Improving the efficiency of your online business is one of the most crucial steps you can take to ensure its continued success, but it can be difficult to know where to start.
This is a particularly pertinent problem for online businesses because they thrive on easy scalability, agility and simple workflow processes.
In fact, many customers opt for e-commerce brands over their shop-led competitors, because they are more efficient, can deliver orders faster and provide a simple buying experience.
However, workflows can quickly become slow and overly complex – even for online businesses. There are several potential reasons for this, but one of the most obvious is that as you grow, you require more staff, the processing of more orders and less time to put an efficient workflow in place.
As a result, many companies end up with flawed internal processes which threaten to impact team productivity and overall efficiency – potentially resulting in poor customer experiences and systematic mistakes.
Instead, you should aim to systematize your internal workflows – making them as simple to complete as possible.
Here are some top tips for achieving it
Examples of systematized workflows:
If you want to integrate a more systematized series of workflows, then you may wonder where you should start.
The following examples will help to give you an understanding of which workflows could be systematized easily, and whether this reflects your own internal corporate infrastructure.
- Integrate an online accounting system
One of the most arduous and time-consuming challenges for any online business is to keep your finances in order. Trying to process every purchase, send refunds, pay staff, freelancers, contractors and suppliers, as well as keep track of tax payments, can become mind-numbingly complicated.
As an online business, the last problem you need is to be delayed by a complex accounting process, so instead, you should consider automating it.
This will make it far easier to track individual payments, budget for expenses, stay compliant with tax regulations and prevent any mistakes from creeping in.
- The employee onboarding process can be simplified
Another common example of systematized workflows making your life easier as an online business owner is a standardized employee onboarding process.
There is a huge amount of admin involved with taking on a new recruit – from sending out the vacancy posts to reading resumes, interviewing candidates and eventually choosing the right person.
This time-consuming process only continues once you have chosen your new employee. They will have to be trained in certain skills, log in to company accounts, learn about your best practices, and generally ensure they slot into their new role seamlessly.
Trying to teach new employees this one by one is a massive waste of your time and resources – especially as it is being done remotely, meaning that the correspondence is likely to take longer. If a team member is having to give up their workday to train someone, then their other tasks will be neglected.
Instead, create a standardized process which automatically onboards new recruits. This could involve a PDF which explains everything they need to know about their new job or recording a series of training videos.
- Have a standard procedure for dealing with clients
Customer service is a challenge that every brand faces, and your online business is no different. As you expand your team, you will have to trust your employees to treat each client with an identical level of service, ensuring that your company maintains its reputation and that your customer base is satisfied.
It is impossible to maintain full visibility over this, so automate it instead.
You could do this by setting up automated chatbots which answer frequently asked questions or give your employees a series of standard answers and best practices which they can use when talking to customers.
Top tips for seamless integration:
Implementing these changes is not easy and can cause significant disruption if the process is not handled correctly.
Below are some tips on how to integrate your systematized workflows and ensure they are as good as they can be.
Ask your employees for their advice
One of the best ways to ensure that you have created an effective workflow is to consult your employees as you develop it.
It can be easy to think you know more about your own online business than anyone else, but the truth is that if you employ people to run different departments, then they will have a higher level of expertise in that area than you.
As a result, you could wind up making the workflow less efficient if you fail to ask for their advice. Your staff could offer you priceless insights into the current process and how it could be improved.
They can also help guide you with implementation, setting it up themselves and ensuring the new system works to a standard they are happy with.
Don’t regard a system as a gateway to complete control
You are never going to gain full control over the daily actions of your employees or influence every detail of your workflows, so don’t try.
Systematizing your workflows in a way that attempts to put control completely in your hands will only lead to a significant slowdown, a drop in productivity (no one likes to be under surveillance) and even collective paranoia.
Instead, aim to make the workflows as good as they possibly can be for your team – as it is they who will have to use these systems every day.
Aim to increase productivity
A core benefit of a systematized process is an increase in productivity. Therefore, when implementing these systems, you should aim to do it in a manner that maximizes future productiveness.
You can achieve this by giving your employees enough warning before the process switches over, offering training, or by implementing the new system little by little.
Overall, you should only implement a systematized workflow if you and your employees agree that it will improve the efficiency of your online business. If you try to meddle with a workflow that doesn’t need improving, then you could end up with a drop in productivity.