A laptop, phone, and notepad on a desk representing different approaches to manual workflows and their fixes.

Process inefficiencies can cost companies 30% of their annual revenue and waste 26% of an employee’s workday, meaning an efficient workflow is vital to your organization’s success. In this guide, we’ll uncover the operational inefficiencies slowing you down and provide actionable solutions you can implement to see noticeable performance improvements.

Paper-based processes

You can, and should, digitize paper-based or physical processes. Not only do paper-based processes slow your team down, but they also cause unnecessary waste and security risks. Here are common examples of paper-based processes and how to move them online:

  • Document management: If your organization collects data from various paper-based records, converting it to a digital format will enable you to aggregate information into one, organized location. For example, a healthcare organization might rely on EHR integration to digitize and consolidate patient data.
  • Correspondence and communications: Convert your non-digital communications, such as physical mail and office memos, to online messaging. Digital communication enables you to automate important messages and facilitate collaboration among team members.
  • Forms and applications: Paper forms such as applications, surveys, and sign-up sheets can transition to digital with online form builders. This also makes your organization’s forms more inclusive since they’ll be easily accessible online. 

If your organization relies on any paper-based processes, this is the first area of your workflow that should see a change. Look for the relevant platforms that can help manage and structure your organization’s specific processes. With the help of these systems, your organization can rest easy knowing its data is both accessible and secure. 

Manual data entry

Manually entering data into any system is not just time-consuming but also risks inconsistent and inaccurate data. Instead, take measures to streamline data entry and keep a hygienic database. This involves employing procedures and processes to keep your data error-free and up-to-date, such as:

  • Standardizing data entry: Set rules for data entry so that all your organization’s data follows the same format. For example, should team members include dashes when entering phone numbers? What format should you use for dates? 
  • Providing training: Along with clear standards for data formatting, educate users on how to properly and efficiently enter data. This may include tips and best practices for simplifying the process or using a digital tool to automatically import large amounts of data. 
  • Leveraging automation: Minimize repetitive data entry tasks by exploring software with automation tools. This way, data can be automatically populated into the correct fields rather than manually entered every time. 

When looking for a platform to organize your data, Arcadia’s list of data platform considerations recommends prioritizing one with modern features that will meet both your current and future needs. Review any technology or additional systems that require manual entry and determine a course of action for streamlining these tasks. 

Fragmented communication

Your team’s performance depends on fast and reliable communication. Implementing regular communication standards will eliminate the guesswork in team collaboration. This way, your team can work together to make the most of its work hours.

Invite your staff to collaborate quickly and effectively with communication processes that support your workflow. Some of these could include:

  • Information sharing protocols: Provide clear standards for communication, both internally and externally on behalf of your organization. These standards may include defining preferred channels and setting response time deadlines.
  • Streamlined transparency: Provide transparent updates about your operations frequently. Maximize the consistency of these reports by leveraging templates and automated notifications. 
  • Regular check-ins and meetings: Your team should feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions. Reduce communication barriers by encouraging feedback, questions, and suggestions. According to Double the Donation’s guide to employee engagement, this level of transparent communication will promote a positive environment for your team. 

While these procedures can enhance your team’s approach to collaboration, certain platforms provide features that simplify communication. Build a comprehensive tech toolkit that combines all your workflow needs. For example, your digital database may eliminate manual data entry and also allow you to export data so that you can provide timely reports to stakeholders. 

Reporting and analytics

Manual generation of reports and analytics from separate data sources can be time and energy-intensive. Not to mention, manual data changes can cause errors and lead to costly, uninformed decisions. Instead, follow these strategies to make reporting more efficient:

  • Narrow your reporting goals: Defining clear objectives is the key to efficiency when it comes to data analytics. This allows your team to focus on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most and understand the desired outcomes of your data reports.
  • Implement self-service analytics: Industry-specific analytics tools can generate valuable insights from your organization’s data. However, various team members need to access and analyze this information, meaning self-service tools are crucial to empowering staff independence. This way, team members can generate ad hoc reports and enable faster decision-making.
  • Utilize reporting templates: Standardized reporting templates and dashboards can streamline the reporting process while also leveraging data visualization to create more engaging reports. Develop customized templates for your organization’s various needs. 

By incorporating these changes, your organization can make data-driven decisions without pouring too much time and resources into planning. Additionally, each of your team members will have access to the data necessary to make these decisions. This will empower them to make informed decisions without needing constant guidance from leadership.

Eliminating manual workflows allows your organization to achieve faster turnaround times, improved accuracy, and better collaboration. As a result, your team will realize increased productivity and project capacity. 

To realize these benefits, your organization must take a team-centric approach to new workflows. Team feedback is the cornerstone of this approach. Be sure to explain the purpose of these adjustments and the details of the process change. Also, be open to team questions and available to support team members as they transition to new workflows.