Designing a digital workflow for your office

May 14th 2020

What is a digital workflow?

A digital workflow documents and supports the way people get work done. Often, digital workflows are for activities you do on a regular basis, with an expected set of inputs and outputs.

How do I turn my normal workflow into a digital workflow?

The key difference in a normal workflow and digital workflow is leveraging technology to optimise or automate your workflow where possible. A digital workflow also typically includes supporting resources, such as digital guidelines to assist teams with carrying out the business process.

Do digital workflows save time?

Digital workflows can save a lot of time by using technology to simplify your business processes, and automation to reduce the amount of steps you need to manually carry out. For example, part of your automation could include using a tool like Zapier to automatically add emails with a certain subject line to a spreadsheet, or accounting software like Xero which can automatically send invoice reminders. If you or your team spends a lot of their time every day doing the same repetitive tasks, automation in a digital workflow could possibly save you countless hours of administration. 

What other ways do offices benefit from a digital workflow?

Aside from saving you time, digital workflows can also save your office money by not only your reduced amount of hours spent on repeated tasks, but also improved data accuracy and visibility, enabling you to make better business decisions. A digital workflow also cultivates a shared knowledge base, making it easier to train new people and retain your team’s valuable skill set.

How do I create a digital workflow for my office?

How you create an effective digital workflow will depend on your office, but here a few general guidelines to follow:

1. Document your business processes

What does your workflow normally look like? Write down the steps you carry out for each of your business processes, pretend like you are writing these steps for a new hire that knows nothing about the job.

2. Identify technology opportunities

When you look through your documented business processes, consider where you could improve, simplify, or automate a step with technology. Here are a few ways you might do that:

Automating repetitive tasks

Can you set up email filters to automatically organise your inbox, or use a tool like Zapier to automatically do something in one app when you trigger an action in another? A lot of modern applications have opportunities to automate the basic tasks, saving you time.

Improving data analysis

Do you have any way of seeing the status of your projects, what your team is working on, or to identify potential problems before they occur? By tracking your critical information in software such as Locale Central, a CRM like HubSpot, or another platform that provides business insights, you can leverage your data to make better business decisions.

Going paperless

Does your team complete routine checklists, or enter data into paper forms? By going paperless, you can improve productivity, and record data more accurately with less hassle on-site. Mobile data collection apps can enable your team to record data on-site with their own mobile phones, consider creating an account with Locale Central for free to give it a try.

Other documents can also be replaced with paperless solutions, such as managing receipts, purchase orders, and invoices in Xero. You can also opt to receive important documents from most companies by email instead of snail-mail, which can then be stored in a service like OneDrive, Google Drive, or DropBox.

3. Share your updated digital workflow

Document your digital workflow, make it easily accessible for your team, and start carrying out your business processes with the changes you have identified. Documentation for your digital workflow should be in a central place, such as Google Drive or Notion, keep your documentation updated as your business processes change and evolve.

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