How to Improve Any Workflow in 2024: 10 Common Problems Solved

Workflows are the foundation of any business. When they don’t operate efficiently, the business won’t be able to meet its goals. Time gets wasted on repetitive tasks, handoffs break down and cause delays, and the results often lack quality or consistency.

Inefficient workflows also cause problems for employees and customers, who may get frustrated by poor user experiences or lack of timely, organized follow up. IT teams are also impacted by inefficient workflows: it often falls to them to solve workflow problems, though they may lack familiarity with the workflow itself or the bandwidth to take on yet another project.

Workflow improvement: A 10-point checklist

Fortunately, there is a basic framework any team can use to improve their workflows. Below, we identify the most common workflow problems and what it takes to solve them.

ProblemWhat it looks likeHow to fix it
1Workflow is inefficient and requires too much manual work.Recurring tasks and activities have to be managed manually. 

Team members have little time for value-adding activities like customer service or problem-solving. 

Bottlenecks are frequent. 
Automate any task or activity that is frequent or repetitive. 
2There’s no standardization or structure to the workflow.Each team member or department completes the workflow in a unique way. The workflow — and its results — are inconsistent. 

Difficult to enforce security and compliance measures. 

Visibility is limited.
Apply forms, rules, and conditionals to structure workflows and eliminate variation.

Map all workflow phases to improve consistency and predictability.
3Manager has limited visibility and control of the workflow.Difficulty determining who has ownership of items in the workflow. 

Reports require too much manual work and over rely on spreadsheets and email threads.
Apply labels that assign and route items to specific users. 

Use a workflow tool that tracks each item in the workflow and gives team members multiple views of their items.  

Shared inboxes, permission management, and automated routing can ensure visibility and that incoming tickets and requests reach the right stakeholder.
4Items in the workflow are often delayed or finished after the due date.Requests and tickets often blow past SLAs or deadlines without anyone’s awareness.

Processing times take too long.
Create automatic notifications to alert managers and other users anytime an item approaches or passes a deadline. 

Use a custom view to identify all at-risk items before they become late.
5Team is overwhelmed by a high volume of requests, often from multiple channels.Teams accept new requests, tickets, or other information through a variety of formal and informal inputs. This system has become unmanageable and items sometimes fall through the cracks.Consolidate incoming requests into a single stream, whether they come from email, an app, or even an informal request. Use a shared inbox, labels, notifications, and routing rules to distribute incoming items to team members.
6Teams spend too much time switching between apps or systems.Teams need to update the same data in more than one place, or they spend too much time copying and pasting data from one app to another.

Data must be moved between multiple spreadsheets.
Use integrations to consolidate data, orchestrate workflows, and centralize information onto a single screen.
7Tools used to manage the workflow can’t keep up with pace of change.Current system requires complex and expensive customization to stay relevant. The IT team doesn’t have the resources for continual updates.Manage workflows with low-code software that makes it easy for business teams to modify existing workflows or create new ones without any coding experience. Low-code software helps conserve IT resources.
8High error rate due to manual data entry.Teams have to enter and re-enter the same data in multiple apps and systems.Use integrations to connect the workflow software with the components of the existing tech stack, so that data moves seamlessly between apps and systems.
9Teams waste time tracking down missing or incomplete information.Requests or tickets arrive via email, apps, on paper, or even through verbal requests. Items frequently lack all the information needed to get them underway.Use a standardized form with rules and conditionals to ensure that all relevant information is entered before the ticket or request can be submitted.
10Delays due to broken handoffs or failure to follow up.As items move through the workflow from one person to another, they fall off the radar. Team members are unaware items require their attention.Automate notifications via email or messaging apps (like Slack) to alert team members when an item in the workflow is waiting on them. Use labels to assign ownership.

More resources for workflow improvement

If you’re looking to improve a workflow for your team or business, here are some additional resources that can help.

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