Workflow is an essential part of the day-to-day operations in a business, and every company uses workflow but not every company uses it well.
Workflows come naturally to most people, but that doesn’t automatically make them good. For a workflow to work well, there needs to be effort put into it as well as proper foresight about what needs to happen next.
It is also important to understand that workflow tools are not just for managers or executives the whole company, from the mailroom to the boardroom, should be involved in designing a workflow that works well.
This is to ensure consistency and accountability for everybody, all the way down the line from the mailroom to the boardroom.
Why Workflow is important?
It helps you to save time and money: According to research conducted by the Aberdeen Group, companies that adopt a well-designed workflow can reduce operational costs by as much as 35 percent.
This is especially important for businesses that have a lot of employees working from different locations.
Having a sound workflow provides the necessary framework for effective communication among them, and it ensures that the right information reaches the right people, at the right time.
It enhances productivity: A well-organized workflow streamlines your activities and makes them more effective and productive.
When there is no room left for errors in a work process, you can eliminate unnecessary steps and boost productivity by avoiding redundant tasks.
Workflow saves time: Instead of spending time on individual tasks, employees can be devoted to more important activities.
While workflow does involve different stages in the course of completing a job or project, you can take advantage of digital solutions that help automate certain processes.
With fewer people needed for each task, this solution not only cuts down on cost but also boosts efficiency and productivity by saving time.
To help you avoid making common mistakes with your workflows, we’ve compiled a list of 25 mistakes companies often make with their workflows and how they can be fixed!
Mistake 1: Using an inefficient workflow.
Solution: Use technology to optimize your workflows! For example, when you have a lot of tasks that need completion by the end of the day but don’t want to go around in circles all day long looking for what needs to be done next, it can help if you use an app that allows you to prioritize tasks and see what needs attention next.
Mistake 2: Inconsistent task flow.
Solution: Keep your workflow consistent! Make sure every step is completed before moving on, and make the steps sequential for a smoother process of completing tasks with fewer failure points.
For example, if one step has a lot of steps to complete, make it the last step in your workflow.
Mistake 3: Adding unnecessary tasks.
Solution: Make sure every task is necessary! It’s no good having an extra step that doesn’t need to be there just for the sake of adding more steps or making your process longer. If a task is not necessary, don’t include it in your workflow!
Mistake 4: Incorrectly sequencing tasks.
Solution: Keep your workflows sequential! Remember that the sequence of your steps will help you complete tasks with fewer failure points and more efficiently it’s important to make sure each step is completed before moving on to the next step.
Mistake 5: Too much detail in your workflows.
Solution: Keep it simple! It’s easy for a workflow to become more complicated than it needs to be if there are too many steps, and that can make things difficult for everyone involved including yourself. Keep your workflows as simple as possible, because that’s how you will succeed!
Mistake 6: Allowing tasks to become stale.
Solution: Give freshness a chance! If there are tasks in your workflow that haven’t been completed for an extended period, it may be worth revisiting them.
Tasks can become stale if they’re left undone for too long, so take a look at your workflow and see what needs to be fixed!
Mistake 7: Using an outdated process.
Solution: Keep up with the times! If you find that your process has been done this way forever but is now inefficient, it’s time for an update!
If you haven’t updated your process in a while and find that it no longer works well as the business changes, try changing things around or create a new process.
Mistake 8: Not updating workflows when needed.
Solution: Keep up with trends! As any business changes, so do its workflow. Workflows need to be updated as the business progresses and becomes more efficient for them to work well. If you don’t update your workflow with changing trends, it may become stale or inefficient!
Mistake 9: Not prioritizing tasks at the beginning of a day.
Solution: Prioritize at the beginning! If you want to have a successful workflow, your tasks must be prioritized correctly.
The best way of doing this is by prioritizing them as soon as they come in or out so there isn’t any confusion about what needs to be done next.
Mistake 10: Not being mindful of your workflow.
Solution: Mindfulness is key! The best way to fix a broken workflow is by first understanding it; take an objective look at what you’ve been doing to get things done and determine where the problems lie. Once you know, try changing things up until they work well for everyone involved!
Mistake 11: Not using a workflow at all.
Solution: Say no to free-flow! If you’re one of the lucky business owners out there that has a good workflow in place, great! But if you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have a single clue, it’s time to start using one!
Creating a workflow will help you complete tasks more efficiently and effectively, so do whatever you can to get one started right away!
Mistake 12: Not using an effective process.
Solution: Pick the best tool for the job! When it comes to workflows, there are a lot of different options out there. You can choose from a variety of tools depending on what works best for your business so don’t limit yourself to just one!
Mistake 13: Overcomplicating your workflow.
Solution: Keep it simple! You don’t need to get caught up in all the bells and whistles of your workflow. Once you find something that works, stick with it – don’t spend time trying to make things perfect.
Any additions should be made slowly and cautiously, as workflow glitches can cause accidents or make everything take longer.
Mistake 14: Not looking at your workflow critically.
Solution: Get objective! Take an outside look at your workflow and see what you can do to improve it.
You’ll be able to identify where problems lie and ultimately fix things up, so take a look at your process now. If you don’t, you’ll likely run into the same issues later on down the line.
Mistake 15: Not automating your process.
Solution: Automate wherever possible! Once you’ve got the hang of it, try automating as many parts of your workflow as you can. With automation comes less hassle and more efficiency so take advantage of all that time saved!
Mistake 16: Using any old process.
Solution: Use the best process! There are tons of different workflows out there, so don’t settle for less than what you need to get things done right.
It should allow your company to save time and money while also optimizing productivity, so look into all your options before settling down with one.
Mistake 17: Not recreating your workflow as needed.
Solution: Let it evolve! Workflows don’t work unless they’re constantly changing and not necessarily for the sake of change, either. Tweak things until you find what works best for your company and once you do, stick to it!
Mistake 18: Not having a hotline to help with workflow issues.
Solution: Acknowledge the problem! If a workflow issue comes up, you need to know about it right away and quickly fix it too.
Make sure everyone who needs to know about a problem knows what happened immediately so that they can work together to resolve it as soon as possible.
Mistake 19: Having a co-dependent workflow.
Solution: Have a backup plan! The best way to avoid issues with your workflow is by having a backup in place.
This can be in the form of another person who is well-versed in the process, or simply knowing that you can take care of things even if something happens to go wrong.
Mistake 20: Not having a plan B.
Solution: Don’t get caught with your pants down! A good workflow has an impact on everything you do for business, so learn to think ahead.
If anything were to happen to your workflow, would you know what to do? Find out now by creating more than one version of the plan, then updating them as needed.
Mistake 21: Not thinking about your workflow.
Solution: Make it a priority! The time you spend on making sure your workflow gets done is nothing compared to the time you’ll spend fixing the mistakes that come if something does happen down the line. Take care of any issues now by planning out your workflow before it’s too late.
Mistake 22: Not having a clear idea of what a good process is.
Solution: Get the information you need! A good workflow starts with a solid understanding of how it should work and be handled. Not sure where to start?
There’s plenty of resources out there to help, including templates and books that can provide step-by-step instructions for best practices.
Mistake 23: Not documenting your workflow.
Solution: Document everything! You’ll want to be able to see your workflow when you go back over it, later on, so documenting the process is key.
Keeping track of what’s done, what needs to be done next and other issues that may come up will ensure your workflow gets taken care of properly.
Mistake 24: Not assigning tasks for workflows.
Solution: Know who’s doing what! The best way to keep track of the success of your workflow is by knowing who should be handling each part of it.
If you leave anything up to chance, there’s a pretty good chance that something will slip through the cracks, later on, so assign tasks to get everything done right.
Mistake 25: Having no workflow at all.
Solution: Start mapping things out! Workflows are about more than checking off boxes and crossing off you're to-do list they’re about getting things done right the first time around so that you don’t have to worry about them later on.
Don’t neglect this important part of running a business and soon you’ll wonder how you ever did without it!
Managing the Mistakes
Workflows are common in business today, but we still see the same mistakes. When these common mistakes go unaddressed, the company loses time, quality of work, and motivation.
Time is lost with poor communication and unfinished planning. Quality is sacrificed when adjustments can’t be made with new information. And motivation is drained if the workflow seems never-ending.
These mistakes take time, energy, and focus to fix. However, companies that recognize and address these issues are rewarded with more enjoyable work, an improved process, and a better end product.
Common workflow mistakes can be difficult to address, but solving these issues rewards a company over and over.
Biggest Workflow Mistakes That Needs to Fix
1. Incorrectly Using Goals
Workflow goals are used to set the overall objective of a workflow and measure how well it nurtures the enrolled objects.
Think of it like an “unenrollment” trigger. When a contact meets the set goal, they’re automatically unenrolled from the workflow.
If you’re unsure why an object was suddenly removed from a workflow, scan the History tab. Objects that have unenrolled from the workflow due to meeting the goal will be marked accordingly.
Goals are helpful when creating a workflow that nurtures contacts. If you’re using a workflow to bulk update contact properties, it’s probably not necessary.
You can report on the number of contacts that met a workflow goal by viewing the Performance tab or filtering for them in a list.
2. Conflicting Workflows
Why did this contact property update incorrectly?
This common workflow question oftentimes is the result of two or more workflows functioning against each other. This is especially common for new contacts who enroll in multiple workflows immediately after creation.
While one workflow may be setting a certain property, another may be trying to clear it, which will understandably result in some confusion.
Take regular inventory of your workflows to see which properties are being used within them. You can do this under Settings > Properties.
Select a property (e.g., Contact Owner) to see if it’s being used in any workflows. It’s best practice to limit how many workflows are setting a single property, or ensure they’re working by each other, to avoid property-setting mishaps.
3. Misunderstanding Re-enrollment
Options for re-enrollment allow objects to enroll in a workflow multiple times. To enable this feature, click on the trigger that initiates the workflow task and select Change re-enrollment options.
With these enabled, an object only has to meet one of the requirements listed to re-enter the workflow process. However, it must
If re-enrollment is enabled and you aren’t re-enrolling an object, it means that the second side of a workflow trigger hasn’t been met.
The criteria for the trigger must be met again to complete the action. For example, if your re-enrollment criteria include being a member of the list. When an object does re-enroll, all actions in the workflow will be executed for the object.
4. Forgetting Delays
Delays are the glue that holds successful workflows together. Among all the powerful workflow actions that exist in HubSpot, delays are equally important in nurturing contacts and promoting engagement.
Sometimes data isn’t instantly populated on an object record when a visitor converts and is created as a contact in your account for the first time. It can take up to a few seconds for the incoming data to populate in the associated properties.
If a workflow is set up to assign a new contact to a sales rep based on their form responses, place a delay in as the very first action.
If not, the contact may enroll in the workflow seconds before its contact properties have finished updating, and the wrong owner may be assigned as a result. Although this doesn't always happen, it's something a one-minute delay can easily take care of.
If a workflow is set up to send a series of marketing emails dependent on whether a contact opened/clicked the previous one, a delay is needed after each Send Email action to allow contacts time to interact with it.
If excluded, the workflow will go from sending the email to immediately checking if the contact opened or clicked it (they haven't, unless they have superpowers). This will result in incorrect actions executing in the workflow as time goes on.
5. Editing Active Workflows
Know what to expect when editing an active workflow so that actions and performance don’t come as a surprise.
When editing the enrollment triggers of an active workflow, currently enrolled contacts who no longer meet the enrollment criteria won’t be removed by default.
If you'd like them to be, navigate within the workflow to Settings>Unenrollment and Suppression, and select the option that removes them.
If the delay that contacts are waiting in is shortened, they will still adhere to the original, longer delay length.
However, if the delay is lengthened, contacts will experience a new delay. Please note: This only applies to contact-based workflows.
Adding or removing actions
If an action is added/removed to a workflow at a spot behind where the active contact currently is, they will not go back and complete/undo that action. If ahead of where the contact currently is, they will complete/skip the action when they arrive.
6. Undoing Changes
Undo, undo, undo. We all want to be able to reverse course on a mistake or an edit that affects workflows. Unfortunately, once a workflow is saved, you’re stuck with it. To avoid accidentally saving a workflow and rendering yourself powerless over your actions:
Don’t switch over to the “All Workflows” view in HubSpot because you think it will give you more editing power (sorry).
Don’t leave the workflow settings page before hitting Save. This will allow you to save your work, but also cancel any unsaved changes if need be.
Use an autosave shortcut if possible. HubSpot’s autosave feature is accessible by CTRL+S for PCs or CMD+S on Mac. Just be sure to switch back over to the Workflows view before you hit save!
7. Editing without a Re-Enrollment Trigger
The right re-enrollment strategy should always include at least one of the following actions:
a. Deleting a contact (or any object) from the account
b. Unsubscribing a contact (or any object) from all emails
c. Unsubscribing a contact (or any object) from all marketing campaigns
d. Removing tags/labels associated with a contact (any object). If using HubSpot, contacts can only be removed by unenrolling them from workflows.
If none of the above four is available in your workflow, make sure you add an automated delay (discussed in point number 5) to ensure that re-enrollment doesn't occur as a result of completing/disqualifying yourself from a particular action.
8. Editing without a Delay
"Edit workflow now" is fine for simple changes to your workflow, but if you're adding an action or changing the settings of an existing action, it's always best to add in a delay between actions and before checking/updating any object properties to make sure that nothing goes wrong.
Workflows are an essential part of any CRM system. They help marketers and salespeople save time, reaching out to prospects for new opportunities or re-engaging existing ones without the need for manual labor.
However, if not properly monitored and managed, they can become bloated with non-working actions that slow down performance. If you're experiencing performance issues because of workflow actions, it's time to fix them.
By being aware of these 25 common mistakes and properly monitoring your workflows, you can have a high-performing system that not only saves you time but also boosts productivity in the long run!