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.
Why It Just Ain’t Working
4 reasons business process management is critical to your company’s “leveling up.”
So, he got a new client. This one is a BIG one. He gets his team scrambling to get paperwork, initiate billing, schedule meetings and God knows what else as he thinks only about how to keep the client now that he’s finally hooked them! He feels that it is up to only him to make it happen as quickly as possible!
If I had a dime for every time…
At many of the firms we’ve worked with that have leadership seeking to build a stronger, scalable company, the following phrases are heard:
- Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is the definition of insanity
- It seems like every time we do this we have to reinvent the wheel!
- We don’t have time for processes…we just need to get the work done!
- I need someone to take ownership of this and just get it done!
- Yeah…this is how we do it…and you’ll just have to wait until we get to that part and it will come together. We’ve talked about it. We’ve got it.
They all make sense, right?
So, one would assume that everything is under control until everything is FUBAR (Fried Up Beyond All Recognition (That’s what I heard and I’m sticking with it!))…then at the end of the day, week, month, comes the phrase “I’ve spent all day/week/month fighting fires!”
Some of the business owners we have worked with simply didn’t know that what they were doing wasn’t working. These owners were so busy doing that they couldn’t see the forest through the trees. They got up at the crack of dawn, worked their tails off, running here and there, making lights flash, things pop and lots of noise…and believe me. They got stuff done. Just not as much as they could have gotten done!
If I had a dime…
BPM.com describes Business Process Management as “a discipline involving any combination of modeling, automation, execution, control, measurement and optimization of business activity flows, in support of enterprise goals, spanning systems, employees, customers and partners within and beyond the enterprise boundaries.” Essentially, it is a combination of thinking, planning, measuring and doing in order to get things done more efficiently. Sometimes it is as simple as walking into the room, removing your shoes, putting your keys in a jar and hanging up your coat or as complex as a safety check on a space ship.
In the first scenario, much of the noise that this guy created – the energy, the worry, etc. – could have been addressed through business process management with a couple of solutions:
- A document management system that would automate getting document signatures, filing and getting the initial payment. These could be set up ahead of time if integrated with a
- CRM system, that keeps track of the relationship with the client, from initial engagement through relationship management. All of the custom information for the document management system could be prepopulated in the CRM before the proposal is even written. So, the documents in the DMS are auto-populated and are out the door with a click of a button
- Project Management system. One of the most valuable tools we have implemented was the PM system, which can be used to ensure that processes are being used, workflows followed and work is distributed among team members without someone having to send an email that may get lost in the ten thousand or so emails we get each month. Go figure.
Notice that the processes in this case are simplified through the use of software. Sometimes that will be the case. Other process design will be based on people or machines. Here are some other opportunities for business process management:
- Sales process – how you will get people through the sales pipeline
- Event process – if you are creating an event, having a process in place will help things go much smoother
- Support process – how to efficiently solve your clients’ problems consistently
- Product/service delivery – how to deliver your set of solutions to your clients as efficiently as possible.
- Website design – how your clients will navigate your website in order to perform the desired activity.
…and the list goes on.
While simply getting things done is one reason for business process management, there are other compelling reasons business leadership should consider when weighing the value of business process management:
Businesses that don’t have well documented processes cannot scale. Many owners of growing companies are the business…which means they are the primary producer to get stuff done, and that if most of their time and energy (and perhaps a little bit of crazy!) isn’t spent getting stuff done, then it likely won’t get done. So, what happens as a result is that the business owner becomes a bottleneck to scaling.
Without having processes in place and tools for getting stuff done, it is difficult to train someone or people how to do the work consistently and efficiently. Think about the first person who is trained on how to prepare a recipe. If they have to train someone else, they might skip a step or add a step here or there. Then the third person may also have some alterations to what they think is the original story…and on and on until the result looks nothing like the original. This is exactly what happened in the movie “The Founder” when the McDonald brothers first attempted to scale the company.
Business process management enables you to go back, look at a process and see what needs to work differently. Without documenting it, you can’t always “see what’s broke” in order to fix it. You can look at a raw process (without resources attached to them) and reallocate the work and implement software or other tools to get the job done more efficiently. You can look at the total cost to include in your cost accounting. You can identify bottlenecks – where the process slows down – and determine how to adjust them.
What ain’t Workin’?
So “what ain’t working,” you ask? When a business owner starts a company, while there is the perception of freedom (freedom from a regular paycheck!), there is also the outcome…the end of the road. As owners and leaders begin to mature, they find the fervor that got them up every morning to “kill it” every day begins to wane. That fierceness and fight which got them to the top begins to go away. It’s not that they aren’t passionate about the work, per se, but rather, they finally realize “this ain’t working. There’s gotta be an easier way.”
…and there is. At every company we’ve worked with that wanted to level up, we’ve evaluated processes, from customer engagement to product development and delivery – and on and on – we’ve found ways to do things better and more efficient, and help the owner get out of the driver’s seat and into the captain’s chair. They’ve moved from doing to directing. Business process management helped make things work…predictably and consistently as long as the processes were being used.
Is it working at your company? How could documenting processes help your firm do things better? Do you see not having processes keeps your company from leveling up? What is stopping you from investing in your firm to build an extraordinary company?
Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations. We are the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Our entrepreneurial multidisciplinary team works with clients to develop differentiating solutions and provide direction focused on lasting, strategic results. We exist to help our clients CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses.
We would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts and comments below. If you are seeking advice on how to grow your business, streamline systems and processes, implement software or overcoming challenges to growth, please contact us, directly or submit a request for a complimentary Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD an Extraordinary Company.