Service-based projects succeed when propelled by reliable workflows. Regardless of your chosen project management methodology, you need to establish prescribed steps to maximize efficiency.
But laying out sequences and assigning tasks is only the beginning. Having a specific process in place doesn’t guarantee it’s going to work — or that people will stick to it.
Often, managers neglect to monitor workflows over time. When your team goes through the motions of an ineffective workflow over and over without making corrections, leaks happen. If you look for the source of those leaks, you may unearth a bottleneck.
Bottleneck - a slowdown in any step of a process that can contribute to delayed projects
Bottlenecks can show up for many different reasons, and they don’t always make themselves known in the ways you might expect: via missed deadlines or delayed projects. Your team could be getting by just fine while overlooking covert kinks in one or more processes.
To prevent late client work delivery and minimize inefficiencies, look for common signs that could indicate workflow stagnation. You may have an undiscovered bottleneck if your team is regularly stressed out by everyday work, your processes are entirely driven by people and/or your tools or software platforms are outdated.
When your team is feeling overworked, there’s often a clear reason. If you can’t identify one, there could be ever-present sources of frustration in the form of flawed processes.
Bottlenecks are a project management traffic jam of sorts, causing a backup that extends well beyond one specific step in a workflow. Unable to pinpoint the origin of delays, your team can experience undue stress. As a leader, you’ll see the negative effects of hidden bottlenecks creep into other areas of the business.
➡️ Read how consulting firm Realize Strategies avoided burnout with platform consolidation.
Reliance on manual tasks can make bottlenecks more likely — and more impactful. Compared to business process automation, a manual approach is risky because it lacks standardization and leaves each step in a workflow, no matter how minor, open to error and prone to delay.
Especially when you have no digital, centralized method of tracking tasks, assignments, time and other essential elements of project management, you can’t verify whether bottlenecks exist, much less where they are in each process.
➡️ Get inspired with four examples of the best processes to automate in your professional services business.
If you use software to complete client work, it should be capable of keeping up with the caliber of services you offer. Smoothly functioning workflows aren’t possible when you rely on outdated tools that don’t talk to each other.
Project efficiency and team productivity can suffer when simple tasks require interacting with multiple platforms. Because an obsolete system is not likely to feature the most useful and integrated communication features, timelines and client relationships can be impacted.
➡️ Not sure where to start with replacing old software? Here’s our advice for choosing the right tech stack.
Your bottleneck may be caused by a person if…
Your bottleneck may be caused by a system if…
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There could be a multitude of ways to correct your workflow pileups, depending on your resources and goals. Sometimes, your team needs a bit more training. On other occasions, the key is to reduce the volume of tasks pushed toward a person or step in a given time frame.
Regardless of the exact nature of your problematic workflows, there is one solution that applies across the board: enhanced visibility. One accurate source of truth can provide you with all the information and data you need to widen bottlenecks and get your projects moving again.
A platform that connects every stage of client work and is accessible to your entire team can provide such visibility. To be most effective as a corrective tool, it will also offer:
Accelo: The Ultimate Visibility Tool
It’s tempting to keep your team churning through everyday tasks without thinking about where they fit into your larger operational picture. To understand each workflow’s impact on your business as a whole, you need a solution built for client-focused businesses just like yours.
Read how Accelo helped a structural engineering firm unearth its hidden workflow issues.
Ready to dig deep and find out if there are bottlenecks lurking in your team’s processes? Start a free trial or schedule a demo of Accelo to see how your service business could improve workflow efficiency.