Processes have a bad rap. They are seen by many as the administrative overhead that suck the life out of large organizations. But the reality is without processes nothing will work. Invoices cannot be issued. New clients cannot be on boarded. Products cannot be made. Without processes nothing will happen because they are the engines of our businesses. Think about what people buy when they buy a franchise. They buy a set of fully tested and very effective processes! So the reality is if we have a working business we have processes. And yet we are always being challenged by them. What are some of those challenges?
- A process can only be done by the person doing it! When they are on vacation or leave no one else knows how to do it.
- With infrequent processes (e.g. quarterly HST reports) we are always rethinking how to do it. We are reinventing the wheel every time.
- Sometimes the same process can have different results. For example, a list of outstanding receivables will be different depending on the criteria fed into the process.
- Processes result in errors, the worst kind being errors that are assumed to be correct!
- Training new people takes longer and results in different ways of doing something that could be less efficient than before.
There is solution and it is simple! Document the processes. Here’s how: â€¢ Don’t try and document them all at once. Prioritize them into 4 categories:
- Processes that could be delegated
- Infrequent processes
- Complex ones
- Ones that are error prone
Create a simple layout; ours is like this:
- Name of the process
- General description
- Sequence of steps
- Examples; forms filled out, printed reports etc
Document the process when it is being done. â€¢ Keep reminding everyone ‘ this is not to be a literary masterpiece. â€¢ And file them! And we like simple so our filing system is simple:
- We have a binder
- Inside the binder are some pre-numbered tabs 1 to 50
- A new process goes into the next available tab
- At the front of the binder is an index of processes and their tab numbers
A final thought about documented processes. When you want to sell your business you will get considerably less for the company if the buyer cannot see a well documented set of tested processes.