Establishing and running a successful business takes a lot of work. But it is the very core of your business and the way it operates that will determine its future. Systemising your business with a well-written set of processes is essential to get your organisation in a position to scale.
The business systems and processes that control how the business operates need to be unlocked from inside the heads of the business owner and the team. These systems and processes become the focal reference point for how the business should be run so that the result is consistent.
If your business processes are documented, your team will know how to deliver your service to customers and how they keep those customers coming back.
Creating a systems manual from scratch can be a daunting task. If you’re sitting staring at a blank page wondering where to start, before you write a single process, you’ll want to read and apply the 10 step checklist to ensure you write business processes that guarantee success.
1. Start with a solid foundation
The key to writing effective business systems relies heavily on your understanding of your own business. Before you start jotting down how you want your business to run, it is important to document all the basic information about your business. This includes things like who your customers are, where you are located, how customers and suppliers can contact you and your operating hours.
2. Identify who the processes and procedures are for
Once you have a strong understanding of your business, the next step is to identify who the processes and systems will apply to. As a business owner, you know your company inside and out. When it comes to writing your business processes, the language you choose and the level of detail is crucial to ensuring that everyone understands them. Overcomplicating your documentation will result in your team not following the processes. The absolute best way to ensure the processes get followed is to get your team involved in writing up their own processes and procedures themselves.
3. Make a list of all current processes and procedures
Before you start writing a set of new business processes, make a list of your current systems. Start by breaking it down into each department within your organisation then identify the process owners and delegate the writing of the procedures.
4. Don’t waste time on design and formatting
It is easy to get sidetracked with making your documents look like a work of art. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Spend more time writing a solid business process and less time on choosing the right font and layout. You can always tidy up your documents later but getting something written even if it’s a draft means that you can start to use the process immediately.
5. Document the structure of the new process or procedure
A great way to guarantee you include all the important details of each business process is to use a “step by step” format. Using dot points or a numbering system when outlining each process step makes the information easy to read and understand. Each business process should include information such as who will be involved and their role in the process, how it works, the input and output and what area of the business it effects.
6. Chose the best method to capture the process
When we refer to documentation in the process world what we are really referring to is capturing or recording the process or procedure in some way. Documentation can come in many different forms including a written process in MS Word or Google Doc, a screen recording, an audio script or a checklist. From your list of processes that you have identified, decide the best way to capture the steps. Consider who the process is for, how the process will be accessed and the quickest and simplest way to capture the process. In some cases, a checklist will be easier to follow than a set of detailed instructions. A video might be a good idea but can a driver access it from a mobile location without an internet connection?
7. Get Feedback from your team
A business isn’t a one man or woman operation, and it takes many hands to create success. Your team are the ones who will be using your business processes, and their input on these is invaluable. Whoever writes the processes and procedures should get another set of eyes not only to review the process but also test them out. A process will often go through a series of iterations until you get it right.
8. Improve the process as you document
When you start to write a process, you are forced to think about the way you currently do things. This creative process can highlight inefficiencies such as time wasting and unnecessary steps. Drafting processes is a great opportunity to examine how you operate and make incremental improvements. You’ll also be surprised how many innovative ideas you can have when you take the time to think about it.
9. Handoff the process and test it
Now that you have spent the time developing a strong understanding of your business, documenting your processes and procedures and ensuring your staff are aware of the changes, it is time to implement. Documented processes and procedures mean nothing if they aren’t used. After the process owner has tested the process, have someone else who is not familiar with the process to follow the steps. That way you can tell if someone with less experience and expertise can complete the process.
10. Get Professional help
There is no denying that writing business process and procedures takes time, and let’s be honest to make a go of it; you’ve gotta like doing it. If the thought of documenting sounds scaring and overwhelming and are thinking that you would be best leaving the task to others more competent than yourself, then the best advice that I can give you is to get some help. At Organising Works, we love helping businesses to create, improve and document their processes. We get busy writing the processes for you; it’s one of the things we do best and can get your team involved and trained in the process for documenting processes.
Often the business owner is not the best person to write the systems. Without losing any control, we’re able to drive the process of systemisation and get your team involved and being accountable for their own processes, all with our full support.
Whether you get help with your process writing or dive into it yourself, use our 10 Step Checklist for Successful Business Process Documentation as your guide. Following this guide will ensure that you’ll start with a plan and have a high probability that your documentation will get followed and make a positive impact on the business.
If systemising your business is on your roadmap to growth, let’s have a chat about the best way to go about it and how you can free up time and have the business running smoothly with or without you.