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Identify and eliminate bottlenecks in your workflow

Last Updated 2022/04/12

Often in your business workflow, you’ll notice that one stage or process causes holdups that slow down the entire chain. This phenomenon is known as a "bottleneck". Long queues form, staff are missing task deadlines, and customers are unhappy.

Bottlenecks vary in severity, from temporary holdups caused by employee absence to more serious structural issues that need in-depth analysis to correct. Some bottlenecks may not even seem to be a "problem" as such, but removing them could help you to realise your full productive potential.

Common business process bottlenecks

  • Managers are taking too long to approve or sign off work, with staff waiting for the go-ahead to start a project, or release a product to the public.
  • Staff are lacking the necessary training to complete tasks on-time and efficiently.
  • Customer service department is unable to deal with a high number of orders or enquiries.
  • Dated or unsuitable software or technology that is not fit for purpose
  • Lack of communication between departments or individual employees.
  • Payments from clients or to suppliers not sent or received on time.

Problems arising from bottlenecks

  • Low employee morale, some staff are overwhelmed by unmanageable workloads, while others have little to do because they are waiting around for work.
  • Poor business reputation, from unsatisfied customers complaining about falling standards of service.
  • Lower productivity caused by delays and missed deadlines.
  • Inability to grow as a business, due to having to deal with constant day-to-day issues, rather than plan and adapt for expansion.

Identifying the causes

Having a clear, structured overview of your entire workflow, with every business process clearly defined is the first step in identifying bottlenecks. You should know what your processes are, who carries them out, how long they should take and how they all relate to each other. Make a flowchart to visualise what you need to evaluate.

Talk to staff to see who is affected the most by process delays, and what they think would help. Concentrate on employees with too much or too little work. Think about customer service enquiries and complaints. What are customers consistently mentioning in their communication?

Look at productivity statistics. How long is it taking to provide a particular service? Which departments are meeting deadlines and targets, and which are falling behind?

Take action

There are a wide range of possible solutions to a bottleneck, depending on the issue. Hiring more employees, retraining staff, finding new suppliers and taking on new technology are a few of the actions you may need to take to fix one particular workflow stage.

But if there is a fundamental problem with your workflow overall, and the way processes relate to each other, then you will need to adopt new organisational methods.

How SwiftCase helps

SwiftCase is a cloud-based, business process management platform that lets you configure specific workflows to increase productivity and keep your organisation running smoothly.

By breaking down your processes into distinct stages, and automating time-consuming tasks, you can clear bottlenecks and prevent them occurring in the future.

If you’re interested in a free, no-obligation demonstration, get in touch today.

Adam Sykes