Workflow Analysis: Improving Business with Greater Efficiency

Quantitative Data Analysis is widely used in many fields, including economics, sociology, psychology, market research, health development, and many different branches of science. Quantitative data is generally more reliable than qualitative data, and good analysis relies on good data. Quantitative data refers to numbers and statistics, and is very useful in finding patterns of behaviour or overriding themes. This is more useful than qualitative research, as the latter can be very vague, depending on the methods used to collect it. For a brief overview of data analysis techniques and forms of data, try this course:Data & Analysis.   By definition, Quantitative data is numerical. This means you can gather percentages and statistics and analyse your results using graphs and charts. Most data discovered by Quantitative methods is less prone to bias and can often be extrapolated to fit a larger sample size than the data was collected from. Think of gathering data from a single area of a town and using this data to influence decisions that affect the whole town.   Quantitative research can generate large amounts of data. Quantitative Data Analysis is applied to the raw data so that the research can be displayed in a friendlier fashion, especially to those who do not understand the area the statistics refer to. Quantitative Data Analysis usually starts with taking a sample size and minimum / maximum values, in addition to any preliminary tables that have been drawn up. From here, statisticians will often create averages and figure out the deviation from the expected result - and this helps inform whether or not hypotheses are correct. Dispersion is a very important part of data analysis, along with the aforementioned averages.   Quantitative Data Analysis is used in many fields, from Science to Finance. In fact, Finance is a great area to look into. Stock traders use data analysis every day, looking at charts that are covered in Technical Analysis, Moving Averages and Price Oscillations. For a better overview of these aspects of data analysis you can take this course: Technical Analysis in Finance   Numerical Data Analysis usually relies on a set of data that has to be a "fair representation" of the areas that it is concerned with. This means that if you are trying to create a survey on any given subject, you must strive to get the most accurate data in the first instance, as any extrapolation from data with errors will lead to larger errors down the road. The larger the sample size, the more accurate your findings will be, and the more effective your data analysis will be.   Numerical Data Analysis allows us to make sense of any data that is currently available to us. Using Quantitative Data Analysis allows us to organise and summarize and prepare the data for dissemination to others. In addition to these common uses of Quantitative Data Analysis, it is also used to find patterns in data.   If one was to poll a large cross section of students, you wouldn’t be surprised to see that over 75% of students attend the cafeteria four or five times a week, for example. Without Quantitative Data Analysis, you would have to sift through your data every time you wanted to make a statement. Quantitative Data Analysis will find differences as well as similarities and most other patterns in any data you analyse. This allows you to extrapolate and ask questions about the data to see new patterns you wouldn’t see without analyzing the data. Using our cafeteria example, perhaps your data shows that during exam times, the cafeteria attendance goes up!   Quantitative methods are ideal for finding out when and where, who and what and any relationships and patterns between them. They also allow broad study with large sample sizes, which makes for greater accuracy when extrapolating, and can help to improve accuracy of the general result. If you have the choice of surveying 5,000 people or 50,000 people, it’s not much more work to get the extra surveys done by outsourcing the research. The greater the survey pool of participants, the more general and representative the results will turn out to be. Quantitative Data Analysis allows you to analyse your data in a highly objective manner, as quantitative research takes into account very few variables and huge amounts of data.   Assuming your data collection methods are acceptable and standards are met, using Quantitative Data Analysis can allow your research to be replicated and analysed to arrive at the same results. The Scientific Method espouses repeatable results, and this can improve the validity of your claims from your evidence. Quantitative Data Analysis can be quite math-heavy, so taking a course in using a computer program for statistical analysis like Microsoft Excel to do the heavy lifting for you is highly advisable.   Quantitative Data Analysis offers another benefit that generally isn’t found with other methods of experimentation. It helps your results be more accurate, as it is very difficult to add personal bias to numbers obtained when the correct data gathering procedures have been followed. Avoiding personal bias and confirmation bias in the case of analysis means that your data will be much more accurate, as bias happens even when you try to make sure that no bias affects the results. By using purely mathematical analysis on your data, your personal opinion doesn’t matter; and the data remains truthful, as it cannot share your opinion!   Data Analysis allows you to keep aloof from the experiments by hiring unknowns to gather the data for you. This is helpful for so many fields - not just the sciences. Some of the most useful Quantitative Data Analysis techniques are applied for business profit projections and many other things. Data analysis is a highly important skill, and there isn’t a job out there that wouldn’t benefit from the employee knowing at least rudimentary   Quantitative Data Analysis. You can teach yourself easily and quickly with this course on business analysis.Workflow analysis refers to the process by which you can take a close look at your company and determine where its strengths and weaknesses lie. It is important to conduct this type of analysis on a regular basis because it can ensure that you will be able to pick up on inconsistencies and inefficiencies throughout the organization right away and make the appropriate changes as soon as possible. This will help you get your business back on track towards success, both in terms of its reputation and popularity as well as in its finances. Neglecting to conduct a workflow analysis, on the other hand, can result in problems that become chronic and are difficult to resolve, potentially causing your organization to fall behind the competition and become obsolete or lose too much money to turn itself around.

Any company and any businessperson can benefit from a workflow that ensures the highest level of efficiency so that the least amount of time and the fewest resources are used to accomplish a task. This, in turn, enhances productivity, resulting in more products and services getting out the door to consumers to keep them coming back. Whether you are an artist, an entrepreneur, or a manager, learning how to analyze the various processes within a business, from marketing to production and customer service, will definitely help you improve performance throughout all departments within the company.

What is a Workflow?

If you do not understand what a workflow is, you certainly cannot begin to conduct a workflow analysis or comprehend how important this type of analysis is.

Put simply, a workflow is the process that a company uses to get things done. Different departments within an organization will have different workflows. For example, the accounting department will have its own processes by which it keeps track of bills that need to be paid, invoices that need to be sent, and payments that have been received. The manufacturing department, on the other hand, will be concerned with acquiring raw materials and transforming them into final products that can be sold for profit. Therefore, a workflow analysis can be used to determine inefficiencies within a specific department of a company or across the entire business. When these analyses are put up against a company’s business plan and its goals, it becomes easier to see what needs to be done to accomplish those goals.

Workflow Analysis to Evolve Your Business

In order to succeed long into the future, a business needs to be flexible and it needs to evolve by keeping up with the changes occurring outside of itself in its respective industry and any industry it wants to enter as well. When you analyze the processes within an organization, you may realize that they have become obsolete. Perhaps these processes were fine at the beginning, when the company first started out, but now there are better processes that can be implemented.

Learning how to become a business analyst is a great option for those who wish to work as consultants and for those who already own their own companies but want to be able to continually improve performance. If you are analyzing your own company or working for someone else’s business, you can determine how to automate many business processes with today’s technology, thereby saving time, money, and resources, as well as manpower that could be used elsewhere within the organization. Or you can use your analysis results to determine what manual processes can be improved, and how they can be improved, in order to increase efficiency.

The Many Steps in a Workflow Analysis

Every workflow analysis will involve the same basic steps, which are listed below. However, keep in mind that different business analysts may choose to utilize different tools and methods to get the job done. To learn more about what a business analyst does to help businesses, read this blog post.

It is important to note that hiring outside business analysts is usually the best idea because they will have no loyalty towards any particular processes within the company and will, therefore, be able to take a truly objective look at how the organization operates.

1. Interviewing and Getting to Know Upper Level Management

The business analyst will usually begin the process by interviewing the upper level managers within an organization to see how they feel about the company and what they have already determined works and what needs improvement. Then they ask these managers what their ultimate goal or vision is for the company and what they hope to gain from having the company analyzed in the first place. This gives the analyst a good starting point to work from.

2. Interviewing Managers and Employees Within All Departments

Next, the analyst will interview managers across other levels of the organization, as well as the employees that they lead. This gives them an even clearer look at how business is run day to day. Everything from human resources and manufacturing to finance and marketing is looked at closely, right down to how every important file is processed.

This analysis takes time because it really looks at each individual employee’s role within the organization, as well as the tasks that are accomplished and the actual steps involved with accomplishing each and every task.

3. Documenting Time, Resources, and Effort Spent on Everyday Tasks

By documenting how much time and effort is spent on each task, as well as how much it costs a business to accomplish these tasks, the business analyst will be able to see what truly works and what processes are actually doing more harm than good or have become obsolete and could be improved.

4. Making Recommendations for Improving the Business

After spending the necessary time getting to really know a company and its many employees, from the lowest level to the highest level within an organization, a business analyst will finally be able to put together a comprehensive plan that will recommend the best steps the company’s owner(s) should take to improve efficiency and productivity. However, the analyst will begin by putting together a list of ideas to show lower level managers first. After all, these are the individuals actually performing the everyday tasks that keep the company moving forward, so they should know about any ideas the analyst has and be open about whether they feel something is a good idea or completely impossible. The feedback received from these employees is critical because the analyst can use it to improve the suggestions being made so that they are realistic and doable.

The ultimate goal of a business analyst is to find ways to streamline and/or automate the various processes within a company. But after working with lower level management, it is time to show the recommendations to upper level managers, who will ultimately determine if they will follow through with the course of action suggested by the analyst.

A workflow analysis can be a valuable asset to any company of any size. It will help you hone in on any problems within your organization so that you can improve the way your company operates and begin to generate even more profits or get yourself out of debt if you are struggling to keep the company alive. An education in business impact analysis, in particular, is a must-have tool that will help you target processes in your business that are no longer serving the organization on a whole and should, therefore, be removed or altered. It can also help you find your strengths so that you can focus upon those areas of your company and enhance them further to continue improving.