There are some industries in which tight workflow control is a necessity rather than a luxury. Biotech is one of those industries. Because pharmaceuticals and biotech so directly affect people’s lives and life quality, extensive checks and balances are built into the systems involved in bringing new products to market and ensuring those who require the products have them on time and in sufficient quantity.
The right workflow tools can make or break a biotech enterprise, and these tools are as necessary for the departments supporting clinical research as they are for the departments in charge of testing and evaluating products. Workflow automation software in the biotech industry improves compliance with regulations, reduces error rates, and ensures maximum efficiency.
Workflow Tools for Compliance
Few industries must comply with as many governmental and professional regulations as biotech, and workflow tools designed to ensure and document compliance at every step are a critical necessity. Likewise, those responsible for the administrative responsibilities at biotech organizations must have their own checks and balances to ensure that regulation compliance never falls through the cracks. With workflow automation software in use across a biotech organization, more fail-safes are built into everyday processes so that falling out of compliance with regulations is far less likely to happen. And when it does happen, it can be recognized and corrected without delay.
How Accuracy Is Improved by Workflow Tools
Accuracy is important in every business, but in biotech, this goes double. Making a mistake on tax withholding can result in a financial penalty from the Internal Revenue Service, but a mistake in a workflow involved in the development of a new drug can result in actual harm to people. Automated workflows can help improve accuracy significantly over processes that are based on paper and manual hand-offs. A protocol for an experiment that is handwritten in a notebook can be smudged or damaged, resulting in misunderstandings, but a protocol created with automated workflow software runs far fewer risks.
Workflow Automation Software and Efficiency
As in every industry, biotech depends on efficiency as a competitive differentiator. With all the expenses involved in bringing biotech products to market, maintaining process efficiency can mean the difference between thriving and going out of business. With workflow tools, everyone from lead scientists to building managers to those handle shipping and receiving can maximize efficiency and focus more attention and energy on the core business mission.
Workflow automation can do everything from making employee check-in at the parking garage faster, to setting up new employees in their workstations quicker, to providing instant notifications to HVAC personnel when tightly-controlled laboratory environments experience climate control issues.
And when it comes to documenting regulation compliance, automated workflow software simply is a necessity. Steps can be documented and signed off on electronically, and retrieving this documentation is instant and accurate. Should a compliance audit happen, workflow automation software can reduce stress significantly by allowing compliance officers to quickly retrieve and report on information that demonstrates that all regulations have been complied with.
PerfectForms is workflow automation software that’s flexible enough to be used across all departments, and across all industries. An intuitive, drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create electronic forms and workflows, with built-in checks and balances, automatic notifications of relevant parties, and documentation of compliance at every step. Your receptionist can issue visitor badges quickly and know exactly who received them. Administrative professionals can ensure that no signatures are missing from critical documents, and scientists can create workflows that ensure accuracy and efficiency.
Best of all, you can try out PerfectForms for free! Whether you’re in biotech, beauty products, automotive technology, or agriculture, you’ll discover countless ways to make work processes faster, more accurate, more compliant, and far easier to document.
A company’s so-called “external customer” is the person or company that purchases goods or services. But did you know your company is made up of internal customers as well? These are the people who depend on others so they can carry out their work. For example, procurement depends upon a smoothly running approval process to be able to procure the things they (and their customers) need. The administrative assistant can’t type up the memo or letter from the executive until he or she dictates it or presents a draft to work with.
Customer service representatives can’t keep external customers optimally satisfied if they have trouble getting approval for a price override or a refund. All these “internal customer” relationships affect workplace morale and motivation, and they have an enormous effect on how a company is perceived by external customers.
Why Serving the Internal Customer Is Critical
Making sure that your company’s internal customers are consistently served well is critical because it affects almost every aspect of business, including how employees get along with each other, how well departments communicate, and how motivated customer service team members are to take care of external customers. An attitude of “not my problem” can propagate throughout an organization and lead to apathy and low morale. But when people take seriously their obligations to co-workers, other departments, and anyone who depends on their work, s positive approach can propagate throughout just as easily. And there’s little argument that a positive workforce makes for a positive experience for the external customer.
Create Service Standards for Internal Customers
Just as you have standards you expect to meet in relation to external customers, so should you have reasonable expectations for meeting the needs of internal customers. It’s not unreasonable, for example, to expect a fast turnaround time for delivery of marketing material to a potential customer. Nor is it unreasonable to expect the packaging process to be completed within a reasonable amount of time so products can be shipped promptly. Defining what is “reasonable” for internal customer standards takes time, but the end results are well worth the time investment. When employees know their fellow team members are doing their best to uphold service standards, they can all proceed more confidently.
Remember the Importance of Training
Simply saying you want “faster turnaround” from shipping or billing isn’t sufficient. Expectations need to be clearly defined. And once these standards are defined, it’s absolutely essential to develop appropriate training to help team members meet the expectations placed on them. Again, this requires an investment of time up front, but the results are worth it. Training may involve teaching team members how their work interacts with the work of other departments, or training them to use software skillfully, or training them to follow-up so they can be confident a workflow carries on as expected after it is out their hands.
The Right Workflow Automation Software Is Necessary
Workflow automation software can make all the difference when it comes to serving both the internal customer and the external customer. Use of a powerful, flexible workflow designer means that customer service reps can care for external customers proficiently, while departments within your organization can do their work efficiently and take care of their internal customers with expertise.
Overhauling manual, paper-based workflows is one of the most important steps an organization can take in serving both internal and external customers well. Not only does record keeping become easier and faster, error rates drop and retrieving information about completed processes is fast, no longer requiring a search through folders stored in a filing cabinet.
PerfectForms is workflow automation software that turns your process users into workflow designers. PerfectForms’ intuitive user interface and the fact that it doesn’t require programming mean that the people who actually use workflows on a regular basis can design them to meet their exact needs.
Once you automate that first clunky, paper-based process with electronic forms, you’ll instantly see countless ways to apply workflow automation software to the processes that go on in your business every day. We invite you to read over some of our case studies and see just how much flexibility and power PerfectForms brings to businesses in a huge range of industries.
The dictionary definition of “agility” is the capability to move quickly and easily. In a business context, agility has more to do with how projects are managed, with major tasks being broken down into discrete phases, and plans can be adapted on the fly as needed. Sounds a lot like business process management (BPM) and workflow development, doesn’t it?
Agility is something a lot of companies talk about, but claiming to be agile and actually being agile are two different things. Following through requires effort and strategy but, with the right BPM tool, you can build agility right into your processes. That way, when changes are necessary they can be made with minimal upheaval, so you can start enjoying the benefits right away.
When Processes Become “Stuck”
The business environment of today demands agility because the digital transformation has made new things possible, at a faster rate than ever. Businesses that succeed are the ones that use dynamic processes that are able to evolve as customer needs evolve. Currently, an estimated 70% of high-performing companies use BPM software to ensure processes remain streamlined and relevant, and agility is not compromised.
Processes can become stuck in inefficiency because of inertia. The thinking goes, “We’ve always done it this way. This way works, so why change?” But this presents its own set of risks. Part of successful BPM is a commitment to continual improvement, and this requires evaluating processes regularly to ensure all the steps are still relevant and correcting course if necessary. The BPM tool that facilitates a collection of and reporting on process analytics makes this re-evaluation process easier, so they’re less likely to become stuck, and competitors are less likely to gain an advantage.
Maintaining Agility Requires Directed Effort
We all know how difficult it can be to break out of personal habits. We make the spaghetti sauce a certain way because it’s how we learned, for example. But sometimes everyone is better off when we question why we do things a certain way and commit to trying something new. This is true at home and in business. Maintaining business agility requires recognition of the fact that agility is desirable and commitment to making changes that better align business processes with the demands of the market and the customer.
Multiple technologies are available to assist with agility. For example, any cloud-hosted software makes scaling processes up or down simple, and mobile-friendly tools help maximize employee productivity. Collaboration software keeps geographically dispersed teams in sync, and the right BPM software makes it easy to modify business processes without excessive disruption.
How BPM Software Helps You Sustain Agility
Choose your BPM software wisely, and you take an enormous step toward maintaining business agility. When your BPM tools allow you to gain an instant overview of a process, including all the discrete steps that make it up, identifying and correcting bottlenecks is easier, and so is eliminating superfluous steps.
If, say, a government or industry regulation changes, great BPM software allows you to easily modify processes so you remain in compliance without losing your pace. If your customers demand more shipping options, you can modify the order process quickly and accurately. If two parts of your supply chain merge into one, reconfiguring your process to take advantage of the situation is easy.
PerfectForms is the BPA tool that helps businesses like yours achieve and maintain process agility. Right from the start, the intuitive user interface makes it easy to create online forms and workflows, with process visibility front and center for all authorized process users. The powerful, drag-and-drop interface also makes it easy to modify processes as needs change. And all this can be done without programming, so process “owners” and users – and not the software package – determine how processes are designed and implemented.
Business process management isn’t just for huge enterprises. In fact, smaller organizations can benefit disproportionately from the right BPM software. Since PerfectForms offers cloud hosting, scaling is fast and simple. We encourage you to read some of our case studies and see how PerfectForms has helped organizations across a wide range of industries improve processes, operate more efficiently, save time, and realize healthier revenues.
Whether or not your business is based on e-commerce, you probably have online forms. If you run a B2B company, those forms are probably landing page forms and other types of registration forms that you use in the process of lead generation. For B2C companies, order forms are probably the most important of your online forms.
Like it or not, your online forms affect how your brand is perceived. If it looks as if you’ve spent a lot of resources on a splashy site, but your forms are lackluster, it will give people pause. To create online forms that draw the right kind of attention, you have to consider your overall brand strategy and plan forms accordingly.
Get the Look and Feel Right
Your brand probably has certain color schemes, fonts, logos, and other identifying features, and your online forms should have these features as well. This way the people using your online forms have continuity of experience throughout your site. When you create online forms, make sure their look and feel are in harmony with the rest of your branding. Dull, strictly-business forms can make interested parties feel like once they have your attention, they don’t bother to try and make their experience enjoyable.
A/B Testing Can Reveal Surprising Insights
Sometimes the only way to find out which version of a form works best is to test both versions. Something as small as the wording on your “Submit” button (which, by the way, should rarely just read “Submit”) can make a measurable difference in how many people click through. You’re also wise to keep forms as brief as possible, particularly if you have a lot of people accessing your site via mobile. When people see a huge, detailed form standing between them and the content or the merchandise they’re interested in, they can tune out surprisingly fast.
Mobile Friendliness Is Essential
Keeping forms brief is part of your mobile friendliness approach, but there are many other things you can do as well. The less typing your mobile users have to do, and the more they can simply tap on a button, or use drop-down menus, the better. With every year that passes, fewer people encounter information about their favorite brands in a desktop or laptop environment and more access that content on a tablet or phone. Your online forms should display perfectly on a range of devices and should recognize the fact that many users won’t have the benefit of a full-sized keyboard when completing them.
Where You Place Your Forms Is Important.
While there’s nothing wrong with putting contact information or other brief forms on the same page as your blog posts, you should also have some web real estate dedicated to a landing page and other information gathering forms. Again, A/B testing can tell you which location for a form gets the most action. These tests don’t always confirm what your hunches suggest, so keep an open mind and be prepared to create online forms accordingly. Make them easy to find, and easy to submit, particularly on landing pages, where you should forego your usual navigation menus so that the user’s attention is on form completion.
When you create online forms using software like PerfectForms, you can be confident they look perfect and perform exactly as you need them to. PerfectForms requires no programming and allows you to drag and drop form elements into place, including logos and graphics, and of course you can use the fonts and colors that you normally use in your branding. That way your forms and other parts of your website form a harmonious whole.
PerfectForms also offers mobile-friendliness, which is essential in today’s business world. And modifying forms is easy, so you can do A/B testing without major upheaval. Best of all, you can test drive PerfectForms for free by signing up for a free trial. See how easy it can be to create online forms that your customers and leads will be happy to encounter.
Companies that are just starting up and dealing with constrained budgets are happy for solutions like Google Forms, which allows them to create electronic forms online. In the first days of a company’s life, keeping costs down is often a top priority, and finding low-cost or free solutions can help them keep going until revenues allow for better solutions.
But such solutions, like Google Forms, are easily outgrown as businesses expand. Google Forms is part of Google’s online apps suite and is free and easy to use. It can be a great way to save data directly to a spreadsheet, but many organizations that use it find that they soon need more than what Google Forms offers. Here are 5 reasons why Google Forms falls short as a workflow management solution.
1. Notifications Are Too Limited for Most Organizations
Workflow managers need to know when a new entry of some kind has been submitted via a form but turning Google Forms into a comprehensive workflow designer is neither easy nor straightforward. And notifications are often inadequate to the task. While you can enable an email notification for the creator of the form when a form is submitted, nobody else is notified. In other words, if you have a workflow built around the forms, the next person whose input is needed in the process isn’t notified, just the form creator. Hence, notifications must still be handled via phone, email, text, or some other way.
2. Permissions Are Not Customizable Enough for Many
With Google forms, you can label users as editors or not, and it applies to the entire set of data included in that form. Should you want to, for example, allow certain users to edit certain fields but not others, you’ll need more advanced workflow tools. What’s more, if you want some fields of a form to be hidden from certain viewers (such as hiding approval fields from people who aren’t authorized to grant approval), you can’t do that. If someone has permission to edit your Google Form, he or she has permission to edit all of it.
3. Moving Already-Processed Data Is a Chore
Workflow tools help ensure that the data that arrives via form gets copied and/ or moved to where it needs to go automatically. Say your Google Form dumps form data into a spreadsheet, but you want that data moved out of that spreadsheet as soon as it has been acted upon (for example, if an order has been packed). Moving that data out is a manual process, and mistakes can cause problems for your employees and customers. Ideally, you want your workflow designer to get data to where it needs to go automatically when it has been processed.
4. Tracking May Be Inadequate
Timestamps on spreadsheets are great, and Google Forms can timestamp a spreadsheet every time a form is completed and data is dumped into the spreadsheet. But that’s it. You don’t have a way to track data as it flows through other steps of the process. Most businesses need workflow tools that automatically track when, say, an order goes from the warehouse to shipping, or when approval is granted to a particular request. Currently, these tasks have to be done manually with Google Forms, so they’re time-intensive and subject to human error.
5. You’ll Probably Need Better Reporting Options
While Google Forms does have report creation capability, it may not be enough for your organization. While you can easily print out the Google Spreadsheet where the form data is stored, this may not be a useful format. A form publisher add-on is available to keep “reports” from being printouts of raw data, but if you need reports to show regulation compliance, or to present to the board during a budget planning meeting, you may not have what you need. Most companies need a workflow designer that makes it easy to create aesthetically pleasing, engaging reports that tell a story at a glance.
PerfectForms offers workflow tools that address all the shortcomings of Google Forms and then some. It allows you to create pixel-perfect online forms and workflows with a simple drag-and-drop interface, complete with automatic notifications and outstanding reporting options. What’s more, it integrates easily with many software packages you already use (including spreadsheets). We invite you to watch our demo video so you can get an idea of the tremendous power and flexibility that PerfectForms offers.
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a value that can be measured to demonstrate how well an organization is achieving important business objectives. The KPI is essential to evaluating success in achieving goals.
Key performance indicators help you keep your organization on track to achieve its goals.
When you automate workflows, measuring KPIs before and after automation helps you learn how automation affects things like process time, which in turn affects production and revenues. Popular KPIs include measures like:
- Percentage of processes run to completion
- Average process time to completion
- Error rate
- Web traffic rates
- Customer conversion rates
Whatever KPIs your organization chooses, they should align with your strategic organizational goals, they should be attainable, they should be calculated using dependable, accurate data, they should provide actionable insights, and they should evolve as your business does.
Collect Quick Workflow Insights Automatically
One of the simplest metrics most organizations use regularly is a measure of where, exactly, a workflow process stands at a given time. For example, an administrative worker may check on an automated process and discover that it is currently awaiting the approval of a department head, after which it will immediately be sent to Finance for action.
The type of workflow automation software you select can make an enormous difference in how easy it is to get quick workflow insights and transparency. In fact, transparency into workflow statuses is one of the most important features organizations look for in workflow solutions. Simply being able to determine how far along a process is without having to make phone calls or otherwise track people down can save significant amounts of time.
The Convenience of a Reporting Portal
Suppose your company uses a number of separate, but related workflows, and you need to make comprehensive reports based on data collected from some or all of those workflows. Choose workflow automation software that makes it easy to build a custom report portal so that you can easily create reports drawing from any data you collect.
Suppose the Finance department needs to collect cost data from processes in several departments. With a custom report portal, authorized persons could gain access to the data they need, regardless of department, and use it to quickly assemble a report on cost data that’s accurate and up-to-the-minute in terms of timeliness.
KPI-Based Reporting for Continual Improvement
One of the reasons for KPI-based reporting (and the need for workflow solutions in general) is the pursuit of continual improvement. KPI-based reports can help process users and process managers determine where slowdowns and bottlenecks occur in processes so that processes can be modified to fix them.
Organizations that enjoy the strongest competitive advantages are not the ones that automate processes and then leave them that way once and for all time. Since customers, markets, and technologies change, processes must change too, to eliminate inefficiencies and keep the competitive edge sharp at all times.
Often, when choosing workflow solutions, business professionals focus the majority of their attention on workflow automation software that is best at automating processes. And while this is, of course, a primary reason for workflow solutions, it is reasonable to expect more than just automation. The workflow solutions that help businesses flourish for the long term are the ones that offer easy, powerful, built-in reporting capabilities.
When your workflow automation software makes it easy to customize KPIs, collect data, analyze, and report on it, you can be confident you have a solution with a great return on investment. PerfectForms is a leader among workflow solutions because it is flexible, powerful, and easy to customize to your organization’s needs.
What’s more, PerfectForms offers outstanding reporting capabilities, whether you want quick insights into workflows and their status, or whether you need to create in-depth reports that really drill down into the data. Have a look at our demo video and see for yourself how PerfectForms answers the need for workflow automation software that works for you – not the other way around!
Email has long been a primary communication mode, both personally and professionally. It’s a common way to relay work-related information and, as a result, emails often accumulate unread in inboxes. The main difference between bi-directional communication forms (phone calls and real-time chats) and emails is that each email is discrete and has its own ID. While a chat conversation may build upon itself, an email “conversation” accumulates a discrete message for each participant’s contribution.
This is excellent for keeping records, but it can result in unwieldy amounts of email that become increasingly daunting to the recipient. So-called email bankruptcy is the process of deleting all emails older than a certain date because the volume of messages has become unwieldy. With the right workflow tools, however, you need never turn to the drastic solution of email bankruptcy. Here’s how tools you already have, plus workflow automation software, can help you avoid email bankruptcy in 2017.
Simple Email Routing
Whether you use Outlook, Thunderbird, Gmail, or some other email client, you have access to built-in tools that let you automatically route emails so that they are easier to cope with. Most have “wizards” that step you through the process of creating email filters that sort your email for you. Messages from certain senders can be routed to a particular folder or flagged as important. You could, for instance, create a filter so that emails from the timekeeping clerk go to a special timekeeping folder and another one that flags emails from your supervisor as urgent.
To filter responses to emails you send, assign a keyword (like a project codename) to certain contacts, and put this keyword in your email signature to relevant correspondents. Responses that contain the keyword can be tagged or routed appropriately via a filter.
Automatically Responding to Actions by Potential Customers
Simple email filtering is great and should be part of managing your daily workload, but, for most people, it isn’t enough. Additional workflow tools are needed to truly tap into efficiency gains related to email automation. With the right workflow automation software, you can create automated email workflows that can be triggered by any number of events. For example, a specific workflow could be initiated when:
- Someone submits a form on your website
- Someone clicks a link in an email you sent them
- Someone visits a particular web page
- Someone fulfills criteria as a “marketing qualified lead”
Such workflows are indispensable in ensuring that no potential customers are inadvertently neglected or slip through the cracks.
Initiating a Lead Nurturing Workflow
Suppose someone new has downloaded several of your “top-of-the-funnel” pieces of content. This can indicate a lead that is warming up and should be encouraged. Workflow automation software can help nudge these valuable new contacts a bit further down the sales funnel. An email workflow could be created to send new leads emails containing links to middle-of-the-funnel content that may ultimately “promote” them to marketing qualified leads.
It’s easy to create an email workflow that welcomes a new lead and offers them a free bonus, such as access to a webinar, or a special report that they wouldn’t find just from browsing your site.
Trigger Delivery of Pertinent Content
If you are, for example, hosting a live webinar or an in-person event, email workflows can ensure that all participants receive timely reminders as well as any helpful content they will need. For an in-person event, your automated email workflow could deliver information on hotel accommodations well in advance and then send other information, like schedule information at appropriate times leading up to the event. If you’re hosting a webinar, the right workflow tools will allow you to give participants access to session slides when it’s over, ensuring nobody is left out.
Make Your Email Work Hard for You
Dealing with email should not be a chore for you. In fact, with the right workflow automation software, you can make your email work hard for you. PerfectForms is workflow automation software designed for non-technical users, with no programming required.
Flexible enough to customize to interact with your email client and other software, and powerful enough to accelerate workflows and cut error rates, PerfectForms has helped companies in a wide range of industries conquer email workflows as well as countless other workflows. Take a look at some of our case studies and discover for yourself how the right workflow tools can transform an organization.
Office holiday parties are treasured traditions at most workplaces, and the best ones have been carefully planned rather than thrown together. In times past this “planning” may have been done with a sign-up sheet taped to the break room door, which was far from ideal. It was all too easy to misjudge the number of plates you’d need the caterer to provide, or the number of toys “Santa” would need to hand out to employee children.
Online forms are the answer to office holiday party planning problems. The right form builder software allows you to create custom forms that gather information automatically. These forms can be put to an almost limitless variety of uses, and they can make things far easier on the people tasked with putting together the event. Here are some ways online forms can help you plan your company holiday event.
Learn What Type Function Employees Want
Maybe the department administrative assistant has received multiple holiday party ideas from employees, but there will only be time and budget for one. Online forms containing a simple poll are a simple way to find out how many employees prefer a potluck lunch and how many prefer a cocktail party with a gift exchange. Your form builder software should allow you to automatically gather “votes” and tally them, so you can be confident that whatever type of company holiday event you plan, it will be one most people prefer.
Gather RSVPs with Online Forms
Once you have determined what type of event to have, and when and where to have it, you need to know how many people to expect. Again, online forms can be terrific for gathering and counting RSVPs. And if your event offers attendees a choice (such as chicken, roast, or a vegetarian entrée), your online forms can collect each attendee’s selection. With minimal effort, the point person for your holiday party planning can determine how many people to cater for, and how to allocate the different entrees. You could even distribute drink tickets via an online form.
Who Still Owes Money?
Many public-sector organizations are not allowed to spend organizational money on things like Christmas parties, and for these businesses and organizations, online forms can be great for keeping track of who has paid for their dinner, drinks, and other expenses. Suppose your nonprofit company runs an e-commerce division. Combine online forms with a secure payment portal, and collecting the money to pay for the party becomes significantly easier. If function attendees are asked to print out their own ticket once they have RSVP’d and paid, your online forms can be set up to only allow ticket printing for those with a confirmation number of having paid for their ticket.
Match Up Secret Santas with Ease
The Secret Santa matchup is popular in many organizations, because it adds fun to what can be a stressful time of year, and can be a great opportunity for people to get to know each other. If you expect sign-ups for Secret Santa to come in over a matter of days, you can set up a workflow that matches the name on a submitted participation form to the next name that comes into the system. Then you match the last name that is entered with the very first one so everyone is assigned to someone. You could also use online forms to collect information from participants about favorite colors, hobbies, and other information that will help their Secret Santa choose an appropriate gift.
Form builder software isn’t only about purchase orders and fringe benefits administration, but can also be used to plan company social events, like the annual holiday party. PerfectForms is a specialized form builder software that is powerful, flexible, and intuitive enough to take on this task with ease. To create a custom form, simply drag and drop elements into place. You can also add graphics, logos, and other extras that set forms apart and make them look just how you want.
With PerfectForms, you can deploy workflow applications to take care of tasks like counting RSVPs, determining what each participant is bringing to a potluck, or gathering data the caterer will need to ensure everyone attending is included. And did you know you can try out PerfectForms for free? Sign up for a free trial and see for yourself how powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use PerfectForms is, for everything from critical business forms to organizing office social events.
When you first start a business, you often develop processes based on necessity. Funds and staff may be limited, and workflows develop on an ad hoc basis. This is fine and necessary, at least at first. But as your business gains traction and begins to grow, those processes may become the standard for accomplishing tasks for no reason other than habit.
In some instances, your employees know on some level that a workflow is flawed, but modifying a workflow can be difficult in a busy environment when there’s no time to take a hard look at what’s causing problems. Unfortunately, “the way we’ve always done it” sometimes carries disproportionate weight, and far more efficient workflows are simply not considered. But periodically evaluating workflows to see how they can be improved is a worthwhile investment of time. Here’s how.
Evaluate Baseline Workflow Speed
It’s hard to know where to go if you don’t know where you are now. Suppose your process for creating invoices is taking long enough to affect cash flow. You have a set way of making invoices – one that you and your original business partner came up with. It was perfect when there were only two of you serving a handful of clients, but now you have a staff of ten and your client load has grown significantly too. Break down your invoicing process into discrete steps and define the reasoning for each step.
Determine how long your invoice creation process takes. You could do this by recording the date the invoice process begins and the date it’s completed. Or you could have each and every person involved in the process record the time and date of their action on a piece of paper attached to the form. The goal is to obtain a baseline measurement of your workflow speed.
Identify Bottlenecks and Their Causes
There may be steps in your process that could be combined or omitted altogether. Other steps may be automated with workflow designer software. For example, rather than departmental approval requiring a paper form signed by hand, an automated form could be generated, along with a notification email for the department head, who can then sign the form electronically from her desk, phone, or tablet.
If physical processes based on paper take too long due to your workforce being on the move much of the time, mobile-friendly electronic workflows can free up this type of bottleneck significantly. If one person in a process is overwhelmed by the step he is responsible for, it may be time to consider adding staff or hiring an assistant for that person.
Use Workflow Tools to Streamline and Automate
With the right workflow tools, you can create your own custom electronic workflows rather than being locked into pre-defined workflows that may not be ideal for your organization. Workflow designer software doesn’t have to require programming expertise to totally transform your business processes. With today’s workflow tools, you can create sleek, efficient processes based on the needs of the people who use the processes every day. And since the workflow users can create their own workflows, you can be more confident that the workflows will meet everyone’s needs, and not just the IT department’s.
Evaluate Gains and Modify Workflows Accordingly
Once you have modified and / or automated a workflow, it’s time to compare its performance to your original workflow. Have the bottlenecks been widened? Have error-prone manual steps been automated? Are key people notified automatically when their input is needed? How long does the process take from end to end now, compared to before?
Workflows rarely get into one groove and stay there permanently, because customers, staff, regulations, and many other factors change. Therefore, once you create a smooth-running workflow, you will still have to evaluate it periodically to be certain that it still meets your needs.
PerfectForms is the workflow designer that doesn’t require any programming for the creation of custom electronic survey forms and workflows. Furthermore, you can make your forms and workflows mobile friendly, so your team members don’t have to be sitting in front of a computer to take care of their tasks. Imagine how much faster business travel reimbursement could be if your employees who travel frequently could submit expenses conveniently, right from their mobile device. We would love for you to take a look at some of our case studies, to see exactly how PerfectForms revolutionizes workflows, and how much it can save organizations in terms of time and money.
Running a one-person business may sound lonely and non-lucrative, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. People have turned one-person businesses into million dollar businesses, though most remain smaller than that. The number of single-person businesses has increased due in large part to technology evolution that allows one person to accomplish more without necessarily making a huge infrastructure or capital investment.
In 2014, there were nearly 33,000 single-person operations in the U.S. that brought in from $1million to $2.49 million, and this represents an 11% increase from 2013 figures. The total number of single-person businesses in 2014 was nearly 24 million, and the number continues to grow as more people develop innovative ways to go into business for themselves.
With a “staff” of only yourself, do you really need workflow tools to help you run your business? In many cases, the answer is yes. With all the responsibility on your shoulders, having the right tools can help you develop your clientele, build a strong reputation, and differentiate your business from competitors. Here are some ways workflow automation software can assist the one-person business.
Online Forms Can Help with Inbound Marketing
Many solo operations depend upon inbound marketing to bring in new leads and customers. They carefully craft a website with landing pages designed to appeal to very specific potential customer profiles. What happens to data entered into landing pages is critical. Once the customer enters his email address and company name and downloads your position paper, the data entered by the potential customer can be directed to any number of destinations. It could be funneled directly into your customer relationship management (CRM) system or your email newsletter list, for example. Workflow automation software makes this process simple and straightforward.
Coordinate E-commerce with Predictable Workflows
When an order comes into your one-person e-commerce shop, what happens to it? Maybe you get an email notification on your phone and make a mental note to process the order later. Suppose, however, that you direct order information to an app that tells you exactly which shelf you’ll find the ordered item on. Shipping information can be made to automatically create a packing slip and shipping label. Once you ship the item, tracking numbers can be entered one time to allow both you and your customer to track the order. You can even use workflow tools to collect customer feedback so you can fine-tune your product mix.
Track Invoices with Precision
If you provide professional services, from legal services to catering to custom clothing alterations, then you know the value of prompt, accurate invoicing in preventing cash flow problems. You can use workflow automation software to create a mobile form on which you enter information about the supplies you purchase for a customer service. Rather than having to manually enter it when calculating an invoice, your workflow tools can send the information directly to the spreadsheet or invoicing software you use, so you avoid mistakes and ensure all your expenses are accounted for. You can also use workflow tools to streamline interactions with your suppliers.
Scale Up Easily as Your Business Grows
Workflow tools hosted in the cloud make it easy to scale up if you should take on a partner or employee. With cloud-hosted workflow automation software, you can expand access to all your workflow tools almost instantly, so there’s no waiting around for software to be manually installed on a physical computer for your partner or employee to use. And if you have a business that only takes on helpers seasonally, scaling down once your busy season is over is just as easy as scaling up, because cloud software is generally sold on a monthly subscription basis.
PerfectForms provides the non-technical user with workflow management software tools that can be customized to a nearly limitless variety of uses. By creating online forms and workflows, and automating processes, your one-person business can be faster and more efficient, with more accurate recordkeeping. Have a look at the PerfectForms demo and see how flexible, powerful, and affordable it is. Often it’s the “little things” that separate wildly successful one-person businesses from the rest, and when you know you can take care of inbound marketing, order handling, invoicing, and other tasks with ease, you’re freer to focus your energies on your unique skills and talents.