t delegating and sharing information. No time? Maybe you need a centralized information hub. Worried about follow through? Perhaps you need automated work queues and accountability alerts. Doing it yourself is just easier than training someone? We know it’s hard to give up that control, but it’s 100% necessary in order to foster growth and support scalability.

You’re Not Conveying Clear Expectations

Do you ever get frustrated because you can’t seem to get your team to do exactly what it is you want? Well, have you stopped to consider whether or not you’ve made your expectations clear? Communication can be a really funny thing, especially when your main communication medium is email. So much can get lost in translation, and lack of context can be a productivity killer.

Stop assuming your expectations are clear. Stop relying on email as a project management system. Instead, create concrete goals for staff members. Be sure you and your team have a shared understanding of what success looks like with each step. Does this feel like a lot more trouble than it’s worth? Trust us, it’s not. Conveying clear expectations and standards consistently will set the bar going forward.

Could you use a more productive staff? Let us help you help them! It’s what we do; we help leaders find the inefficiencies and productivity blocks in their team (including themselves). Let’s talk about how we can make work flow in your organization.