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Standardization: The Key to Efficient Production Workflows

Cathy Roth
Posted by Cathy Roth on Nov 12, 2021 1:52:09 PM

In a recent webinar, Joe Woodard asked attendees, "Which of the following operational areas is your biggest challenge - the area you most need to streamline?

The options were:

  • Document Management
  • Processes/Workflows
  • Technology/Systems
  • Getting Timely Access to Client Information

Which of the four areas was the most common operational challenge identified by your peers? More than half of them selected processes and workflows as their biggest pain point. 

Standardization Is the Key to Efficient Production Workflows

We know that defined workflows would help us be more efficient. But even the idea of creating defined workflows can be daunting. As one bookkeeper recently told me, "I'm too busy doing the work to make it more efficient." I replied to her, "To quote Joe, you need to slow down to speed up."

To become more efficient, you need to slow down and standardize your processes, which is arguably the key to building out efficient workflows. What are the keys to standardization? Definitions and narrow focus. 

You Define Your Business

There are four things you need to define - the product, the process, the systems, and the services. Do NOT let your clients create these definitions for you. 

Joe uses the analogy of Starbucks to describe the importance of defining your business. Starbucks has defined what they sell (coffee, grab-n-go snacks), how they make it, and the equipment they use to make it. We would never go into a Starbucks and ask them to make a hamburger. And we would never go in and tell them what steps to use to make our cup of coffee or expect them to use a specific device to make our cup. 

So, why then do we as bookkeepers and accountants allow our clients to dictate to us what we are to do, how we are to do it, and what software we are to use? 

You should define your own business. Defining your product, process, systems, and services builds a solid foundation on which you can build efficient production workflows.

Keep a Narrow Focus on Your Products/Services

Keeping a narrow focus on the products and services you offer - which is often referred to as specialization - provides multiple benefits.

1. The more you narrow your focus, the more you are able to standardize. Increased standardization increases efficiency. 

2. If you have a team, that increased standardization allows your team to manage more processes from start to finish without help from you.

3. Most importantly, as you narrow your focus, you actually increase your net engagement. It may seem contrary, but a narrow focus allows you to deepen your knowledge, provide greater value to your clients, and charge more for your services. 

Learn More About Standardization, Efficient Workflows and the Frictionless Client Experience

Members of Woodard Alliance may view the full webinar, titled "Streamlined - The Frictionless Client Experience", in the Alliance VIP Library. Not a member of the Alliance? Not a problem! Sign up for a free 30-day trial and watch the full webinar. 

Topics: Client Experience


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