Standardising and optimising your workflow is normally the first step in embarking on a profitable outsourcing relationship. In this article we share the 8 steps you and your team need to take to standardise and optimise your workflow.
What to standardise?
The task of standardising every part of your practice’s ways of working is a major project. One which can easily overwhelm you and your firm. The best run firms have standardised workflows and ways of working for literally everything the firm does; from how the receptionist books meetings with clients through to preparation of Year End Accounts.
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in the day. It’s the same with standardising your practice’s ways of working. Of course, In time you will standardise all (or nearly all) your practice’s ways of working. However, to start a successful outsourcing relationship you only want to target the workflows which will involve outsourcing. These are typically Year End Accounts preparation and review, as well as your bookkeeping workflows. There is nothing stopping you once you have done these priority areas to tackle your other workflows.
Who to involve in standardising your workflows?
The best people to standardise your workflows are the people who are actually doing the processes day-in-day-out. These are the people who innately know where there are opportunities to cut out errors, automate and become more efficient in how they work. It’s really important that when it comes to standardising your workflows that you make sure these people are really involved in how things are done in the future. After all you will need them to use and enforce adoption of the new ways of working. So, it makes so much sense to empower your people to be the driving force in designing the new ways of working.
To standardise part of your practice’s ways of working do the following steps:
Step 1: Identify what you want to achieve by standardising your workflows and outsourcing? Do you want to eradicate mistakes? Process work more quickly? Increase your current capacity? Identify the KPIs for your firm that will be impacted by implementing your new system.
Step 2: Measure, using the KPIs, how you are performing right now. This gives you the ability to see how your new standardised way of working is impacting your firm’s performance.
Step 3: With the appropriate people in your firm, map step-by-step how you currently do things. Capture all the different variations which your people complete the workflow. As you review the “as-is” with the team look for opportunities to automate any manual tasks, particularly manual entry type tasks.
Step 4: Then with the right people map how you want to do things in the future. Look carefully at how the communication will flow between you, your clients and the outsourcer. Capture this new process.
Step 5: Implement any changes to your technology, e.g. automating a manual process, to be able to do the new process.
Step 6: Identify ways you can easily check that the new process is being followed correctly. This is often best achieved by checklists which need to be completed before an activity is started, or completed before an activity can be ticked off as completed.
Step 7: Identify additional KPIs to see how well staff are following the new system.
Step 8: In your weekly Team Meeting for the next 4 weeks monitor the KPIs to see how well the new process is going. If the KPIs are below where you want them to be then implement some further process improvements.
Standardising your workflows is a big job. However, to get the best out of outsourcing your compliance tasks just focus on standardising the workflows which will involve outsourcing.