Managing and growing a web design and development business is never easy. Freelancers and team managers, alike, are often required to assume many roles to ensure the growth and success of the business. From coding to graphic design, from client relations to researcher, a web developer's job is never a single thing and those who cannot manage the amount of tasks to be done will eventually fail.
Some may think that multitasking is the answer to overcome such great amounts to activities in running a web development business. Yet, research from Stanford University has shown that multitasking is not only ineffective but can also be detrimental when it comes to time management and output quality. So, how can one be able to succeed in demanding world of web design and development, whether one is a solo entrepreneur or a team leader?
Low Cost, High Reward
Some ways to manage the great amount of tasks to be done is by outsourcing certain business processes or by hiring more employees. But these have attached limitations, incur additional costs, and can even add new processes that create a cyclical issue.
Workflow automation provides solutions in helping web design professionals manage both administrative and technical aspects of a web development business, without depleting resources or complicating business operations. By utilizing strategic planning, creative execution, and innovative automation technology, web developers can increase productivity by directing more resources like time, skills, and money to the most important tasks instead on menial, repetitive ones.
Advantages of Workflow Automation
Look and Feel Professional
One differentiating factor that many businesses often overlook is great customer service. Automated workflow can improve the support and communication of a web development business to its customers. Though many web developers can easily complete the production phase of a project, some find the documentation phase rather challenging due to the menial and repetitive nature of the tasks.
Many get overwhelmed by the process of creating proposals and contracts, collecting required information or content, invoicing, and providing timely updates, among other processes required for project completion. Having an unreliable system in handling the customer relationship management (CRM) for a project can become detrimental for a web development business because these are tasks that connect a designer or developer to a client. Failing, for example, to send project updates or notice of delay can damage your business reputation.
To eliminate these points of failure, automation can be incorporated using innovative technology to manage the documentation process of projects. Web applications like Creative Snap, for instance, offers a wide variety of features that web developers can utilize to easily define project scope and create proposals, auto-generate contracts based on project questionnaires, automatically send updates, and billing reminders to clients.
By automating these processes, clients will get reliable and timely customer service that results to positive business image, lasting professional relationships, and higher chances of referrals.
Increase Productivity and Efficiency
Spending time and effort in a certain task means giving up the ability to do a different task; this is known as cost of lost opportunity, also called as opportunity cost. Due to the variety of things that needs to be done in web design and development, professionals must be strategic in making sure that each activity being done is worth using the resources (time, skills, and money) getting devoted to it.
Many web designers and developers get overtaken by administrative tasks that project workflow becomes problematic. Emailing clients to send constant updates, asking for project information, or asking to get paid are just some of the activities that consume a lot of time and effort without automation. Not only are resources inefficiently used, the repetitive work can get very distracting and decrease productivity, which can affect other projects.
In addition to communication, certain production processes can also become overwhelming if not managed correctly. Content collection and managing proofing or revisions can become an issue if there is no simple and well-designed system to handle these processes.
Fortunately, increasing productivity and efficiency can be achieved through workflow automation so that web developers can focus on creating websites instead of writing email updates or scouring storage devices for banner images. In the case of Creative Snap's event-based auto-responders, web developers only need to click a button to send notices to clients, asking for required content. Clients can then upload files to Creative Snap's cloud storage and when done, web developers will be notified by the system regarding the availability of the requested content. No more writing awkward emails or misplacing important files.
Automated workflow helps to minimize human error in business operations and web developers can focus on doing the most important tasks and revenue-generating operations of the business.
Encourage Strategic Growth
With more resources available for the most important tasks, automation of workflow opens a web development business to strategic growth.
Being easy and affordable to implement, workflow automation services like Creative Snap can help web designers start integrating business processes that facilitate attraction of more clients and increase revenue streams. More time and money can be channeled into activities such as penetration of new markets, development of new products and services, and business diversification.
There are a lot of obstacles in growing a web development business. David Finkel, co-author of Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back, stated that one of these obstacles is the self-employment trap, "where you, the owner of the business, are so consumed by your day-to-day production for the business that they don't have the time or space to step back and focus on growing their professional practice as a business.... Typically the owner is too scared or convinced he or she can't bring in other talent to replicate the core service offering, that the owner stays stuck as the core producer for the business."
An effective automation platform is a great tool in simplifying and streamlining operations to enable web developer scale up their business. As a web development business grows and more projects come in, it is expected that the workload will also rise, requiring additional staff. But having a complex workflow system will defer new employees' utilization rate as they will need additional time to learn your business operation. Automated workflow can shorten the training and required learning curve of new employees, resulting to faster and higher return on investment.
For freelance web developers, automated workflow liberates time to learn or develop new skills that can help scale up the business. The opportunity cost of doing business is higher to web developers that have limited number of tools at their disposal. But learning a new productive skill and incorporating it into the business operations takes time and money. Automating some parts of the web design workflow can go a long way in freeing resources for skills development. This leads to new services that can be offered to clients or being able to accept a higher paying project that has specific skill requirement.
Whether you are just starting out or already managing a team, automation of project workflow benefits every web developer. With feature-rich and affordable web applications like Creative Snap, web development professionals can improve customer service, minimize distractions, reduce opportunity cost, and most importantly, push their business to the next level.