You’re so busy getting work done that it’s hard to stop and make sure you’re doing it in the most effective way. Yet a workflow review can deliver an amazing ROI when done right. If you never audit workflows, you’ll have no way to spot inefficiencies that could be costing you hundreds of hours of wasted effort every year.
Workflow evaluations don’t have to be tedious or involve flowcharts that cover the entire conference wall. You just need a simple workflow analysis that tracks work from beginning to end, so you can tell who is doing what and when, and where things could run more smoothly.
Here are the four main time wasters you want to root out when you audit your marketing team’s workflows:
Busy work or paper pushing
Are you sure that every report people create has value or even an audience? Are you sure you need to gather all the data you’re gathering? Does each action you require of your staff result in a payoff that makes it worth it?
Where you can, use templates, automation, and checklists to cut down on busy work and time-sucking administrative tasks. Make sure your people don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time they launch a project.
If you find you’re bogged down in busy work, ask your staff how they think it could be reduced. What about meetings? Are you sure each has a purpose? Ask team members what parts of the workflows feel are unnecessary. Together, you can come up with a plan to make those incremental adjustments that will mean all the difference in the long-term.
Search for places where people might be doing the same thing twice or duplicating efforts. Do team members have to enter in the same information in different systems? Inevitably, this will cause bottlenecks and inaccuracies in your information when the systems don’t match up. Use references and links to fill in information from one master source. When the information is changed at the source, it will automatically change everywhere.
Who are the people you find yourself waiting on or holding up the team? Your review cycles are a great place to start asking this question. If you have a manager or client who takes forever to get back to you, either fix that gap or plan for it to make sure the project doesn’t come to a standstill.
Or the opposite might be true: If you have a reviewer who will require multiple rounds of creative revision no matter how clean and polished the deliverable is, consider bringing them into the process earlier. You don’t want to be making beds in a house that’s about to be torn down.
The most meaningful changes
Constant improvement is essential, but focusing on granularity will only get you so far. If you’re managing, auditing and editing a dozen different creative brief templates, it may be more worthwhile to have a simple, flexible framework that can be used on several types of work and tweaked when necessary. Instantly, this simplifies your team’s work in a meaningful way across multiple projects. Alway be thinking: What changes can I make that will have the greatest impact and focus your auditing attention there.
At least four times a year, zoom all the way out to think about where you might be doing meaningless work, where you might be doing redundant work, who’s holding you up or making more work, and where you can really make a shift to get more done. Teams that commit to this workflow audit cycle will vastly outperform their competition.