What exactly are they, and why does your business need them
You hear the terms being thrown around all the time. “Your business must have systems & workflows set up to be successful!” or “What have you automated in your business lately?” And hey, we’re one of those people throwing those words around too, but, we are taking pause to ask you, do you really know what that means? And know that it’s ok if you don’t because we’re here to help you.
So here it is, a breakdown of the key terms you’re hearing: systems, workflows, processes and automation and why you need these in your business.
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A business system is a series of interdependent tasks or documented procedures that outline exactly how to do something in an organization to achieve a business objective. Good business systems streamline workload, improve productivity and get results. (according to successwise.com)
Here are some of the key systems a business needs:
Strategic Management System. Strategic management strategies set the direction of the business and spell out the overall goal
Marketing System. Otherwise known as a Lead Generation System
People Management System
Business Processes (SOPs)
Processes (also known as Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs) are recurring or periodic activities that interact to produce a result. Processes standardize how work gets done and lead to more consistent outcomes, while also helping your company achieve its goals. Standardization ensures employees perform a task the same way each time, which is a key factor in being able to scale your business. The 3 types of processes that are most common are:
Operational processes that keep a business running
Management processes that provide oversight of operational processes
Supportive processes that support operational processes
Examples of processes many businesses have are (source: bizmanualaz):
Customer Strategy & Relationships (Marketing)
Employee Development & Satisfaction (Human Resources)
Quality, Process Improvement & Change Management.
Financial Analysis, Reporting, & Capital Management.
Customer Acquisition (Sales)
Workflows define the steps required to complete a task. These are typically repeatable, in a specific order/sequence. Workflows are on of the key areas in a business that can (& should!) be automated & improved upon to improve the overall process.
Examples of workflows include: new employee onboarding, client onboarding, sales process, email marketing drip system, time off requests, expense approvals.
Automation is the use of technology to automate repeatable, day-to-day tasks. Take any of the above workflows, apply technology to automate it and you will save countless hours, reduce errors and allow for your team to focus on the tasks that require more thought, decision making and creativity.
Pulling it All Together
Deciding to begin documenting your systems, processes, workflows and to ultimately begin automating is the first step in getting your "house in order" to scale. These things can take time up front, but ultimately, being able to document your business increases the value, not only in the work your team is doing, but the value of your business as a whole.
Trying to scale your business without having your systems & processes in order is like trying to go rock climbing while wearing sandals. Is it possible? Probably. But is it going to be super freaking hard, inefficient, slow, and painful? Yep, most likely it will be.
So why do you really need to make sure you have systems so clear, and processes so tight? Documenting these will allow your business to:
Create more efficiencies with less time spent on meaningless tasks. This is the dream for most business owners, and their employees.
Have less room for error. Standardizing your processes means your team knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and most importantly - HOW to do it. They are less likely to have errors when they know exactly how to do the work.
Delegate more tasks. It's about time you took something off your plate. Documenting these allows you to pass on the work (while maintaining oversight of course) that has been detailed out and is easy to follow.
Use technology and automation in the right areas, lowering labor costs. Every business owner loves hearing about how something will save you money, right? Automating processes can reduce the amount of time spent on monotonous tasks and frees up your team to make money, not waste it.
Scale more quickly. See above quote about rock climbing ;)
Create consistencies by standardizing. Consistency makes everyones lives easier when there is an exact plan or process to follow, and every person on the team follows it. If Jack goes on vacation, or is out unexpectedly, then Joe can easily pick up the work, because you have a consistent approach and plan that has been documented.
Identify & solve problems more easily. When the process is standardized, those issues or problems are going to be easier to identify. You can pick out the key part of the workflow that doesn't work, adjust, test, and implement. You can continue to refine the process until it is pretty close to perfect.
And we get it, this takes time and costs money. But the more quickly you can implement and build - the better off your business will be in the log run.
Want to get started more quickly? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get you a FREE SOP template and guide to get you going.