Working at a startup can be engaging and exciting, with a real sense that you can find new and better ways to do anything, unbound by traditional structures.
But to be able to do that, you need a clear idea of how to manage your workflow. In this article, we’ll run through our top three tips for improving workflow management at a creative startup, from picking the right creative workflow software to ensuring proper communication among your teams.
How Creative Startups Can Improve Workflow Management
1) Invest in a workflow management tool
Management is complicated. Even the smallest projects can grow difficult and unwieldy. This can become especially stressful if you’re relying on a mish-mash of file-sharing and messaging software to coordinate. This is why it’s absolutely crucial to invest in a good workflow management tool.
Without one, you can run into a range of problems, including:
- Uncertainty over responsibilities
- Losing key files and instructions
- Struggling to track projects across multiple programs
The right workflow management software, however, will allow you to:
- Customize workflow and distribute tasks
- Manage time and monitor billable hours centrally and efficiently
- Track progress in real-time with time management and reporting features
All of these features will allow your workers to focus on what really matters, as it lets you automate repetitive or routine business tasks. There are plenty of options on the market, so make sure to pick the one that’s right for you. Companies such as Scoro specialise in solutions for small businesses and startups.
2) Focus on data you can use
Of course, even the perfect piece of workflow management software isn’t going to be able to do everything. Some startups find it difficult to focus on what’s most relevant to them, especially with so many different features available.
This can disrupt workflow management, as employees find themselves overwhelmed with data. It is especially easy to fall into this trap when growing your business, as every bit of information can seem crucial.
The solution to this problem is simple: focus only on what matters to your business. However, this may be easier said than done. How can startups identify what’s most important to them?
Assess how you do things now
Begin by looking at your current performance. Ask yourself these questions:
- How long does it take to start a new project?
- Do team members report any communication problems?
- Do projects tend to become unwieldy, for example, with tasks doubling up?
- How often do you complete a project on schedule?
As you answer, you’ll find you’re naturally drawn towards different datasets. You can then develop solutions. If your teams are struggling to communicate, for instance, you can create custom workflows visible to each of them in your workflow management software.
Once you’ve made changes, assess again
Troubleshooting in startups is an iterative process. The best companies do it, again and again, to ensure they’re managing workflows and processes effectively and efficiently.
Once you’ve solved your initial problems, it can be all too easy to again become distracted by data and metrics that just aren’t useful to your business. If you’re staying focused, you should be:
- Bringing more projects in on time
- Staying within budget
- Using the fewest possible tools to do all this
This last point is crucial. The best way to assess your workflow management is to see how many tools you need to use to do it.
While it’s not always a bad sign, relying on too many fragmented tools can significantly increase the potential for error, as workers forget to transfer important data from one platform to another or miss a key deadline because their calendars weren’t synced.
Even if separate systems provide you with more information overall, that might not be useful if it undermines your ability to deliver.
3) Keep your teams connected
We have mentioned how important communication is already, but it bears repeating. Poor communication is a major reason for business failure, with one recent study showing that 86% of workers and executives blamed workplace failures chiefly on a lack of effective communication.
This problem could become even more serious as remote working and online collaboration continue to increase. It’s crucial that startups put infrastructure in place to communicate regularly and effectively before the monster of poor communication rears its head and takes a bite out of your bottom line.
Potential dangers of poor communication include:
- Missing deadlines
- Lack of clear responsibilities
- Cascading scheduling problems, as delays on one project impact others
As well as missing deadlines and hampering delivery on specific projects, lack of communication can also contribute to employee burnout in the longer term. Avoid this by setting up a core communications platform for business tasks. Workflow management software is your friend once again here, as it will often allow for central management of schedules and direct messaging among employees.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful. While this isn’t at all an exhaustive list, it should help you understand the basics of workflow management and keep your creative startup growing.