A practical example of how to better understand office workflow.
Everybody talks about workflow. You have to have one; you have to document it; you have to improve it continuously; no workflow, no profit; and so on.
Let’s step back for a moment and ponder a bit on the term “workflow” so we can fully digest it, live it, and make money off it. Let me share a practical example. I love a good cuppa, a cup of tea that is. To get to this good cuppa, we need to consider the following:
1) Assessment (totally simplified): Do you have a kettle, a mug, a tea bag, milk, water, utilities paid, a spoon, optionally, sugar? What kind of tea satisfies your taste buds most, meets your budget requirements, stimulates your productivity best? The same goes for the mug and everything else. What outcome are you expecting? Strong/weak tea?
2) The workflow (still simplified): Get a kettle, mug, tea bags, milk, water, utilities, spoon, no sugar, I don’t like sugar. Add water to the kettle, switch it on (I prefer a plug-and-play version, utilities are paid), put a tea bag into the mug, pour boiling water over the tea bag in your mug, wait a bit (approximately three minutes), remove the tea bag, add some milk, take the spoon and stir it, inhale the fumes, wait a bit, enjoy the perfect cuppa, and get back to work. A bit later, rinse the mug and the spoon, go back to start.
3) Real-life (pretty simplified): When reading the above, you’ll most likely think, what a stupid comparison. However, do me a favor and think about it once again. To increase our productivity, for example, the outcomes of a meeting, part of the meeting workflow is that we drink coffee and tea, and the steps to get from zero to hero tea/coffee are so clear, so repeatable we don’t waste a single thought on them.
Now, imagine how you would help a customer structure their work. They require improved productivity and profitability, but how do they get there, every day, week, month, year? You get there by having a structured workflow that includes all necessary resources, hardware, software, teams, SLAs, etc., describes who is doing what and when, documents exceptions, and prepares for emergencies.
Many of your customers will have something in place they consider a workflow. However, only a few will have gone through a methodological approach to understanding the status quo, requirements, outcomes, and obstacles, and have gone through the sometimes painful and laborious process of visualizing and documenting their workflow process. Do you see where you come in?
4) Eliminate Surprises (of course, simplified): Why go through this exercise if it all works? I hear you, and for just a cup of tea, I pretty much agree with you. But think about the future of customer relationships, security, customer journeys, continuous business, trust, and transformation.
By taking on the workflow challenges for and with your customer you can secure both their and your futures. Being amid the digital transformation age, I expect my trusted dealership to help me understand what I’m doing, what my assets are, what my headaches are, what I can do better (hardware, software, processes), and ultimately prepare me for more changes to come. You are well-positioned to help your customers understand and overcome the challenge of technology changes, changes to legal requirements (Hello Europe, hello GDPR!), proof of money investment, and revenue. You can use smart tools to capture, evaluate, improve, and visualize what’s going on in their company, and implement a user- and management-friendly MIS for real-time visualization and informed decision-making, which, of course, should include more help from you going forward.
5) The end (back to simplicity): Let’s get back to the tea example. I have no clue how to make a proper cup of Joe, but I’m happy to share my cuppa workflow with you if you share your Joe workflow with me; and then, let’s rock ‘n’ roll the office content and communication workflow.
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