Improving productivity is a necessity for a contractor who services multiple clients. Without a system in place that establishes good workflow, it can be really difficult to keep up momentum and take on enough clients to earn a good living. 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 faster, smarter, and make more money.
* Develop Package Rates One of the best things you can do for your business is to try to develop, as much as possible, package rates for your work. Then, you will avoid, most of the time, having to track your time. Time tracking for multiple clients can be a big interruption that you don't want to have to do if you can avoid it.
* 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 others who work with you through each project will help keep you on task and avoid forgetting aspects of the project. Remember, pilots use checklists every single time to avoid forgetting something. You should too.
* Deliverables First Before crafting your workflow, focus on your deliverables first 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, Asana.com, or Teamwork.com is a good way to get yourself and your clients organized from day one. The 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 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 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.
* Refine and Improve A 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.