10 Jul 5 Rules for Smooth Process Management
Question of the Week: “Systemizing My Business Has Gotten Complicated – How Can I Manage Processes More Effectively?”
When you begin putting systems into place for your business, it can definitely get a bit complicated – especially when you get mired down in all the little pieces of information held by different employees for various tasks. Add technology changes or upgrades into the mix, and you have a recipe for confusion – but it’s only natural! Here’s what you can do.
Identify critical areas
First, go back to your original drawing board. How many of your mission-critical processes have you identified to date? Do you have successful policies or procedures in place already? Be sure that you have focused your initial attention on the areas of your business that will provide you the biggest bang for the buck. If you haven’t, then pick out two or three to focus on in the upcoming months.
For each mission-critical process that you identify, you need to recognize what the “best” way is to get that process done. Every person on your business team needs to complete that process in the same way. So if there is one particular employee who has been handling certain tasks forever, they need to be in on this flowcharting process! By doing this, you can assure that all business tasks will function smoothly even if this person is sick or leaves the company. For an example, a flowchart of how a customer is gained and handled would start with the initial lead, and then cover each step of the entire process including such items as proposals, scheduling, installations, follow-ups, retention programs, and future marketing efforts. It includes every “touchpoint” in the business that impacts the customer.
Document how it gets done
This requires writing everything down – and the best way to do that is to create a how-to procedures manual or video for each task you are documenting. Using lots of photos, videos, tapes etc. can only help – we are a media-centered society, and many of us learn best using visual aids versus just reading instructions on paper. As the business owner, you must “own the processes” and own the documentation that supports these processes.
Measure all key performance indicators
Key performance indicators (KPI’s) are the quantifiable measurements that will give you a benchmark of the success of your business on a day-to-day or month-to-month basis. They are the major drivers that impact the performance of your business workings. It is critical to identify the KPI’s most important your own type of business, so that you – the owner – can have a quick “at-a-glance” idea of how well your team is functioning, even if you happen to be at the beach!
Allow room for change
A truly successful business is going to grow – and that means it’s going to change. Be prepared to institute new processes or adjust how processes are handled whenever the need arises. And most importantly, be sure to check in on your team members to ensure that systems and processes are functioning smoothly. Quarterly reports are a great way to do this, and you can make changes as necessary based on the information you gain during these reviews.
In summary, keep in mind that employees will not follow systems and processes that are over-complicated and confusing! After taking a breath, stepping back, and going over each of these 5 basic steps carefully, if you are STILL finding that complications abound, you might need to consider hiring a consultant or a software expert to help you get a grip on the situation. If you are repeatedly hitting roadblocks, it may be a sign that there is a problem with the process itself – and not with your people!