You just finished your new client’s AdWords strategy, and there are already more tasks waiting for you. As you go through them, it seems like each one is more critical and pressing than the last, making it hard to know where to begin.
After checking and prioritizing each one, you get an email stating that a client has cancelled today’s meeting and been rebooked for tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. instead. However, when you check your calendar, you see that you’ll be in a team meeting at that time. So you have to email your virtual assistant and tell them to coordinate a better time with the client. After an hour of back-and-forth, it gets done.
Chances are that everyone on your team is facing the same dilemma right now. It’s time to improve your team’s workflow, which can not only keep everyone on schedule but let them do more with less. Below are a few tips and tools that can transform your team into an organized and highly productive unit.
What is a workflow and why is it important?
Basically, a workflow is the sequence of tasks and actions required to complete a particular assignment or project. It covers the following details:
- What has to be done
- When it needs to be finished
- How it has to be done
- Who will do it
On average, three hours of each eight-hour workday are spent on irrelevant or personal tasks. This amounts to 15 hours per week spent on tasks that accomplish nothing. With good workflow management strategies, everyone stays on the same page, avoids time-wasting bottlenecks, and has the time and energy to focus on the tasks that matter.
1. Analyze your existing processes
You know that things aren’t working, but what’s the source of the problems? Is too much time being wasted in meetings? Are key team members focused more on production than communication? Look at your own daily challenges, talk to everyone else about issues that stall their efforts, and see what tools are available to overcome them, such as calendar apps and project management tools.
2. Automate as many tasks as possible
Take a look at your team’s everyday tasks. It’s highly likely that many of them are still being done manually. For example:
- Tracking work hours on a spreadsheet and emailing it to you for payroll purposes.
- Writing emails to notify clients and other team members of upcoming meetings or schedule changes.
- Manually moving data between systems. Perhaps your ERP system isn’t connected with your budgeting or reporting software. Data must be manually pulled from the ERP, edited in Excel, and then uploaded to another system. This wastes time and increases the risk of data errors.
You can automate many aspects of the workflow process by using a good team calendar app and/or project management software. (More on those below!)
3. Use a team calendar app
Dedicated calendar apps offer more functionality than native calendars when it comes to aggregating information, generating actionable items, and communicating with the team as a whole. The best options are on shareable platforms that send automatic reminders and sync with your Google or Outlook calendar so that additions or changes to either schedule are immediately shared on the other.
In addition to workflow improvement, the right calendar app can bring your team forward by:
- Preventing double-booking for meetings and client calls.
- Assigning color codes to specific events, making a general overview easier. You’ll be able to see whether you’re spending too much time in meetings or when one client is demanding more resources than others.
- Automatically pulling new client contact information from your email account, so you don’t waste time inputting the details.
Since apps work on mobile devices as well as desktop systems, information can be updated and exchanged on the go for greater efficiency.
4. Use project management software
Project management software can give your team workflow more structure and visibility. It also maintains project quality and minimizes scheduling or productivity disruptions by:
- Integrating with your preferred calendar app to create and share individual and team schedules.
- Making collaboration more efficient. Team members can use this central platform to report and comment on deliverables, avoiding the dreaded ‘email trail.’
- Storing important documentation in a single location. No more going through email threads to find that mission-critical attachment.
- Streamlining communications. A lot of project management platforms integrate with communication tools like Slack, so you can send announcements and updates without having to log into a separate program first.
A project management solution is a must-have for teams today, especially with the increasing complexity and fast pace of today’s multi-tasking, distributed workforce.
What’s the bottom line?
It is so important to have a workflow in place, no matter how simple. When there is a defined system in place, everyone knows what their responsibilities are and how they will contribute to the larger picture. Everybody knows what to do when and who to call with questions. Empowering people in this way leads to productivity and efficiency that deliver outstanding results.