All posts by Oliver Peterson


How to Automate Approvals: 20+ Free Approval Process Templates

approval process

Approvals are everywhere. If you’ve worked on any project involving any kind of deliverables, chances are you’re all-too-familiar with the process of requesting and approving (or rejecting) work.

Documents, prototypes, reports, mock-ups, wireframes, storyboards, and even more internally-facing elements like simple holiday leave requests. All of these represent different kinds of approval process, and approvals are an integral workflow element.

Approvals can also represent a major bottleneck.

Consider how you are currently approving work in your business. Perhaps you have a vague process involving emails, and if you’re particularly attentive you might be tracking it in a spreadsheet.

These methods are slow and prone to delays. You have no way of tracking anything reliably, you are more likely to miss approval windows, and information has to be sent manually between individuals.

What’s more, it’s quite difficult to improve this process without the proper system in place. You need to make sure you’ve got the right tools to optimize your approval process.

Process Street‘s approvals feature is the solution to this problem.

We created the approvals feature to make the process of approving work as fast and easy as possible.

With approvals, you can:

  • Get notified as soon as work is ready for approval
  • Approve (or reject) work with zero friction using a clear, streamlined interface
  • Approve on-the-go, from your phone’s email inbox
  • Synergize with many other Process Street features to optimize process efficiency
  • Save time and stay on top of your workflow

In this post, I have a trove of templates to showcase the approvals feature. All of the templates in this article are custom-built to make your life easier.

They also take advantage of Process Street‘s other powerful features like rich form fields, conditional logic, dynamic due dates, and role assignments.

So, read on for:

Read on to learn how to hit the ground running with the approvals feature.
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8D Chess: How to Use The 8 Disciplines for Problem Solving

8d

Hospitals have developed something of a reputation for being rife with bad processes. When processes aren’t adequate, the result is an abundance of “workarounds”.

For example, when equipment or supplies are missing, a nurse might waste time running around searching for what is needed, and once the item is found, return to their previous duties.

One study indicates that nurses spend 33 minutes of a 7.5-hour shift completing workarounds that are not part of their job description.

This may well “put out the fire” so-to-speak, but really it is just a hastily applied band-aid that does nothing to treat the root cause of the problem.

More time is wasted and more problems will arise in the future because nothing has been done to prevent the initial problem from happening again.

Individual nurses are not at fault here; workplace culture often values expertise in the form of those who “get the job done”, which tends to pull against the notion of spending time building good processes (time in which the job is perhaps not “getting done”).

So how to approach the problem of problem solving?

In a lean context, problem solving can be distilled into two simple questions:

  • What is the problem and how did it happen?
  • How can we make sure that it doesn’t happen again?

The 8D, or eight disciplines methodology, is a problem solving process – most likely one of the most widely used problem solving processes out there. It is used by many different countries, in many different industries, and many different organizations.

8D is designed to help you put out those fires, and make sure they don’t happen again.

In this article, I’ll introduce you to the 8D problem solving methodology and provide you with an outline of the basic process that you can hopefully apply in your own business, plus how you can enhance 8D with other tools and methodologies like Six Sigma, FMEA, and Process Street.

Here’s what I hope you’ll take away after reading:

Let’s begin with the origins of 8D – what is it, and where did it come from? Continue Reading

How to Be Productive: Use a Powerful Productivity System

how to be productive how to use a productivity system

This is a guest post from Corey Fradin, Founder of QuickBooost. Exploring topics like productivity, time management, and goal setting, QuickBooost helps you better utilize and take control of your time.

The pursuit of productivity is often simplified to a hero’s fable involving the conquest of willpower; the reality might be more about the systems we build around our work, and the clever things we do to make work easier.

You only have 24 hours in a day. You can reduce the problem of productivity to: How many tasks can I get done in that 24 hour period?

What you choose to do with your time – which tasks you prioritize, which you choose to delegate, which you choose to automate, all of these factors are directly the result of the productivity system you build around your work.

You already have a productivity system, you just might not realize. Even if you don’t feel productive, you can still look at what you’re currently doing and understand it in terms of some kind of system.

What that means is, you can break the situation into parts, like your goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics; how all of these things work together amounts to your productivity system.

Take for example David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. The GTD method is basically the idea of achieving mental focus by writing down your main tasks, and figuring out how you can break them down into smaller, more immediately actionable tasks.

This is a type of productivity system.

So, in this article, we’ll be looking at:

In essence a productivity system is a lot like a straightforward process that helps you break down your workload into smaller, more manageable chunks, and ultimately do more work, more efficiently.

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Secrets of the Cabal: Half-Life’s Organizational Management & Other Agile Tales

organizational management at valve corporation cabal process

From humble beginnings as a simple clone of the then-popular first-person shooter Quake, Half-Life would eventually become the first installment of one of the most successful video game series of all time.

Today, Valve Inc. is one of the most renowned, innovative, and successful game development companies worldwide, boasting one of the largest video game digital distribution service platforms on the planet, a range of pioneering virtual reality hardware and an impressive roster of instantly recognizable and widely-loved game titles.

Specifically, the development of the original Half-Life makes for an interesting case-study, and represents a model of innovative agile organizational management.

Half-Life is remembered as one of the best games of all time, and the intense environment in which it was created – where the Cabal process was born – is testament to that legacy.

Companies like Valve, Zappos, Semco, and even Google have come up with different models to enable the potential of their workers. These methods give power to the employees to pursue their own entrepreneurial pet projects.

Tesla’s innovation is equal part production process as it is the product; you need only look to the hulking Gigafactories to find evidence of this.

Similarly, Facebook’s success is not just in the service it offers users, but also how it was designed to scale to billions of users.

The process of organizational management is always an important factor in the outcome of these hugely successful products.

In this post I’ll be looking at democratic methods of organizational management, with a particular focus on Valve’s Cabal process. I’ll also mention a couple of other interesting examples of holocratic organizational management, and talk about our own internal structure at Process Street.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each section, if you want to jump ahead:

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What is ISO 9000? The Beginner’s Guide to Quality Management System Standards (Free ISO 9001 QMS Template)

What is ISO 9000? The Beginner's Guide to Quality Management System Standards (Free ISO 9001 QMS Template)

In 2018, Apple rolled out their brand new iPad Pro; top-of-the-line, cutting-edge, very slightly bent- wait, slightly bent?

Customers on social media and several on the MacRumors forums have discovered their iPad Pros exhibited this slight bend straight out of the box.

Of course, Apple’s response was that this was completely normal, and absolutely not a defect.

Despite the publicity Apple gives its “ultra precise” quality manufacturing process, more and more issues like these are appearing. The bendy iPad Pro is looking less like an exception, and more like an increasingly problematic trend.

Here’s a comprehensive quality breakdown (quite literally) of the iPad Pro in question:

It’s interesting to note that while Apple is bragging about premium materials such as the sapphire camera lens cover, tests like the scratch durability test done in the video above pose glaring questions to Apple’s quality standards.

Other quality management blunders from Apple’s recent track record include:

  • iPhone X: Major factory defect on phone screen making it unresponsive to touch;
  • iPhone XS/XS Max: A repeat of antennagate, except this one might be un-fixable with software;
  • Apple Watch: Batteries will swell and crack or detach the screen.
  • iPad Pro 2017: An older iPad model sold until November 2018 reportedly develops strange screen glitches;
  • MacBook Pro: Users have reported and Apple has admitted to serious defects (resulting in data loss and failure) with the solid-state drives inside 13-inch models, as well as severe performance issues with i9 CPUs and sound distortion at low volume;
  • Macbook/Macbook Pro: Defective keyboards in models from 2015 to 2017.
  • That’s a lot of issues for a company that continues to charge top dollar, push prices up, and boast a reputation as a pioneer in quality assurance.

    Obviously, and for whatever reason, there is a problem somewhere in Apple’s quality management process.

    Quality control and management is important to ensure the customer gets the value they deserve, and quality management standards like those defined by the ISO 9000 family exist to make quality management work better.

    Although Apple has received certification for ISO 27001 (an information security management standard), it doesn’t appear that they have any ISO 9000 certification for quality management. Who knows, if they had, perhaps they wouldn’t have so many QC issues?

    In this article, I’ll be looking at the ISO 9000 family of quality management standards, breaking down the basics and giving you a few free checklist templates to get you started with your own quality management system.

    Here’s exactly what I’ll be covering:

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    How to Make Your Own Aptitude Test with Process Street (6 Free Templates)

    How to make your own aptitude test with process street

    Career aptitude tests are powerful tools for both employers and employees alike. They can be used to gain insight into personal tendencies and make informed responses to career and hiring decisions.

    Tests like these can differ in:

    • Purpose (i.e. for career placement, selection, counseling, or training)
    • What they measure (i.e. what they are designed to measure, be it personality type, skills, work approaches, values, or vocational interests)
    • What they predict (i.e. performance, quality of work, management potential, career success and satisfaction, your next job)
    • Format (online, paper form, in-person)
    • Standardization and rigor (how subjective or objective are the test results?)

    Some tests are highly structured, with definitive quantifiable outcomes; others are more flexible, and designed to be personally interpreted.

    This article will look at six different types of aptitude test, broadly defined, and run through the process of how you can build your own aptitude tests using Process Street.

    We’ll cover:

    Let’s get started. Continue Reading

    ISO 50001: The Ultimate Guide to Energy Management Systems (EnMS)

    What is ISO 50001 the ultimate guide to energy management systems (EnMS)

    If there was a list of the “Top Ten Problems” facing humanity in the next few decades, what do you think would be at the top?

    Well, it turns out Richard E. Smalley made such a list in 2003, and placed predictions about a looming global energy crisis at the top.

    His prediction focused on the problem of the amount of energy being consumed, against the amount of energy being produced (as well as available sources of energy production) alongside the projected boom of human population to around 8-10 billion by 2050.

    In recent years, there has been a resurgence of attention placed on the topic of energy efficiency and the relationship between energy consumption and climate change.

    It is an undeniable fact that our global climate is rising in temperature. The science is there to prove it; the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other international organizations have acknowledged that recent years have been the hottest since records began.

    As a result, intense weather like heat waves, hurricanes, heavy rains, tropical storms, and rising sea levels all becoming more and more commonplace.

    Despite the rising tide of climate crisis, the demand for energy supply is at an all-time high. The global economy is insatiable in its demand for energy to sustain economic growth and development.

    How should organizations prepare themselves for the inevitable challenge of sustainable adaptation, and for ensuring they have the tools in place to facilitate the systematic energy management approach that will be the core of efforts to improve energy efficiency in the future.

    “Energy efficiency is the most promising means to reduce greenhouse gases in the short term,” – Yvo de Boer, Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

    A systems-scale approach is necessary if organizations want to seriously engage with difficult problems facing sustainable business and adapt for the future of energy management.

    ISO 50001 is a standard designed to help organizations establish efficient and effective energy management systems (EnMS) and improve energy performance.

    Based on the principles of continuous improvement and popularized by the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 management system standards, by implementing these standards companies stand to reduce energy efficiency costs, lower carbon dioxide emissions and prioritize the preservation and sustainable engagement with the environments in which they operate.

    This article will provide an introduction to the ISO 50001 standard, with a simple explanation and tips for getting started with an implementation of your own using Process Street.

    Thankfully, recent changes have made it easier than ever to implement ISO 50001 (and any ISO management system standard), so that will be a big focus of this article.

    Here’s a breakdown of what I’ll be covering here:

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    The 10 Most Effective SEO Link Building Strategies of 2019

    Link Building Strategies

    This is a guest post from Martha Jameson. As an educator at PhDKingdom.com and AcademicBrits.com, Martha found her calling as a writer, after pursuing web design and management. Her main goals are to share her experience, motivation and knowledge with her readers.

    Link building has been a contested subject in SEO circles, not least because of the amount of speculation that goes into figuring out what factors are most important for securing you a top SERP spot.

    Despite the controversy around Google’s search algorithm, a great deal of research has actually gone into figuring out what’s happening under the hood. At this point, we can be fairly sure that link building is a significant factor in the SEO of your website.

    In fact, it’s actually quite difficult to get your website ranking without the help of link building.

    SparkToro’s recent survey of over 1,500 professional SEOs placed the quality of linking sites and pages as the second most important factor, out of 26. That’s a big deal.

    Building links is all about linking your website to others, and theirs to yours. As you increase your links, you increase the ability for your readers to access more relevant data, thereby increasing your own website’s relevance.

    You’ve got to approach link building seriously in order to use it to your utmost advantage. Search engines will crawl through each page of your website in search of this information.

    When you do this right, you can help boost your website rankings and help more readers find and access your content.

    Here are 10 of the most effective SEO link building tips of 2019:

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    Cognitive Functions and Your Personality in the Workplace (Free MBTI Test!)

    Cognitive Functions and Your Personality in the Workplace (Free MBTI Test!)

    We all strive for a better understanding of ourselves and each other, in or out of the workplace. It doesn’t matter what level of the organization you’re at.

    Sometimes we want to communicate better, and develop social relations. Sometimes we want to understand how to work better, and more efficiently.

    Sometimes, you may simply have an itch to try your hand at something new, whether that means picking up new responsibilities in your current position, or taking on a completely new challenge altogether.

    For years, people have been attracted to personality tests. “What kind of person am I?” Presented as a series of weighted questions, you’re given a “type”, and there you have it! You have been enlightened, the long-awaited revelation of your true inner self.

    Except, not exactly. The merit of such simplified personality classifications can be (and has been) debated for as long as they’ve been around, but for many people that’s not the point.

    It doesn’t matter if the tests are a snapshot of your psyche at any given time, subject to the ever-changing whims and complexities of human existence. It doesn’t matter that you might be an INFJ yesterday, and a ESFJ tomorrow (well, it sort of does, but I’m trying to make a point here).

    The point is, these kinds of tests are simply tools of self-analysis and self-reflection, and process improvement. It’s up to you to use these tools to gain insight into yourself and the people around you, and if you take a measured approach and combine it with a keen understanding of the underlying principles behind the popular concept of a “personality test”, you will probably uncover something valuable.

    My goal in this article is to try and provide you with a couple of useful tools to better understand yourself and the way in which you work in the form of a dive into the cognitive functions set out by Carl Jung to describe the 16 different personality types that formed the basis of his psychoanalytic and psychiatric practice.

    I’ll be covering:

    By understanding the theory and definitions behind the hugely popular Myers-Briggs test and Jung’s psychological functions that preceded it, you stand to become more familiar with your own personality and by extension, more tuned-in to why you act the way you do, say the things you say, struggle with some things, and excel at others.

    You will also be able to use this insight to more readily navigate the complex social arena that is professional working life. Why do certain people act and react the way they do? How can you better appreciate the differences in and between others, and the unique strengths that each individual brings to the table? Continue Reading

    What is Fake Agile? Understanding the Dark Side of Agile and How to Avoid It

    fake agile

    Agile is a buzzword. These days, everyone is “doing agile”. Or so they say.

    Despite over 90% of senior executives stating agile adoption as a top priority, less than 10% actually consider their firm to be performing with a high level of agility.

    As much as people love to wear the badge of agile on their sleeve, there is a great deal of confusion swelling in the dark chasm between the aspiration of agile implementation and reality.

    So what is agile?

    It’s basically a philosophy of software development that prioritizes iterative development of working software and solutions through cross-collaboration and self-organizing teams.

    It’s also an umbrella term for a bunch of development frameworks, but agile doesn’t simply mean kanban or scrum.

    Some of the confusion arises when teams equate the agile approach to using an “Agile framework” (usually capitalized).

    Frameworks like these are attractive because they’re sold as simplified solutions to difficult project and process management problems.

    Sure, these frameworks can be an important part of an agile implementation, but they need more. They need a firm foundation to stand upon.

    It’s not enough to simply go through the motions and expect an agile approach to “just work”, especially when transitioning from a more rigid and traditional framework like waterfall.

    In order to drive agile success, teams need to adopt agile philosophy. They need to change the way they think about work ownership, management, and their relationship and duty to customers.

    Without this vital force, frameworks like scrum and kanban fall flat.

    In this article I’ll investigate what it is that separates true agile from the “fake” agile that is often the differentiator between success and failure of a development team. Here’s a quick overview:

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