A lot of people struggle with establishing processes for their businesses. It feels bureaucratic, stifling and it can be some serious work up front to get things documented and figured out.
However it’s not rocket science…by any stretch of the imagination.
The trick, assuming that you’re a business that’s already up and running is that you are already following a process. You may not be following it consistently, you may not have a great handle on all of the components (i.e. it’s not written anywhere) but in order to get the work done you are following certain steps to go from start to finished.
Let’s take an example that every business is dealing with – paying bills (note – if you have a business without any expenses, you’re probably leaving opportunities on the table).
There’s a chance that you pay bills in a very reactionary manner – when they come across your desk and you have a couple of free minutes you write a check or go online and just pay whatever needs to be paid. Hopefully you record the checks and validate the amounts on the bill, but it’s a start. As simple as that is – it’s a process and you could document it fairly easily.
It’s more likely that you have a set period of time (maybe the end of the week, the 1st and the 15th of the month, etc.). At that point, your person responsible for accounts payable picks up all of the invoices that have accumulated (you probably have a bill folder). You may have a review step where the invoices are checked with who ever should have the details and with ownership. You may have a step to confirm there are adequate funds for payment. Assuming everything is good, no disputes and there’s money in the bank, then checks would be written and you would do whatever’s needed to make sure the expenses are reflected in your accounting (a different process).
That’s a process…it might be missing a few details and you’d need to outline what needs to be done if there is a dispute or if there’s not enough cash, but overall it’s pretty straightforward.
If you’re a single person business without a lot of change or growth going on, you may not need to worry too much about processes. However, if you ever want to get out of doing everything yourself, or if you have employees who own the responsibility for different aspects of your business, a written process is critical.
When you document, use and improve processes on a regular basis, you can turn your business into an incredible machine that can eventually run without you. Imagine taking a 2 month vacation and everything is running smoothly…without you!
When you don’t use written processes – especially with multiple employees, you are asking for failures, inconsistent delivery, miscommunication and general chaos. You will be unable to grow and things will be a struggle. (no vacation for you!).
The six elements of a good process
A client of mine recently sent me (and his staff) this concise and powerful description of the elements that are needed for a quality process:
- Must produce desired result
- Must be in writing
- Must be accountable to someone
- May be duplicated by anyone
- Must be simple
- Must bring clarity to the whole team
The goal is to eventually make everything as simple as possible (and no simpler) and maximize your results.
That doesn’t sound like rocket science to me.
Does your company have written processes? Are there any additional elements missing from the description above? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach