How to Scale Up a Workflow While Minimizing Disruption
Confronting scalability for the first time can be a heady, yet intimidating situation for a new business to find itself in. Demand for your products or services rises – just as you hoped it would – and perhaps you wonder how you will cope with increased demand.
The thing about scalability is that it isn’t only about producing more products or serving more customers. It’s also about preserving your brand and your uniqueness, and ensuring that a larger customer base has the same quality of experience that your earlier, smaller customer base did.
Businesses that don’t plan responsible scaling risk losing what makes them unique when they have to mass produce products or services to meet demand. With automated workflows, however, along with outstanding workflow software, scaling doesn’t have to be such a risky endeavor.
Reasons Scaling Up Becomes an Issue
Scaling up production can become an issue when you simply don’t have the personnel to meet demand. It can also become problematic when you assume that scaling up is simply a matter of doing “more” at every stage of a workflow. Though workflows are composed of discrete steps, each step isn’t equal in terms of how easy it is to scale up.
Suppose a workflow includes a step where a product is closely examined and inspected so you can be confident it meets your strict quality criteria. In a small business, a single inspector may be adequate for the job. But when you scale up, you probably can’t expect a single inspector to double or triple their workload without affecting the speed of the overall workflow. This is why it’s so important to understand the ease or difficulty in scaling up each specific workflow step.
What Are the Consequences of Scaling Up Each Workflow Step?
Printing out a batch of 50 packing slips may not take much longer than printing out a batch of 10. Therefore, scaling this step up is relatively easy. On the other hand, inspecting 50 products for flaws will take significantly longer than inspecting 10, unless the inspection process can be shortened in some way. When you want to scale up an entire workflow, you have to understand the potential for some steps to scale up with ease, while others scale up with more difficulty. It’s nobody’s fault, but it means that “scaling up” requires more effort with some steps of a workflow than with others.
Bottlenecks May Not Become Apparent at First
When you initially scale up a workflow, sheer enthusiasm may be enough to keep everything on track and raise productivity. But that initial enthusiasm can’t be expected to last forever. The person who is struggling to cope with an increased workload has a different take on things than the person whose productivity can increase without a major increase in time devoted to it.
Left unchecked, bottlenecks can develop, and people may have a hard time understanding what the problem is. After all, the first week of producing twice as many products went fine. Why are bottlenecks just now showing up? Unfortunately, scaling may require some steps to become far more effort-intensive, to a degree that is unsustainable in the long run. It’s important to understand where and how bottlenecks in production can develop.
Workflow Software Should Offer Flexibility to Adapt and Scale
Excellent workflow software is the foundation of good scalability, because it offers the flexibility a company needs to adapt workflows to changing demands. Suppose your company has to hire an additional inspector to prevent bottlenecks. Your workflow software should allow you to modify the process so that work is distributed evenly between the two inspectors, keeping the workflow on schedule.
Without the right workflow software, automated workflows may not scale well, and this can present serious business problems. PerfectForms is workflow software that offers users tremendous flexibility and power to create customized workflows that can grow and adapt as requirements evolve. With an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, PerfectForms makes workflow design and modification straightforward, helping you scale each step of a workflow appropriately. We encourage you to read through some of our many case studies and see how the right workflow software allows businesses and other organizations to scale effectively, for growth that works for everyone.