Improved Workflow = Improved Efficiency

When things are not going as smoothly as we want we tend to say things like “I don’t have enough time to get everything done today” or “I asked him to do this but I’m not certain he will get it done, I better ask someone else.” These are symptoms of poor coordination of action. So much of what we do depends on the coordination of work with others.

Coordination must be reliable, fast and flexible to meet the changing needs of projects. There is a powerful, yet simple, way of looking at this. Coordination of action is a conversation, which we will call ‘workflow’. It is the coordination between a ‘customer’ and a ‘performer.’

Workflow is composed of four distinct steps or phases.

In the first phase, a customer and performer are both responsible for the good request or offer. In this phase, preparation happens, all the information is collected, and conditions of satisfaction are determined. Then the request or offer is made.

In the second phase, assessments are made about resources and capacity such as people, time, and money. Other priorities are factored in. An agreement is made, as well as a plan for completion. Ultimately, a promise is committed to. This is where so much can go awry. If capacity is overestimated or the commitment is made without checking with the team, workflow breaks down.

In the third phase, the work is done. Any needed clarification happens and finally, the performer declares the work is complete. It’s important to let the customer know you are complete so they can move forward.

In the fourth phase, the customer declares that he/she is or is not satisfied. Acknowledgement or appreciation for a job well done is offered. This phase opens the opportunity for future work together or closes it down. If the customer is satisfied, then the relationship has been strengthened. Trust is enhanced by being able to count on someone to fulfill his/her promises.

There is a remarkable correlation between effective workflow and effectiveness of individual groups. In a culture where commitments are taken seriously and managed rigorously, there is trust and efficiency. This culture fosters a sense of achievement, dignity, and self-worth in its members.

To learn how to apply these four phases of workflow, contact Paulette.


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