Consistency Comes from Having a Process

Late in the ’90s, after an intense SAP implementation with my employer at the time in Toronto, I spent the better part of a year working with all of the different business groups to document and improve on their process workflows. This meant travelling to spend several days with many people I was meeting for the first time, as an “outsider”. Thinking back, I’m surprised I never felt unwelcome. I suspect I was oblivious because I just loved the work I was doing.

There’s nothing like mapping out a process workflow on 10 sheets of flipchart paper to get the creative juices flowing. The discussion and the visuals led to a few heated debates but mostly to improvements in the way work was done. Some were quite significant.

Years later, even though I mostly work alone, I still use documented processes to guide some of my interactions with others. Following a documented process (and sharing it with someone) provides immediate advantages:

  • clear expectations (or a discussion about what isn’t clear or changes needed)
  • results will be consistent and timely
  • less time spent communicating about routine tasks and no figuring out “what’s next?”
  • a “no-brainer” way to accomplish repeated tasks
  • few errors or forgotten to-dos (quality assurance)
  • opportunities for improvement often become obvious (may include integrations and automation)

Here is an example that has evolved a lot over the years – my internal process for producing client newsletters:

newsletter issue workflow

That is a template that gets reused many times every month and I’ve rarely had a slip-up. With over 3000 newsletters sent, I can’t claim perfection but I can claim a 99.9% accuracy rate. I customize the workflow to each client’s needs – not everyone has all these steps. (I use 17hats to keep me on-track and automate some of the tasks. At a glance, I can see the status of each newsletter in production and the next tasks. Not all of my workflows are in 17hats but this was a good example to share.)

Now, what process workflows are you going to develop this year? They will definitely improve your work with clients, collaborators and coworkers in a whole bunch of positive ways.

PS: If you’re curious about how workflows, integrations and automation can help your productivity, let’s chat about the possibilities. Book a call here.