With clients and jobs to juggle on a daily basis, pest managers can look to workflow management solutions to help run their businesses more efficiently.
Business survival in today’s pest industry requires the optimisation of workflow. Technicians must be efficient to ensure time is not wasted because this is where income is generated and reputations made. Support office staff must be efficient to ensure nothing is missed and overheads are kept to a minimum.
When you are first looking at workflow management systems, one of the most difficult questions to answer is, “Which tool should I use?”
If you’re right at the start of this journey, we suggest you pause first. A better question for you right now is, “What do we need the tool to do?” This means, unpacking your workflow.
By understanding your workflow in detail, not only will it show you the extent of what is required, it could also uncover some quick and easy efficiency wins and make the transition to a workflow management solution easier. Here are the key questions that will unpack your workflow:
- What starts the process? It might be a decision, an action, a phone call, or something else
- What happens? If you’re asking someone else, phrase it as, “Tell me what happens?” This will encourage people to tell you the story. Sometimes there are details in the story that you won’t get if you just ask what steps are taken
- Who is responsible? This will show you the people involved in the process
- Who is accountable? This question will start to show you the kinds of permissions or sign-offs that are needed
- Who should be informed? This will show you what kinds of notifications you need
- How long does it take right now? This is a great benchmark for you because you can measure the change in time taken when your workflow system is in place
- What happens next? Each workflow has a starting and ending point. Often, the end of one thing is the start of another. Asking ‘what next’ is a fast way to uncover the entire workflow.
If you’re a one-man band you should have a good understanding of your workflow, although you should still write it down. If you have a small team, it’s a good idea for everyone to pitch in to make sure you capture all your activities and ensure team involvement.
You can simplify the process of getting the details of your workflow by asking each person to write down every step of what they do over, say, a week or two. Once the information has been captured, it needs to be reviewed and pulled together to create a complete workflow.
Now that you can see what happens to get the work done, look for the waste in it. What is double-handled? Where do you wait for things to happen? How many times do people touch each element?
Eliminate any actions that are unnecessary. You’ve just gained yourself an instant efficiency bonus! And that’s before you’ve even started looking at which tools are a great fit for you.
It’s important to note that the best workflow captures every tiny step, even your emails. Small details sometimes seem unimportant. But the small things can sometimes take up a lot of time.
If your workflow system can help you save just ten minutes per day, over the course of a year that is over 40 hours – one full week! Imagine what you can achieve when you recover an entire week that you can achieve more meaningful things.
Savings can be made by utilising ‘action based notifications’, which automate elements of the booking process and management of job information. Not only does it save time, it ensures the customer receives faster, better service and the team have access to the latest job information.
Your detailed workflow maps will show you what you do, and what you need to support it. Now you’re in a great position to ask, “Which tool is best for me?”
Michael Stornelli, Principal of myFLO