I love to help a business improve its processes. I know it may not sound too exciting, but it’s fun and really helps build a cohesive team.
I’ve been helping one of my clients speed-up and improve the monthly close process, implement a 13-week cash flow process to help predict cash flow, prepare the 2HYBP, and document their core business and operating processes.
Many small companies never do this, but it really makes a difference in your company’s performance.
Core processes generally revolve around
- How you generate leads/create clients (Sales/Marketing)
- How you serve your clients (Operations)
- How you support your operations (Human Resources)
- How you measure and report on what gets done (Accounting)
Once you understand this, take it a step further and document your unique processes. Here’s why:
Four Reasons to Document Your Processes
- To improve the process (by definition)
- To help with training
- To expand company-wide knowledge
- To provide consistency for all stakeholders: employees, customers, and vendors
I use a simple formula:
- Identify the core processes
- Determine who is accountable for the process
- Get the primary process users together (core processes must be followed by everyone involved)
- Understand exactly what each process is trying to do, identify outputs and measurements
- Flow chart the current state visually, indicating how things work TODAY; if this, then x; if that, then y
- Try to simplify and determined improvement changes
- Produce a standard document with the process name, scope, expected outcome, parties involved, expected outputs, measurements, and any deviations
- Separately document improvement opportunities
- Review and test
Documenting and simplifying core processes allow businesses to create a self-sustaining organization that will run smoothly and provide a great customer experience.
With this client, we documented the sales process first. Most business starts with sales, so this made sense. We discussed sales attitude, the greeting, the value of using a headset so the sales reps’ hands are free, and noted any sales objections. We streamlined a related customer service process: what happens with returns, credits, complaints, etc. The end result created a consistent, streamlined and efficient process for the company and a consistent and efficient process for the customer. A bonus? An excellent training guide for new sales reps.
A well documented and tested process can dramatically help with a customer’s overall experience, and also keep activities consistent and efficient for employees. This was life-changing for this sales team. While being flexible, it provided a consistent and efficient repeatable process.
Once you have all the main processes documented, you have an operations manual. (To keep it current, you should have a process to review each process yearly!)
What process will you document today?