If you work as a freelancer or as part of a small team, improving productivity can mean the difference between earning a good living, taking on additional clients or not. But if you can establish a good workflow for the type of work you perform you will be able to take on more clients, work smarter, faster and make more money.
For a Better Workflow Develop Package Rates
It never ceases to amaze me the number of people that sell themselves based on a certain number of hours, for example I’ll build you a website and it should take me thirty six hours and my hourly rate is $100. The client accepts the hourly rate and the contractor then monitors the time taken on the project and bills accordingly. Instead of doing this, look at offering packages based on your experience, then you can avoid the tedious task of having to track your time. Time tracking for multiple clients, with lots of interruptions can be a massive headache that you don’t want, if you can avoid it.
Value Based Selling
I know this article is about developing a good workflow however one of the biggest advantages of moving from a time based billing system to a package one, is that you are beginning to sell based on value and not time. This means that as you become more experienced, the value you offer your clients can far exceed that offered by your competitors and you can charge accordingly, something you would find hard to do on an hourly billing cycle.
Create Checklists for Each Project
When you do the same types of project over and over again, creating a checklist to help guide you and more importantly others who work with you through each project will help keep you keep on task and keep your standards high. Remember, pilots use checklists every single time they fly, to avoid forgetting something, you should too, as it’s the smart thing to do.
Before crafting your workflow, focus on your deliverables firs,t and then work your way backwards to today to figure out what needs to be done first. Then start with first things first, using your checklist to ensure you don’t forget something adding what you need to do to the calendar.
Draw Your Workflow
Seeing a workflow visually can help you identify areas that you left out or forgot. You can actually use the checklist for a generic project to create a workflow. For instance the workflow for publishing an eBook might look like this:
Research the niche > Develop a topic > Craft a title > Outline the book > Write the front matter > Write the end matter > Design a book cover > And so forth.
When you draw it instead of write it, you can more easily see the things that can be done simultaneously and what has to be done in order.
Use a Project Management System
Using a project management system like Basecamp.com, or Teamwork.com is a good way to get yourself and your clients organized from day one, I personally use asana.com a lot as it is really good at allowing me to create workflows and checklists. Each system already has some ways to organize the work so that you don’t have to actually create everything from scratch.
Use Other People’s Workflows
You don’t have to start from scratch, do a quick Google search for “workflows” and then fill in the topic such as self-publishing, writing an eBook or writing and publishing, and you can find workflows that are already written. While you cannot sell those, you can use them and modify the ideas for your own use privately.
Try Out Your Workflow
Before considering a workflow set in stone, try it out from step one with a real project of your own to ensure that you didn’t leave something out. This is your chance to improve it before asking someone else to try it.
Ask Others to Try Out Your Workflows
Send the workflow to someone else that you know who also works on the same type of projects that you do, whether it’s someone on your team or a colleague, asking them for feedback, advice and tips on improving your workflow.
Refine and Improve
Nothing is ever perfect and this means your workflow is actually never set in stone. As technology improves, and clients’ needs change, your workflows will evolve. That’s what’s great about drawing them out and creating them in the first place. Your workflows, over time, can only get better.
Workflow design is essential to your success as a contractor who takes on the projects of multiple clients. Ensure that you develop your workflows based on the services that you offer so that your project management practically runs itself over time and so that you always know where you are and what you are supposed to be doing.