Author: Stephanie O’Brien
Leverage. Leverage. Leverage.
How does a business with no leverage, get leverage? Or perhaps, you are aware of your current resources, but unclear how to leverage those? In either case, there’s a solution.
Systems and Processes
That’s right – building processes and systems to run your business are the key.
Systems will save your business time and money; processes are the structure of your business.
When I say leverage, you say process.
Leverage! … You said,” Process,” right?!
Get it? Got it!? Good.
Let’s start with a story. I volunteer as the President of the largest cycling club in Western Canada. This board wants to be a governance board but is stuck in operational mode. Why? Because the long term culture has been focused on solving the problem, rather than creating the systems and policies to follow that will enable them to move into the future.
Consider it this way, if you have a pre-planned, pre-written response to a particular inquiry you don’t have to think very hard to respond. If that inquiry comes in as an email, you wouldn’t have to type out the same information five times in the same week. The system and process would be in place.
If you do something once and don’t document it, you’re destined to do it again.
When it comes to the board, the first task I am tackling with them focuses on understanding the importance of having systems, processes and policies in place that are easily accessible both internally and externally (in this case: the board, the coaches, and the administration). By building a process orientation culture at all levels of the organization – the goal becomes long term problem solving.
Do something once, map it out, and then educate everyone on that process. This straightforward concept of “leverage” has the power to save money, get you more time, more business success, and more freedom.
The practice here is to go from chaos to a clearly defined process that is understood and followed by all. It’s the same in your business. Having clearly defined processes to follow will decrease the decision making load on your teams and on management.
Business Process Modelling vs. Business Process Mapping
Business Process Modelling is a diagrammatic/ structural representation of flow of business activities in an organization or function within an organization, whereas Business Process Mapping is a procedure to document, clarify, and break down process sequences into logical steps. The mapping is either done in written format or visualized using flow charts.
To create a business process, follow these steps.
- Define the most common operational procedures. AKA Make a list.
- List the steps needed to complete each of the processes.
- Lay out swimlanes that represent departments.
- Map processes and the information flow through the swimlanes
- Analyze the process.
- Redesign the process.
- Acquire resources.
- Implement and communicate change.
- Review the process.
Let’s quickly review a few definitions:
- Procedure is something that goes on or takes place.
- Process is a series of progressive and interdependent steps by which an end is attained: a chemical process.
- System is a group of interacting or interrelated entities that form a unified whole.
- Policy is a deliberate system of principles to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. It is a statement of intent, and is implemented as a procedure or protocol. Policies are generally adopted by a governance body within an organization.
Action Tip: Always build processes then add people.
But how does a process = freedom?
Processes underlie the systems. The systems run the business and the people run the systems. Some processes can be automated and save yourself the person. People will run the processes and if they aren’t clearly defined, you are adding more chaos and expense.
Action Tool: Grade yourself on your business processes below.
1. The Business uses robust schedules for repetitive tasks (yes / no)
2. The Business has documented & charted all work flow processes (yes / no)
3. All key tasks & routines are documented in a procedures manual (yes / no)
4. I have a process to track & control all updated documentation (yes / no)
5. The Procedures Manual is updated regularly (at least every 90 days) – and there is a documented process to ensure this happens (yes / no)
Action Tool: Grade yourself on your technology.
1. I run a computer based program to track customer details for Sales & Marketing (yes / no)
2. I run a computer based system for stock control, invoicing & credit control (yes / no)
3. Regular off-site back-ups (minimum weekly) are taken – and these are verified at least quarterly for quality (yes / no)
4. All tasks that can possibly be automated have been, & the Team are responsible for delegating more tasks to automation as appropriate (yes / no)
5. I schedule regular maintenance on all key items of equipment (yes / no)
Action Tool: Grade yourself on your team.
1. The Team member understands what their roles & limitations are (yes / no)
2. Each role has been systemized and documented (yes / no)
3. Each Team member understands how their achievements will be measured, i.e. Via KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) (yes / no)
4. I have a system for ensuring people continuity & succession (yes / no)
5. I have a plan to carry out staff appraisals every 6 months (yes / no)
If you didn’t answer Yes to all of the above, or you have more No’s than Yes’s, reach out and book a complimentary coaching session. We can help you with this.
What makes a good process?
There are 4 essential attributes that constitute an ideal business process:
1. Simple – A good business process has a well-defined starting and ending point. It also has a defined number of steps. Creating processes and workflows that are as simple as you can make them feel counterintuitive, but that’s when they are the most helpful.
2. Repeatable – A good business process can be run an indefinite number of times. Your systems and procedures should be like a checklist so that anyone new coming into the business could follow them and complete the task. The steps that are obvious to you can often be missed and that leaves gaps because someone new won’t see the same parts of the system as being obvious.
3. Creates value – It ultimately aims at translating creation of value into executable tasks and does not have any step in the process just for the sake of it. In other words, if any step in the process isn’t adding value, get rid of it!
4. Flexibility – It has a built-in nature of flexibility to change; it is not rigid. When there is any scope for improvement that is identified, the process allows that change to be absorbed within itself without operationally affecting its stakeholders as much.
Creating business processes will allow your team to run the business for you. If you don’t have a team, it will save you from typing out that same email response again and again, and again.. There are definite benefits including regaining time, energy, making more profits, etc. but I honestly believe the biggest ROI developing process brings is the peace of mind it brings to business owners. As a business owner looking to make more profits, your focus will likely take a turn to finding simple business growth systems to support you to reach your goals.
Book a complimentary coaching session HERE to get more freedom.