Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.
No More “What’s Next?”: Simple Process Design | Extraordinary Business
Processes take the guesswork and delays out of “what happens next?” This could be in sales, marketing, customer service or any other area of your business that you need to do, repeatedly. Personal productivity Expert, Peggy Duncan, reminds us that “if you have to do it more than once, you need to create a process for it.” It’s just that simple.
Creating a process isn’t simply a matter of talking about it…it is a matter of writing it down, which will serve for several purposes:
- Visualizing the process will help you and others on your team see, immediately, if everything makes sense.
- You can put a dollar value to the process (how long does it take, who needs to do it and how much do they earn) in order to determine the total cost of the activity.
- You have a foundation for continuous improvement. You can conceptualize ways to make the process easier, and move toward integration of assets to improve the process. For example, if you are in sales, that might look like finding an intuitive CRM system for the sales team to use.
- You can pass the process along. When bringing new team members into the team, being able to walk them through the process and give them documentation to reinforce the training will make the training process more efficient (as in costing you less).
- You can determine the best person for the job. For example, if you, as the business leader, are used to doing the lion’s share of the business development activities for the business. Are there parts of the process that other people (who cost the business less than you do) could do? Are there parts of the process members of your team might do better than you do?
To create a process, you need a few things.
- Sticky notes and something to write with
- An understanding of what needs to happen
- Room to work. The more steps in your process, the more room you will need. You might consider using a wall if you have access to one with enough space
Write the destination, or what you hope to accomplish on the first sticky note. If you begin with the end in mind, you won’t end up getting off track. Then, write down each step on individual sticky notes. For example, if you were going to create a process around going outside, one of the steps would be check the temperature. That would go on one sticky note. The next one might say something along the lines of determining what clothing to wear based on the temperature.
Next, you’ll put the steps of the process in order. Without adding your resources (people, software, etc.), review it, and review it, again. Leaving your resources out will allow you to be objective, so you can see, clearly, if you need to realign resources with steps. Are there steps in the process that need to be added? Are there extra steps? Are there things that could be done better.
On separate sticky notes, decide what resources will be used for what steps, and create a sticky note that you can stick to the process step. Again, using the sticky notes versus writing on the step, itself, will allow you to realign resources with processes.
Once you are satisfied with what you have created, write it down. Now let your team review it and try to break it. Address the “what if” scenarios. Address the concerns that your team shares with you about certain steps in the process. Realize that you may not be able to meet everyone’s concerns, make an effort to discuss them, and offer logical explanations (it’s in the best interest of the company doesn’t quite cut it). Make any necessary updates, and work with your team to implement the process.
Remember, you will need to review your processes periodically to make adjustments. Getting better at what you do and how you do it is a hallmark of business success.
Separating your company from being a mediocre one will require a bit more work. While things might not immediately move extremely quickly, if you are able to look at the longevity, stability and profitability of the organization, you will find that the extra work lays the groundwork to launch you from ordinary to extraordinary.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses. We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services. As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions. If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].