It’s Not Broken, But Maybe You Should Fix It Anyway
It’s possible that your company has developed solid workflows that make sense. But that doesn’t mean they are ideal. Everything changes, and technology changes more rapidly than almost anything else.
The lesson of Kodak is often brought up as an example of dangerous resistance to change, since the company rejected one of their engineer’s designs for a DSLR camera back in 1989. The fear was if digital cameras caught on, it would ruin the film business. Kodak made money off the digital camera patent, but by the time that patent ran out, film was dead, and Kodak hadn’t sufficiently embraced digital photography until it was too late.
Likewise, while you shouldn’t change workflows for the sake of change, you should periodically revisit them and see if you’re getting everything you can from them.
Are You Maximizing Efficiency?
Older computers running older software may not present any problems, since you’ve built workflows around them, and everyone knows what to do. But how might you gain efficiency if you upgraded? If current workflows mix digital and paper steps, what could you gain by creating fully automated workflows?
Do your employees have to return to their desks to fill out online forms? Certainly, this is faster than returning to their desk to manually fill out paper forms and deliver them. But what if they could complete online forms away from their desk, in the field, while traveling, or at a client location, for example?
Could Changes Produce a Strong Return on Investment?
Even the easiest technological transitions produce upheaval. But sometimes a major change can produce a major return on investment. Suppose your accounting clerk is leaving or retiring. Might it be a sound investment to acquire software that can scan invoices into the accounts payable system? It may represent an initial investment in the tens of thousands of dollars, but depending on what you would have to pay a new clerk, you could see a return on that investment within the year, and for every year afterward.
Often, ROI isn’t blindingly obvious, as it would be in the previous example. Perhaps changing workflows to automate steps that used to be manual won’t make a huge difference in costs. But over time, a savings of a few dollars every time a frequently used process is done can add up significantly. Complacency can ultimately cost you money and dull your competitive edge.
Revisit Workflows Regularly and Keep Up with Technology
Keeping up with technology isn’t just for the IT people. Business owners and managers should make it a point to understand how technology is advancing and ask questions about how it might be used. You don’t want to be tweaking workflows every week, but once or twice a year is reasonable and will help you stay with the latest, most efficient capabilities. Revisit workflows with the people who actually use them day-in and day-out. They can tell you exactly where the bottlenecks are, and can often suggest ways that those bottlenecks could be widened.
You Don’t Necessarily Have to Be an Early Adopter
In the decade since the iPhone made its debut, the rate of technological change has been dizzying. Some contend that the rate of change in technology now exceeds our ability to adapt. Even if you had all the money in the world to adopt new technologies, doing so would be too much, too fast.
It’s fine to let the early adopters get their hands on new technologies and identify its advantages and disadvantages. But you shouldn’t necessarily wait until your existing processes and technologies are inoperable before upgrading. The flip-phones or Blackberry devices you assigned to employees a decade ago may theoretically still do what you need them to, but think how much more you can do when you make informed changes to technologies and the workflows that involve them.
PerfectForms is workflow software that allows companies like yours to create online forms and automated workflows, so they serve your needs, and not the other way around. It offers mobile-friendliness and integration with other business systems, and allows you to modify workflows to accommodate changes to your personnel, processes, or technology. And how’s this for return on investment: You can try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. Your workflows may not be broken, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be measurably improved.