How to successfully modernize your business workflows

Forbes recently produced a powerful article on how a business should look to overcome the

challenges of modernizing a business workflow.

As print, electronic and web distribution of information becomes ever more integrated, this article raises issues of engagement that will be new to many. Print is no longer an island or remote silo of dark arts and expertise, but part of a much wider, more open world.

We aim through this, and further articles aim to break down this into more manageable points, highlighting where opportunities exist and also where you should take extra care as the decisions made at some points may place you on another road or heading into a cul-de-sac.

These points represented what would be the significant stages in the workflow of a business looking to do just that. As a strategy it is a sound and clear high-level approach, however, the devil is in the detail and with a little pre-planning, some “low-hanging fruit” can be ‘picked’ during this potential larger undertaking.

These “low-hanging fruit” can allow you to better define the product. They are initial cost savings you can use to justify the project or, help you build your case. These opportunities should not be overlooked as there could be a significant investment in time and cost to simply identify step 1.

However, as we have seen with businesses globally, there are tricks, and tips you can employ to both start the ball rolling, but also provide you with a significant sign-off from the business owner.

Quantify the Cost Savings

In some businesses this may be an easy equation, by adding digital processes to existing working practices, you could remove an entire workflow from your business chain. For many clients, this may be more difficult, and the project may stall at step 1 simply because a projected saving or cost reduction cannot be measured, quantified, or even estimated.

Most business workflows have grown organically and as such may not have the inspection points and raw data to allow you to analyze the correct level. You may be asked to demonstrate the potential savings and provide data that could be reviewed once the project has been concluded.

Therefore, it’s very valuable to accurately establish your current costs and workflow. If you currently work on a project, we suggest you use the same tools that will also help in your transition phase, to firstly measure your current state and put in place metrics, costs, and inspection points to compare against any proposed and then installed revision. Doing it this way ensures your compare data correctly. It is also helpful if the tools that you use to measure the current state, can also help you achieve the goals and aims, in effect a ‘Swiss Army Knife’.

Understanding the current workflow, gathering full data, and then looking to identify costs within the current operation and you can then decide going forward if these are then removed, changed, or perhaps even increased.

Ensure Stakeholders understand the opportunities

Ensure that new opportunities are not viewed solely within the confines of the new project. For instance, don’t buy a calculator that only has the numbers 0 and 1 just because you work in binary, your colleague may want to total an invoice. Be prepared to ‘share’ software and technologies across the business enterprise.

Sometimes it may be difficult to qualify the impact to associated opportunities, you may be able to save 50% of your time with the new 0,1 calculator, but you have no idea how much this could help the other person, although you may not be able to list a $ amount, you should note the potential application for your change, you never know you may be helping the other person justify their project.

Be clear in what your objectives as, what your findings show and what your measurements,

conclusions are, endeavor to remain factual and avoid emotive reasons.

Also, if you do list associated tasks that may be helped by your changes, check that the

system/service can be used in that manner. We have seen many clients purchase software believing it can be used over the whole business find that they must purchase additional licenses or an upgrade that supports multiple users.

What is the cost of not doing the changes?

Another section you should look to include when you talk to Stakeholders is the ‘cost’ of not doing the project. Whilst staying as you are may seem ‘free’, everything has a cost and a value, using the same measurement system to qualify the potential costs, use that to determine the current, current +1 and current +5 costs in staying where you are.

We aim through further articles to break down how you can successfully modernize your business workflows into more manageable points. To see when we post the next article, follow us on LinkedIn.

Here at Skyline, we have worked on many projects, we use tools, systems, and data to help a client understand their current state and help them measure and apply the appropriate changes to help them to their desired goals. Our Swiss Army toolkit is also backup by real experience in many industry verticals.

For more information about workflow modernisation, and how Skyline can help, contact our team of experts