Along with setting professional goals, it’s useful for a company to create repeatable processes and standard workflows.
What are repeatable processes and why do we need them?
In order to be efficient, it is important to create repeatable processes. If you do something more than once, consider creating a standard workflow for it, with steps to follow for the best outcome. This decreases the mental charge of the task, since you already have a guide on how to carry it out.
One way to do this is by using checklists. These are handy when running security checks and updates on websites, for example, or when starting a new project.
Not only do these processes, which make up an effective workflow, help us perform repeatable tasks more efficiently, they also give other team members an easy guide to follow if they need to step in for someone on a task. Having effective processes reduces work- or project-related stress and ensures a predictable, repeatable outcome every time.
Check and update your processes periodically
To keep your processes and workflow effective, change things up from time to time. When the same person always performs the same tasks, that person has knowledge other team members may not have. They may develop shortcuts or skip steps from time to time.
To make sure someone else has all the knowledge required to perform the task, and to make sure the process is still effective, have another person use the existing checklist. As that person goes through the steps, she can call attention to any areas that are not clear or any assumptions in the process that should be spelled out more clearly. This person should ask any clarifying questions required and update the steps to improve the process and make it more effective for the team. Having someone who is unfamiliar with the process perform the recommended workflow is a great way to clarify the instructions and keep processes effective.
How can we harness the benefits of a good workflow?
These same repeatable processes and workflows allow us to divide a project into individual steps. By dividing each part of the project into smaller steps, you are also able to make a more accurate time and cost estimate for your clients. Providing accurate estimates and on-time work is important for good customer relationships.
With a task management software, such as Intervals, you can try to use the same or similar task names for similar tasks. When you see a task that is likely to come up again in the future, you are able to look at similar past tasks and turn them into repeatable processes with reliable time estimates based on the time spent on past tasks.
Write instructions or record videos for everything that comes up and store those in a team Evernote for the same reason. This creates solid documentation that is available to the entire team.
How can we keep track of and improve repeatable processes?
You could use an internal professional blog and Evernote to share information within the team. Then Evernote and Intervals support your checklists and notes about how and why you perform each workflow or process. You can improve the processes by having various team members take on different tasks, to make sure the steps are repeatable and see how they need to be updated.
When you see something that can be improved, any team member should be able to suggest a change, and the team can agree to update the process. Keep the checklists and supporting documentation up to date on a regular basis in order to keep it relevant and efficient.
What sort of tasks are repeatable?
In our line of work as web developers, these are some of the typical repeatable task checklists and processes we have set up:
- Website builds from initial project review to launch
- Website software installations
- Security checklists
- Content updates that require specific steps
- Troubleshooting steps
- How to handle a security issue
- Website launches
- Post-launch follow-up with clients
- Archiving a project
- Migrating a website from one host to another
- Preparing and sending out newsletters
Basically, anything you’ll do twice or more should have its own process to be followed.
For further reading:
For more inspiration and information on systematizing processes, check out:
- Kyle Havill’s How to Build Work Team Habits: Improve Your Customer Experience, Increase Efficiency, and Enjoy Better Business Results
- Michael E. Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It
What kinds of repeatable tasks do you do? How do you turn those processes into habits? What tools do you use to help you?