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Updated 29 Feb 2020

A 3-step guide for creating a smooth work flow

Thinking ahead about developing processes might save your startup time and money.

Belinda Chan, Entrepreneur, 11 June 2015  Share  0 comments  Print

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Ask any early-stage startup leader what her company's work ethic is and she'll most likely say, "whatever it takes to get things done."

This hardly comes as a surprise when staffing up isn’t in the business plan for a few more months or years and the current team is juggling several job titles' worth of responsibilities.

But to only concentrate on the task at hand with little to no thought about the process is a shortsighted move that can affect a company’s efficiency, productivity and future profitability.

Below are three factors to keep in mind when initiating new projects and shaping process:

Related: Cash flow management

1. Pick one option

With hundreds of software options and websites out there, it can be easy to be tempted to try several services at once, only to scrap them when the next shiny new product hits the market.

You might think, What’s the harm when most services offer a free trial?

Yet consider all the time and energy wasted by several employees to move current files and familiarise themselves with tool after tool.

This can easily add up to hours of non-billable work not to mention lost dollars in future sales if information is not easily accessible. Sales teams rely on the history of past purchases and scrambling to find bread crumbs and pertinent information can mean losing a potential customer.

2. Standardise things

Now that you have picked one service or a suite of services that work best for your company, standardize it across the board.

Worked on a 20-page PowerPoint only to find your co-worker is exclusively working in Keynote?

Avoid headaches and  wasted time by having everyone choose and agree to one program, template and style guide.

3. Manage time properly

Map out the user flow for every task. It may seem counterproductive at first when you're rushing to get deliverables out the door.

But again, think of the future when a project will no longer be done by a one-person team.

Even though you have tools in place to make task execution more efficient, do all these services and the required actions contribute to an user-friendly ecosystem?

Ask whether each step makes sense or if you’re jumping from one program to another in order to accomplish a task.

Constantly explore the path of least resistance and have an open dialogue about this. After all, everyone has a unique way of working so what works for you may not serve someone else. The goal is overall company efficiency, not just personal task execution by one individual.

New tools and services are being introduced every day and it may make sense to change existing procedures. By following the above three best practices, you can easily create and improve processes whether it's your first day at a startup or the 10th year.

Related: Cash flow is reality

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Belinda Chan, Entrepreneur

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