My business success depends on working efficiently with other companies and individuals. Still, in the past, I structured my business processes as if I were a lone wolf. Every time I developed a process that didn't take others into account and was effective for me alone, I risked catastrophe. Fortunately, as a business process improvement writer, I've been exposed to a bevy of tools that I've adapted for the size and scope of my business and used to future-proof my operations.
I hope these innovations are as helpful for you as they've been for me!
Low Code App Development
Mobile apps are all the rage, but it never occurred to me that I could build one. Instead, I spent hours pouring over existing solutions that I could never quite customize the right way.
Low or no-code application development involves leveraging a software solution to create an app that solves a specific business problem without prior coding or programming knowledge.
I built my first app for financial reporting in less than two weeks. It's designed precisely for the way I work with my accountant, and greatly streamlines our interactions!
By automating my processes for everything ... I've saved my business an inordinate amount of time and resources.
Workflow and Collaboration Tools
I work on multiple virtual teams, all with different workflows. Although I'm an organized person, using too many collaboration tools (or worse, no tools at all) was confusing and led to small tasks slipping into the ether.
Today, I employ a tool that allows me to manage several teams and projects at once and do so according to individual needs. By updating and visually displaying tasks, communication and project goals in real time, I maintain a space shuttle view of my own master workflow and make it easy for team members to work with me no matter where in the world we are.
Product Roadmap Management
One of the hallmarks of an agile business is continuous iteration. You don't plan a product, execute that plan once and then leave your result alone for all eternity. (And yes, I'll admit this is how I used to do things.)
Now, though, I see it's important to have a flexible process that keeps pace with market demands by facilitating initial design, tweaking, testing, collecting feedback and tweaking some more.
By using software to help my business move more quickly, I can deliver on product improvement promises in weeks as opposed to months or years.
Manual Process Automation
Bots are pieces of code that perform specific business tasks, and I've learned to use virtual personal assistant bots for business process improvement.
By automating my processes for everything from requesting interview sources and commissioning a new piece of software to submitting tax information to interested parties and following up on delayed client deliverables, I've saved my business an inordinate amount of time and resources.
The key to effective manual process automation? If you use enterprise management and communication systems like Salesforce and Zendesk, make sure your bots can speak to and integrate with them.
Forms were once my devil's work. Just a short time ago, I sent contracts, statements of work, noncompetes, and nondisclosure agreements back and forth a million times before coming up with final, executed versions that I'd proceed to lose.
Fortunately, today's document tracking software streamlines online and offline data collection so that I can trace a document's progress through its full lifecycle from initial generation to editing to redlining and final approval. The eSignature capability alone must have saved me hundreds of administrative hours a year, but I also value knowing exactly where critical legal items stand at any given moment.
Data Storage and Referencing
Once I started working with multiple teams, I thought my simple data storage program would collapse under the sheer weight of my documentation.
I sought business process improvement via a cloud-based database that sorts, organizes and stores my routine items in a way that's intuitive and accessible to all. Advanced referencing capabilities help me find a template I might want to reuse three years after its initial development.
I'm able to share documents in a secure manner, send and receive multimedia files that are too large for email and ensure I protect business-critical documents in the case of natural or man-made disaster.
If you're new to business process improvement, taking action on all six of these might seem overwhelming. I advise selecting one and crowdsourcing ideas about the best way to proceed. What's a good problem to have? Too many solutions from which to choose!
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