Why are processes so powerful?
Because they are the engines of your business; they make sure everything happens when and how it should.
Yet they have a bad rap. They are seen by many as administrative overhead that sucks the life out of organizations and so should be avoided at all costs. But the reality is without processes nothing will work. Invoices cannot be issued. New clients cannot be on boarded. Products cannot be made.
All companies have processes of course. But is your business running with makeshift processes or are they well thought out, well designed, documented and followed by everyone? If the latter then you have a valuable business because:
- It is less dependent on you.
- It is efficient and there will be few errors.
- You will be able to delegate work and train new people quickly and effectively; essential if you are growing.
- The business will be attractive to potential buyers.
- It can grow and profits will increase.
If your business is humming along like a well oiled franchise then congratulations; you have a valuable business. If, on the other hand, you can see great opportunities to improve your business engine then embark on a program of creating and documented the processes.
The first step is to recognize there are four types of processes:
- Procedural ‘ how to do things. For example, how to deposit a credit card payment.
- Checklist ‘ things to remember. Example, checklist to set up a workshop room.
- Action list ‘ things to do. Example, onboarding a new client.
- Standards ‘ the way things look. Example, style guides for document layouts and fonts.
Second step is to identify all the processes and prioritize them in the order they will be worked on. The order is:
- Those that consistently cause problems and errors, especially in your interaction with clients.
- Processes that can be delegated now.
- Infrequent processes that cause reinventing the wheel every time they are carried out.
- Large complex processes that require multiple people.
- The rest!
The third and final step is to start working on them. We believe in simplicity. Here are our simple guidelines:
- Design and document a process as it is being done. The beauty of this approach is that you can create them while you are acting them out:
- Don’t think that documented processes have to be a work of art or a literary masterpiece or a university thesis. They just need to be understood.
- Decide on a simple layout for your documented processes. Our layout is:
- Purpose ‘ like the name of the section ‘ Example: Adding a new client to Outlook.
- General Description ‘ the high level picture of how to add a new client to Outlook
- Sequence of Steps ‘ the step by step process
- Use Examples (filled forms, printed reports etc)
- Date all the Pages and store in red Binder
The work on processes never ends. They are living, breathing things that need constant attention and updating. But if you want to build a strong, sustainable and valuable business you cannot ignore the Power of Processes.