What's new?
Who uses Directual?
What can be built on Directual
Learn Directual
Why Directual?

Workflow optimization: 12 strategies for no-coders

April 17, 2024

Things going down the drain? Little tasks taking forever to deliver? No one knows what to do? Here’s 12 whacks you can dish out to nail the processes back in place.

Overconfident klutzes with power tools? A disaster waiting to happen. Take my curtain rod saga. An hour of wrestling to get it level, it was a mess. Holding the rod, juggling a pathetic level, drilling holes in the wall with subpar gear.

Upgraded to a laser level, impact driver, and top-notch drill bits. Now, my handiwork's almost level, as long as you don't stare. Plus, I'm four times faster.

This, my friends, is smart process tweaking. Your no-code business could use a dose of this too. It doesn’t matter if it’s traditional code or no-code. We are all bound by the mess that our heads create when there are too many things at play.

What is process optimization?

Businesses pour cash into streamlining stuff, aiming to crank out more, scrap useless tasks, and rake in bigger bucks.

Sure, it sounds easy. 

But, it's a time and money pit. Tried-and-true frameworks are out there to spotlight your business blunders. Fix them, and you're saving a ton of time and dough for the stuff that really matters.

What are the benefits of process optimization?

Streamlining HR stuff, saving cash, or making lead gen automatic—these are skills every biz manager should have. Keeping those repeat tasks and tricky procedures smooth comes with loads of awesome perks.

  • More consistency. Simpler processes = more predictable results.
  • Higher efficiency. Cut out the extra steps and clutter, and things get done faster.
  • Less risk. Find the risky parts of a process, ditch 'em or beef up safety.
  • Fewer errors. Simple equals fewer chances to mess up.
  • Easy compliance. Keep an eye on rules and reporting without the headache.
  • Better communication. Tear down those team talk barriers or make teaming up part of the workflow.
  • Focus on big-deal tasks. Less time on the boring stuff means more time for the important things.
  • Competitive edge. Being more efficient than the other guys means you can offer faster support, smoother production, or just a better product.
  • Proactive solutions. Fix problems early. Don't wait for them to become big headaches.

Challenges to process optimization

Process optimization is a bit like a magic trick—it's got some serious perks but also a few things to juggle. Here’s the lowdown:

  • Upfront costs. Sure, you'll save cash later, but there's usually an initial investment.
  • Need for a captain. You'll want someone at the helm who's good with plans, goals, and chatting with the team. 
  • Change isn't always welcome. Not everyone's going to be thrilled with new ways of doing things.
  • Keep expectations real: don't expect your new process to fix everything under the sun.

Training time. With new processes often come new tools and steps. Make sure everyone's up to speed.

No offense to anyone reading this, of course

Process optimization software

Software's makes everything easier to handle. These tools help you tidy up, streamline, and ditch the waste. Plus, your team gets to zero in on the stuff that really makes a difference.

  • Kanban apps. These are your go-to for making workflows crystal clear. They break things down into boards, lists, and cards, giving you a dashboard that's easy on the eyes and the brain.
  • Project management tools. Got a zillion projects and a bunch of teams? Project management software is your best friend. It helps you keep your ducks in a row and makes sure everyone's playing nice together. With Directual, you can build your own, too!
  • Flowcharts and diagrams. Seeing is believing, right? Visualization software lets you map out your processes in flowcharts and diagrams. This way, you can spot where time's getting wasted and where things are getting jammed up. Just saying, you can also Directual for this. 

12 business process optimization methods

If "optimization" seems like a fuzzy concept, you're not alone. But hey, there's a clear way around it. Use these optimization frameworks to fix any bumps in your workflow.

1. Lean project management

Lean is all about making projects run smoother and saving you money by kicking waste to the curb. It's a big deal with lots of techniques, different for every industry. But when it comes to managing projects the Lean way, here’s what you’re ditching: wasting time, making too much stuff, doing too much stuff, pointless travel, clunky moves, stocking too much, and messing up products.

To get Lean, just follow these five steps:

  • What’s it worth? First, figure out what your customers and your team really want from what you’re making. Knowing this value helps you make things better.
  • Spot the clutter. Start from square one and map out every single step it takes to get a job done. Look out for any of the time-wasters mentioned above. Value stream mapping can be a real eye-opener here.
  • Rework your workflow. Found the messy bits? Great, now change up your workflow to cut them out.
  • Meet the need. Think about how your team's and customers' needs are being met. A speedy process that ends up causing delays or piles up stock isn’t really Lean.
  • Never stop improving. Remember, there’s no such thing as perfect. Constant improvement, adapting as people, trends, and markets change. Keep hunting for waste to slash and value to boost.

Here's a real-life example: a publisher of nature books wants to cut costs. Their big sellers are hiking guides, but sales go up and down with the seasons, and folks don’t want to pay too much. After checking out their whole process, they find they can save dough by reducing the number of messed-up books and what they spend on storage. Their solution is offer those guides as colorful digital eBooks for the same price, and switch to printing physical books only when someone orders one—and in black-and-white, not color. This way, they only print what’s needed. With eBooks and print-on-demand, they slash both production and storage costs, all without hiking up prices.

This approach is perfect for trimming the fat in workflows, production, and other areas.

2. SIPOC diagram

It's a visual tool that helps the big decision-makers spot chances to make things smoother. Think of it as lining everything up on a metaphorical wall. SIPOC stands for:

  • Suppliers. These are the folks or things giving you what you need to get the job done.
  • Inputs. All the stuff (materials or actions) you need to kick off the process.
  • Processes. The steps you take from start to finish using those inputs.
  • Outputs. What you end up with, like a product, service, or some kind of action.
  • Customers. The people who'll use or benefit from what you've produced. That could be actual customers, partners, or even your own team.

Let's see it in action: a bakery owner wants to test out a fancy sandwich and teams up with a butcher. They whip up a SIPOC diagram to figure out the Suppliers (the bakery owner, butcher, ingredient folks), Inputs (the new recipe, special meat, other ingredients), Process (getting ingredients, prepping them, cooking), Outputs (a new thing on the menu), and Customers (the bakery and butcher shops, plus their customers). The diagram helps them smooth out how they exchange ingredients and make the sandwich, align their budgets, and set a fair price.

This approach is ace for getting a bird's-eye view of a process.

3. Process mining

Process mining digs into the data you already have to spot patterns, map out how your business really works, and put some solid numbers behind it.

Here's how it plays out: a healthcare provider grabs some data mining software and starts sifting through records like phone calls, appointment times, bills sent, and bills paid. By digging into real, up-to-date data, they spot the spots (ha!) where they can make scheduling and billing better. This helps keep patients coming back and gets those invoices paid faster.

It's perfect for when you want to slap some actual numbers on what your business is doing and take a closer look.

4. Six Sigma

Six Sigma started as Motorola's brainchild, a mathy way to keep an eye on quality in manufacturing. But it's not just for factories. It's a nifty Lean tool for less waste, better accuracy, and smoother operations.

That can be you too!

So, Six Sigma means keeping things super consistent, with only 3.4 hiccups per million tries. It's also a champ in Agile project management, where fast and continuous software updates love a no-trouble approach.

There are two main plays for Six Sigma, depending on your game plan. If you're tuning up what you've got, there's DMAIC. Starting fresh? That's where DMADV comes in.


DMAIC—here’s what it stands for when you’re fixing up what you already do:

  • Define. Kick off by nailing down the problem, what you're aiming for, the steps involved, the rules of the game, and who's gonna benefit.
  • Measure. Collect some data. This is your yardstick for seeing how things change later on.
  • Analyze. Dive into that data to figure out why things might be going sideways or not hitting your targets.
  • Improve. Brainstorm some fixes for those trouble spots and give them a whirl. Keep an eye on how they measure up to your original data.
  • Control. If those ideas work, make them part of your regular routine.


DMADV is up next—here's the breakdown:

  • Define. First, sketch out what you want this process to achieve.
  • Measure. Put some real numbers on the things that really matter for quality—whether it's for the customer, the product, or the end result.
  • Analyze. With your goals and numbers in hand, dream up a process design that ticks all the boxes.
  • Design. Roll up your sleeves and build that process. Give it a test run to see if it's up to scratch.
  • Verify. Time to launch! Check that the process is doing what you wanted, hitting your targets, and staying within any limits.

Here's it in action: a printing business is grappling with rising material costs in a market that doesn't like price hikes. With DMADV, they figure out that upgrading their equipment reduces print errors, saving them cash and boosting income.

This approach is perfect for solving specific problems or designing new processes from scratch.

5. Value stream mapping (VSM)

Consider value stream mapping as your process's personal mapmaker. Like a SIPOC diagram, this Lean tool lets you see things as they really are, so you can spot where to make things better. VSM takes those tricky, complex processes with all their hidden costs and resources, and lays them out in an easy-to-understand format with clear values.

Here's how to do it: map out every step of your process. For each one, jot down the time it takes, any costs involved, and if it's actually bringing value to the table. Once you've got your process in easy-to-read value terms, you can craft a slicker version that cuts out the time-wasters and pricey steps that don't really pay off.

Let's see it in action: a marketing firm wants to speed up how they deliver to clients. A smart manager maps out their whole production process, from the first lead to the final delivery. They find that by tweaking how they handle the concept phase, they can make team communication smoother and shave off 10 non-billable hours from every project.

This method is a winner for getting a clear view of complex processes and spotting where you're losing time and money.

6. Five whys

The five whys technique is all about swapping guesswork for cold, hard facts in problem-solving. It's pretty simple: when you hit a snag, just keep asking "Why?" five times. It’s a tactic any parent of a toddler knows too well (and probably wishes they could forget).

What's cool about this method is it keeps you focused on the real deal, not on what-ifs. You're digging into what actually went wrong, not what might have.

Each "Why?" peels back a layer, getting you closer to the root of the issue. When you hit an answer, ask why that's the case. Keep going until you reach the heart of the matter. Fixing that core issue could sort out the bigger problem you started with.

For example: a productivity app's sales were down during a back-to-school promo. Using the five whys, they drilled down to find out why students weren't signing up for a free trial. 

  • First why: low free trial signups. 
  • Second why: few conversions on the landing page. 
  • Third why: lots of users bailed on the signup process. 
  • Fourth why: over 70% left at the first page of the form. 
  • Fifth why: The second page asked for credit card info. 

The correct move taken was to drop the credit card step and relaunch the campaign later in the semester.


7. 5S

Don't mix this up with the five Y's from earlier. 5S is a super practical Lean method for sprucing up your workspace. Each "S" comes from a Japanese word that also starts with "S."

  • Sort (Seiri, 整理). Take a look around. Keep what you need, toss what you don't. This is all about decluttering.
  • Set in order (Seiton, 整頓). Now, with the keepers, get them organized. Everything should have a spot and be easy to grab.
  • Shine (Seiso, 清掃). Time for a deep clean. This goes for both your physical and virtual spaces.
  • Standardize (Seiketsu, 清潔). Keep the place neat. Hire cleaning pros or have a team rotation to do the tidy-up.
  • Sustain (Shitsuke, 躾). Make a game plan to keep your space looking sharp.

Here's how it works in real life: a growing startup moves into a new space, fills it with the latest gear, sets up workstations, and brings in new people. They toss old equipment (Sort), stash office supplies in a clear closet (Set in Order), bring in cleaners for a weekend scrub-down (Shine), book weekly cleaning sessions (Standardize), and do biannual checks to avoid clutter build-up (Sustain).

5S is perfect for making your workspace more organized.

8. Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA)

Sometimes you'll hear about PDSA, which is just another name for Plan-Do-Study-Act. It's a Lean technique that's all about checking the impact of a change. It's not for finding new ideas or pinpointing problems, but it's great for seeing if your fixes are doing what you hoped. Here's how it rolls:

  • Plan. Nail down a specific issue, set measurable goals related to it, pick a change to tackle the problem, and decide how you'll measure success. To boost this step, mix in the five whys (to zero in on the problem) or a SWOT analysis (to sharpen your goals).
  • Do. Time to roll out your plan. Set a baseline to measure the change against, pick how long you'll test it, and keep tracking data to see the results.
  • Study. Once time's up, compare the new performance to your baseline. Did your change get the results you wanted?
  • Act. If your tweak did the trick, awesome! Make it a regular part of your process. If not, no sweat. Just start over with a fresh solution.

Here’s a real-world example: a travel agency notices their marketing emails aren't getting opened as much, and summer's right around the corner. They think maybe snappier subject lines with some fun emojis might get more clicks. The goal was to boost open rates by at least 25% (Plan). For three months, they split their email list in two. Group A gets the usual longer, no-emoji subject lines, while Group B gets shorter, emoji-filled ones (Do). After the three months, they see that Group B's emails are opened 33% more (Study). So, they decide all their marketing emails should have short, emoji-packed subject lines from now on (Act).

This approach is great for checking if a specific tweak really works.

9. Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management is all about seeing the big picture in boosting performance, deliverables, and customer happiness. Fixing issues and giving your team the power to do their best. TQM is a never-ending journey to less mistakes, more efficiency, and making sure everyone has what they need to shine. Here's the gist of it:

  • Quality gets better all the time. "Quality" can mean different things for different businesses. Check out what your customers think to understand it better. After all, they're the judges of whether you're hitting the mark.
  • Everyone's on the quality team. In TQM land, everyone from the ground up is part of the success story. The crew needs the right training and tools, and the bosses need to spot and fix any training or resource gaps.
  • Keep on improving. Perfection's a myth, but getting better isn't. TQM isn't just a quick fix; it's a mindset for constant betterment.
  • Show your work. To keep leveling up, you've got to prove you're moving forward. Use clear metrics for your product's quality, set aims, and make changes that nudge you toward those key performance indicators (KPIs).

Here's TQM in the real world: an edtech company's feeling the heat from rivals with fancier software at the same price. So, they dive into TQM for some self-improvement. They do a thorough check-up of each department to sniff out chances to level up. The management squad hits up workshops on making processes slicker. The sales team gets regular training from outside experts. Marketing gets some cash to give the website a facelift. And the product folks chat with college teachers to figure out how to tweak their software to better fit what users want.

TQM is ideal for building a game plan that's all about getting better and better.

10. Workflow analysis

Workflow analysis takes a magnifying glass to each step in your workflow, using tools like flowcharts, value stream maps, swimlane diagrams, and super-detailed business process maps that show how everything connects and what resources you need.

Here’s an example: imagine a company selling a content management system. They handle sales, customer support, and their own internal stuff. But there's a snag when customers call for help. The support agents can't see the sales data related to that customer's purchase. So, they end up playing phone tag with the sales team to get info. With workflow analysis, they spot this hiccup and come up with a fix: a shared dashboard where sales and support can both see customer details. This trims down call times and keeps support agents clued in.

This approach is great for shaving off unnecessary steps and saving resources in tasks you do all the time.

11. Kaizen

The Kaizen method is all about baby steps. Instead of one big makeover, it's about making tiny tweaks here and there. This way, you can grow over time without throwing a wrench in your daily grind. It started in manufacturing, but now software teams are all over it, too.

For instance: take a company selling bookkeeping software. Initially, they're the new kid on the block, struggling to keep up with the big names. They decide to go the Kaizen route, adding new features gradually, one at a time. Fast forward a year, and their tool's doing all sorts of fancy accounting stuff, right up there with the top dogs.

Kaizen is perfect for playing the long game and steering clear of big, sudden changes.

12. BPO project management

Business process outsourcing is when you let a third-party company handle some of your tasks, like calling in the experts so your own team doesn’t get overwhelmed. Usually, businesses outsource stuff they're not set up for, things that aren't their main gig, or jobs that cost too much to do in-house.

Here’s a real-life scenario: picture an online fashion resale site. They've got a solid team for web development and shipping, but building a payment system? Not really their thing. So, they hire an outside billing company to take care of that part. In return, the fashion folks pay a monthly fee for these services.

BPO is a smart move when there are parts of your business you just can't handle on your own.

Executing optimization in 7 steps

No matter which process optimization trick you pick, there's a pretty standard game plan you’ll usually follow. 

  • Spot the issue. First up, figure out what's not working. You've got to know the problem to fix it.
  • Set clear goals. Just saying "make it better" isn't enough. Aim for goals you can actually measure and achieve.
  • Think ahead. Ponder what changing your process will do. Sure, it might fix one thing, but could it stir up something else?
  • Make your move. Start tweaking things bit by bit, nudging your way from problem to solution.
  • Track your progress. Keep an eye on the numbers. They'll tell you if you're really moving toward your goals and how well your changes are working.
  • Always tweak: Didn’t nail it the first time? Try again. If it worked, great! Now, what's the next thing you can improve?
  • Embrace automation. Let automation handle the repeat stuff. It can even suggest new ways to tweak your process.

For no-code users, it’s even easier because if you need extra tools for process optimization, you can just build them yourself. 


Process optimization is a lot like fixing up your house—it's a never-ending story. Keep making things smoother, smarter, and more efficient. Workflows, smart analytics, and proper no-code arsenal will make changes that really count.

Want to learn more about process automation with Directual? Send us a message at hello@directual.com, or better yet, head into our communities—the links are in the footer below.


Can no-code platforms be used for process optimization?
Can no-code platforms be used for process optimization?

No-code platforms like Directual allow you to automate routine tasks, streamline data management, and build custom applications for your process automation.

What are some common problems in process optimization?
What are some common problems in process optimization?

The road to process optimization can have a few bumps, like overcomplicating solutions, underestimating the importance of user-friendly interfaces, or not adapting quickly to changing needs. No-code platforms, like Directual, help you create user-friendly tools. Plus, with no-code, you're not stuck waiting for IT support—you can make changes on the fly as your business evolves.

Can process optimization really lead to significant business growth?
Can process optimization really lead to significant business growth?

Absolutely! With tools like Directual, you can quickly implement changes, test new strategies, and fine-tune processes code-free. This agility can give your business a competitive edge.

Featured blog posts

Top 10 no-code form builder platforms for 2024

Got a form for someone to fill out but no desire to code-monkey the whole thing? Look no further—10 options to choose from, right here.

May 13, 2024
Pavel Ershov

Are no-code platforms like Directual compliant and secure?

Thinking no-code platforms will run away with your data? Think again, or better yet—read this and it’ll help you sleep at night.

April 30, 2024
Pavel Ershov

No-coding and affiliate marketing: top 10 directions for 2024

Discover how affiliate marketing can turn your online presence into profit by focusing on niche markets. Monetize blogs and social media effortlessly.

April 5, 2024
Eugene Doronin

Introducing a new way to earn D-coins!

Earn D-coins by shouting about Directual everywhere! See the full list of rewards for your social network activities.

March 27, 2024
Pavel Ershov

How to make the most out of Directual’s pricing and resource limits

For everyone on the fence about trying and worrying about the small print: see in depth how Directual pricing and operational limits work! The platform is as pay-as-you-go as it gets.

March 19, 2024
Pavel Ershov

Creating an employee portal with no-code

Imagine HR as a wild jungle. A bit more civilized though, thanks to the order of no-code development. See how you too can tame it.

March 14, 2024
Pavel Ershov

Ready to build your dream app?

Join 15,000+ no-coders using Directual and create something you can be proud of—both faster and cheaper than ever before. It’s easy to start thanks to the visual development UI, and just as easy to scale with powerful, enterprise-grade databases and backend.