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How to Smash Your Business Bottlenecks (Plus 3 Key Tools to Help!)

how to smash your business bottlenecksOn October 3rd 2017, the Financial Times reported that Tesla shares had slumped after the business hit a bottleneck in its production.

Tesla shares fell nearly 2 per cent to $335.91 after the Palo Alto-based company said that it produced just 260 of its Model 3 vehicles in the third quarter, well below the target of more than 1,500 that chief executive Elon Musk had predicted for the month of September alone.

What caused that failure to hit the target?

A bottleneck.

A bottleneck is when one process in a chain of processes cannot perform to the standard of those around it, creating a delay which damages the other processes.

No matter how well Tesla creates batteries or programs its self-driving software, if the factory can’t, for example, install tires fast enough then Tesla can only produce cars at the rate it installs tires.

That poor process brings all of production down to its level. Business output becomes defined by its weakest link.

But it’s not just shop floor industrial processes which fall foul of these problems. Any business or set of operations will be faced with this challenge too. In this article, we’ll look at a couple of approaches you can use to attempt to identify and overcome bottlenecks in your business.

  • Flow charts help you visualize current operations
  • The Five Whys technique allows you to identify root causes quickly
  • Toyota’s three concepts for process implementation focus your improvement
  • How Process Street can assist in beating bottlenecks

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The Best Browsers, Compared with Data: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, Safari, and Vivaldi

As a gateways to the internet, browsers are one of the most popular types of software out there. Everyone needs one, but which is the best? The market changes so quickly, it can be hard to keep up with the facts.

Which is the fastest? Which has the best extensions? Which is the most secure? While many people use Chrome, or their default pre-installed browsers, this doesn’t necessarily indicate a ‘best’ browser.

If you’re reading this, you want to find the fastest, most capable, browser for your needs. Finding the most popular isn’t enough, because those stats aren’t always related to quality.

Browser popularity data from W3Counter, retrieved October 2017.

In this article, I’m going to use hard data to decide on the best browser on the market, looking at the most popular options: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, Opera, and Vivaldi.

I’ll compare speed, memory usage, range of extensions, privacy, and usability.

Looking for a new browser? Want to be sure you’re using the best technology on the market? Keep reading for a full data-driven comparison after a general overview.

Click here to skip down to the hard data and avoid the broad overviews

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How Wodify Uses Process Street to Onboard Employees and Manage Customer Success

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Wodify is a long time customer of Process Street that uses the platform to streamline their employee onboarding and power their customer success program. We spoke to their Product Manager Elli Rego about how they use Process Street in their business.

The Wodify Story

Fitness requires motivation and dedication, both of which are driven by competition and human connection. Thus, gyms need to connect with their members to survive.

Wodify gives gyms the platform they need to do just that.

Wodify Core is a gym management platform that lets owners and coaches quickly deal with their admin to focus on getting the best out of their members.

Schedules can be created and edited on the fly, member attendance is tracked and automatically billed, and everyone’s performance can be monitored and referenced to show just how well their workouts are going.

Competitions can be set up and easily managed with Wodify Arena, letting the fitness community push itself to train harder while live scoring keeps the results tense.

Gyms and their members are performance-driven by nature, and Wodify works to let their customers focus on just that.

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The Best Payment Platforms: Stripe vs Paypal vs Square vs Braintree

stripe_vs_paypal_vs_square_vs_braintree best payment platformIn the first quarter of 2017, the AppStore and Playstore saw record revenues yet again with a whopping total of $15 billion worldwide, representing a year over year growth of 45%.

Add in other online sales and the amount of money being spent is astronomical.

But how do we process all these sales? And what means of processing is best for your company?

We’ve pondered the question at Process Street and decided to write up our findings. In this article, we’ll compare Stripe, Paypal, Square, and Braintree to see what each do and how they do it. We’ll analyze those findings and suggest which might be better for different kinds of businesses.

The key areas we’ll compare are:

  • Features – what do they offer and what can’t they do?
  • Pricing – where can we find those small gains which make a difference at scale?
  • Ease of use – can a regular person integrate it into their business, or is a developer needed?

But first, let’s look at some of the different use cases for these payment platforms to contextualize our investigation.

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6 Ways to Use Stop Tasks to Improve Your Team’s Workflow

Process Street is the easiest way to create workflows for your team and track their progress. Our simple process creator helps teams build checklists for everything from employee onboarding to content promotion.

Often, processes are too delicate to handle in a free-for-all checklist, and you need more control over the order tasks are completed.

That’s where stop tasks come in.

Put simply, stop tasks prevent users from working through a checklist until the stop task has been completed.

In template view, stop tasks are indicated with a ✋-style icon just underneath the task number.

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Productivity vs Efficiency: How to Analyze the Performance of Anything

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Productivity vs efficiency; which do you think is more important?

A colleague asked me this the other day and I had to catch myself, because my initial response was:

Aren’t they the same thing?

That’s the problem – the words have become so overused and confused that they are almost taken to mean the exact same thing in casual conversation. There are, however, key differences between the two that you should know in order to correctly analyze the performance of something.

Simply put, productivity measures output over time whereas efficiency measures input versus output. Together they can tell you how quickly something is completed, the resources it takes to get there, and (through analysis) whether the whole thing is worth your investment.

There are also dangers associated with these metrics. For example, I tried to spend an hour every night working on one of many projects. Monday was playing guitar, Tuesday was physical drawing, Wednesday game development, Thursday digital drawing, Friday playing piano, and the weekend dealer’s choice.

Not only did I give up within a week and a half, but I couldn’t muster the motivation to do any work on any of my projects for weeks following. It doesn’t matter if you’re using the best productivity apps around; when you’re using productivity and efficiency as your goal, rather than the method to reach it, something will inevitably break underneath you.

productivity vs efficiency - inktober

So, in this post I’ll go through:

  • What productivity is
  • The pros and cons of productivity as a metric
  • What efficiency is
  • The pros and cons of efficiency as a metric
  • When to use each of them
  • The problems and dangers of both

It’s time to analyze performance and improve your workflows without all the meaningless jargon. Let’s get started.

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How to Analyze an Article: Don’t get Fooled by Terrible Advice


how to analyze and article don't get fooled by terrible advice headerThere’s a lot of advice on the internet. Some of it is good, some of it is terrible, and some sits in the gray area between.

Within the fields of tech and startups, a lot of what people do day to day is influenced by what they’ve learned online; I doubt many people reading this article learned in school how to effectively market a product over Instagram!

Sorting the good from the bad is a challenge we all face, and one we have to become better at as individuals and as a society.

Improving our ability to analyze information doesn’t just mean identifying fake news, though we will look briefly at it. It also means being able to take a second look at informative journalism and the reporting of research; the kind of information which you might use to inform big business decisions. We’ll look at:

  • The importance of recognizing the gray area in complex issues and reviewing the source text.
  • How media reporting of studies can often obscure the real points
  • Why certain models of investigation can have inherent flaws, and why you should be wary of that.

At the end I’ll follow up with the 10 step process you can use to improve your analysis. This process is pulled from the recommendations of Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, and Michael Shermer, and repurposed for your professional needs.

But first, let me tell you a little story…

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User Feedback: 3 Methods We Tested to Better Understand Our Users

I’ve written before about how we collect feedback on our marketing material and how that helps us write useful posts for our subscribers, but the other reason we gather user feedback focuses on expanding and improving the Process Street app.

With user feedback data, we can:

  • Choose which features to build based on the frequency they’re requested
  • Get data on bug reports which helps our engineering team build fixes
  • See the most common industries and use cases for our product, which guides our marketing in the right direction

Whether you’re in software or not, you still need to be gathering and processing feedback from everybody possible: leads, prospects, free users, and paying customers.

In this post, I’m going to outline the three methods you can use to gather feedback for your company. These are three methods we’ve used ourselves in the past as our business has evolved, so the complexity and usefulness of each method is higher than the last. Which method is right for you?

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The 17 Best Apps for Business: A Look at Our Team’s Home Screens

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With today’s fast pace of living, it’s vital to have on-the-go access to everything that’s important to your work.

Rather than staring blankly out of a window on your train or bus to work, you could then instead be planning your day and organizing meetings, or commenting on tasks and sorting through your inbox to avoid getting distracted at the office.

However, with the sheer variety of technology on offer it’s also difficult to know what mobile apps you should be using.

That’s why I asked the Process Street team to share the best mobile apps for business they have installed and how they use them.

best mobile apps for business - intro to post

From the most valuable apps across our entire company to one-off niche cases that could do with a little more exposure, in this article I’ll highlight the apps that let our team stay productive and make every moment count.

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How 4 Top Startups are Reinventing Organizational Structure

organizational structure headerWhen a city doubles in size, the productivity per person increases by 15%. When a company doubles in size, the opposite happens.

Companies like Zappos see this as a fundamental problem to solve. For them, the root lies in organizational structure.

With the opportunity to be dispersed remotely and to build complex products without factories and production lines, the tech industry is particularly able to pursue innovative approaches to structure, management, and organization.

Increased self-management, remote working, and task forces instead of departments, are all emerging trends which lend themselves to growing businesses.

Elon Musk talks about his businesses innovating the production process as much as the product. Mark Zuckerberg describes Facebook’s structures and organization as its biggest asset.

Ethan Bernstein, Assistant Professor of Leadership in Organizational Behavior at Harvard Business School, adds:

…[O]rganizations who are increasingly thinking about structure as an advantage and a form of making their employees more productive, will continue to evolve and innovate in this direction. And that’s something I think we’ll see across all organizations, regardless of whether they are trying to deliver “wow” to customers, or trying to do something very different.

So what are the competing philosophies which are driving these trends within the industry? Which companies have implemented the most extreme reorganizations and how have they dealt with the changes?

In this article we’ll look at:

  • Zappos: How they implemented Holacracy, with a why and how explanation.
  • Buffer: The steps they took to prioritize the individual within the company over management structures, with the challenges they faced and the lessons they learned.
  • Zapier: How they reflect these general shifts and why they chose not to dive in to extreme organizational innovation.
  • Basecamp: The marriage of many competing philosophies documented through their company handbook.
  • Process Street: The tool which helps you build the machine which builds the machine.

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