Ways to optimize your team’s workflow
Workflow is the way in which processes are organized and carried out. It serves to outline the activities carried out in a company by arranging them in a repeatable and sequential pattern.
The purpose of the flow is the logical sequencing of the work, seeking the best interactivity between each step, facilitating the solution of problems, to combat the lack of clarity in the description of activities. To perform this function, the workflow shows a sequence of steps that must be completed.
To assemble a workflow, divide it into two steps. One of these steps is called upstream, in which the demands to be developed by the team (idea/need) are received. There is also the downstream, a stage in which it has already been defined that the item must be made and the columns necessary to carry out the item have been developed. This stage received this name because it is in this stage that deliveries in production occur.
To optimize the workflow, it is possible to “break” tasks into complementary parts, eliminating waste and doing the minimum necessary. This is done by rearranging activities and focusing on making activities more clearly and objectively.
There are types of frameworks that can be adopted to increase the efficacy and efficiency of a team within the company.
In the first step of the flow, you come with an idea/need and you need more agilists to serve the customer. From this need, understanding arises, that is, when a raw idea is selected and its understanding is achieved. You will then need three Plenums, which may or may not be part of the company.
If the company has a Plenum, it will need to look for two other Plenums externally to complete it. A vacancy will then be opened for the occupation – which is also the last stage. After that, it will go downstream. Therefore, the upstream starts from the need until the moment to get “hands on”.
The flow moves to the downstream stage after opening a spot. Thus, it will start with the search for candidates, carrying out the first interviews. If the candidate is approved in this first stage, there will be the second interview, the hiring and his start in the company. But if he is not approved, it returns to the resumé search stage.
In a simplified way, the downstream presents itself as a workflow and can receive new steps during the process. In this way, there may be a need for a second opinion before making a decision, for example. In short, the downstream ranges from the hands-on process to completion.
How to choose the most agile workflow for your team?
Companies are increasingly looking to maintain an agile workflow in their team, as this facilitates the analysis of results and encourages quick and flexible responses to problems. With agility, there is an improvement in the ability to respond to changes and unforeseen events.
On the other hand, it is worth noting that there is no correct or better flow, but the one that is best for the team, which makes it comfortable to produce and deliver the best results. So, one option is to start with the needs of the team.
Now that you have a good understanding of what workflow is, you may be curious to know how to build an agile workflow. To put this into practice on your team, it is necessary to consider some aspects that we have listed below:
Each type of agile workflow has particularities capable of meeting different needs. For this reason, it is essential that managers explain the objectives before starting activities, as this will make it easier to choose the ideal workflow that meets the company’s needs.
As mentioned in the previous item, workflows meet different needs. However, they also fit according to the needs of each team. For example, there are flows that are better suited to small teams and others to larger teams.
3. Current status of the project
Another fundamental point is to be aware of the current situation of what is under development. This will make the measurement of results more efficient.
As a result, it is necessary to align the availability of professionals, the deadline for each stage and the expected problems. During execution, new challenges will arise, and for that, the agile workflow encourages flexibility.
It is always important, since every flow is built according to the needs of the team, to keep in mind one maxim: start with what you have. If your team has 2 stages of testing and only 1 of development, OK. If it has 4 stages of development, passing through external suppliers and does not have an internal test phase, ok. Always map the reality and after that, change what makes sense, again, according to the needs of the team.
Ways to identify optimization in your team’s workflow
To optimize and make your team’s workflow more agile, it is essential to identify bottlenecks in processes and know how to deal with them. However, there is no magic formula to optimize, so it is also important to evaluate the scenario in which the team operates in order to find the best solution.
So, check out what to do now!
Study the input and output of tasks
Initially, analyze the input and output of your company’s production process as a whole. Are you managing to produce the amount of items that should be produced? And do you know how much they can produce?
If you answer no to the above question, it is possible to conclude that:
- There may be bottlenecks in some part of the workflow that need to be resolved. To identify them, start by cataloging the deliveries and outputs of the parts of production that generate the most value for the business. Also analyze the time an item spends in each step of Up and Downstream.
- Study the team’s data and see how many items they can deliver in time periods (weekly, fortnightly and monthly). Study the reasons for rework, locks and dependencies. With that, you will know the flow of the team. Next, do an in-depth study to maximize the cataloging. With this in mind, to start, focus on the most valuable products and, little by little, think of strategies so that most of the items are covered.
Map the steps
Now that you have discovered the flow of your team and the bottlenecks in your production, you need to find out what stage they are in. For this, make a mapping of each stage of production. After that, analyze the performance of each of them, identifying where the bottleneck is and thinking about possible solutions for improvement.
A tip for creating the mapping is to use flowcharts. With them, it will be possible to easily show collaborators all the steps and where the errors are.
Look for the causes of problems
Solving bottlenecks is really not an easy task. To help you in this process, list the most critical bottlenecks. It is also essential to involve the teams at each stage so that they point out problems that they observe and are not present in the mapping. There are 3 basic types of problem-cause: physical, human or organizational causes.
- Physical Causes – When failure occurs through tangible material items.
- Human Causes – When failure occurs due to a situation where someone did something wrong or did not do something that was necessary.
- Organizational Causes – When failure occurs through a system, process or policy used for decision making that is not working as it should.
Some tools that can be used to help with this:
Cause-Effect Diagram: The function of this tool is to detect the causes of present difficulties using the 6Ms (workforce, machinery, raw material, measurement, environment and method used). For example, if a bottleneck is identified as the high time for production, the cause could be the workmanship (unmotivated or unqualified employees) or even defects in the machinery.
Pareto Diagram: The main objective of this tool is to identify and select items that are responsible for having a great effect on improving processes, according to the 80/20 rule, which says: 80% of the results are caused by 20% of the factors .
For the identification of problems, we can say that in this rule 80% of the problems can be solved by treating 20% of the causes. Knowing these causes, teams are able to seek solutions that are more effective.
Ishikawa Diagram: It allows you to group and visualize various causes that are considered to be the origin of the problem or opportunities for improvement, not to mention that it shows their effects on the problem or result.
Investigation Method 5 Whys: It is one of the simplest tools to use and perhaps one of the most efficient, in which it starts from the principle of delving into an issue, with the objective of extracting the root cause of the problem in a deeper way. Its execution is performed by questioning the reason why a problem occurs, consecutively, five times. Taiichi Ohno, creator of the tool, believed that after these questions he would already be able to reach the real root cause of the problem.
Monitor and review processes
Process review is essential for every company that wants to ensure efficient operation. Some organizations review their planning every 6 months, while others review it every 1 or 2 years. Therefore, we can say that there is no ideal time, each business must identify the best frequency.
In the case of bottlenecks, it is useful to keep a frequent monitoring of problems that occur in production. This will make it easier to create a complete action plan to enable a quick response when the problem occurs.
The benefits of workflow optimization
Workflows can help streamline and automate recurring processes and tasks not only within an organization, but also in other areas of everyday life, for example, in personal life and at school. They make the individual become someone disciplined, focused and committed, understanding what is a priority and setting times for the completion of certain tasks. It is extremely important for anyone to use time wisely and to know how to prioritize, as time is too valuable to be wasted.
Within a business, agile workflows minimize the space for errors and increase the efficiency of activities carried out in the company. In this way, it improves the results obtained, the communication between the employees and the identification of production bottlenecks.
In addition, it is worth mentioning that the main benefit within the company is the organization and the process – leaving explicitly what each step does. Thus, it is possible to visualize the steps, their problems and benefits. It can still help scale and business growth.
By the end of the reading, you were able to understand what workflow is and how they can help you in your business and personal life. Discover our agile transformation offering and trust our Agile Team to boost your business growth!