Systems can help you grow your company. But, that means you need to have processes that work for you. I knew many companies that have tried to succeed without systems. But, today, on the market exists only those who changed their mind about the implementation of systems. They are only 10%.
If you have systems in your small business, you will understand what activities are involved in operating the business. You will understand what needs to be done to support your business. Also, you will understand how activities are related to each other. You will know the responsibility for implementation and required resources. You can track everything to make improvements.
Today, I want to share a step-by-step guide on building systems in your company. And, that’s not all. If you start implementing the steps in this guide, you will know more about your business. As you know more about how things are working in your small business, you will see more opportunities to leverage more profits. This is the starting point to automate many things inside your company, giving you more resources for more important things.
Step #1: Analyze Your Company – What Works and What Doesn’t Work
You need to start with what you have at this moment and how your business work on a day-to-day basis. For example, start asking the following questions:
- What does my company do in order to produce the products and services for my customers?
- What does my company do in order to market the products and services that produce?
- Also, what does my company do in order to sell the products and services to my customers?
- What does my company do in order to manage finances?
- What other things my company does daily to enable normal operations?
As you can see from these questions, you can define several groups of possible systems:
- Production or value creation system,
- Marketing system,
- Sales system,
- Finance system, and
- Support systems.
While answering these questions, sketch the answers on a piece of paper or use tools like a Scapple (image below).
The next thing you will need to do is write on the sketch all processes you have identified through the answers to the questions. When you finish this, your sketch will look something like this.
After you have your sketch with the most critical systems and processes, you can continue with the analysis of the processes. It is time for the next series of questions you will need to answer:
- In which processes the results are continuously disappointing?
- Or, in which processes you are spending too much time to make things right?
- In which processes, mistakes are being made regularly?
- What do I need to do to improve the overall operations of my company making things to be more consistent?
Your sketch will look like something the following picture, but more complex with all processes you have earlier defined.
Step #2: Prioritize the Most Important Processes – What is Most Important For Your Business
Because you already have analyzed the processes, you can now easily list the most critical processes. These processes will become a focus of your work in the next steps of this tutorial.
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How can you prioritize the processes? You can quickly come to a dilemma because, as you already see, all processes are required to ensure your company’s normal operations.
Use the table shown in the image below for all identified processes and assign a number value in each row. The number represents the impact the process has on specific criteria. You can add a criterion that is important for your company. Assign a number between 0 if there is no impact and five if there is a significant impact.
The processes with the highest totals are the ones that would be the best to focus on as a first for building proper process management. In our case, production process #2 is the most critical process that we will focus on in the following steps.
Step #3: Create the Processes Maps – How the Process Visually Look
For this step, you can use Scapple or get a stack of index cards, a pen, or a marker and put them on a flat surface to work in front of. Take one most crucial process for your company from the previous step. Start writing the beginning step of the process on one card, then the final step, or result in another card.
Now, you will need to brainstorm the tasks that take place between these two steps. Write each task on a separate card. At this stage, don’t worry about the order. Just write down tasks as they come to your mind. Keep writing cards until you can’t think about any more steps that will need to be part of the process. Your process map at this stage will look like the following picture.
The next thing you will need to do is bring the order between the steps. Simple, create a picture of the process in chronological order. When you think about the chronological order of the steps, think about the possibility of grouping them if they are similar or can be grouped. In my experience, in many cases, you can group 30-40% of tasks or steps. After this, your map will look like the following picture.
Now, it is time to write down and insert any decision points inside your process map and connect the steps. The decision point follows the rule “if something happened, then you need to take a specific action.”
When you finish your process map, test the process in your company and confirm that it works how you want to work. The process must bring the results you want it.
Step #4: Systems Improvements – What Can Be Improved
This step is never-ending because you can always improve everything. The process you mapped on in the previous step can probably be improved. So, now you need to look at the map you created and answer these questions having in mind the analysis results from the first step of this guide:
- What do I need to do to spend less time in the execution of the process?
- What do I need to do to improve the quality and quantity of the results as outputs from the process?
- Or, what do I need to do to cut possible mistakes in the process?
- Where can the process be simplified?
- Can some steps be combined or eliminated?
- Does each step add value?
- Are there some bottlenecks that will need to be eliminated?
- Is there something that doesn’t add value and can be outsourced?
- How can I automate some or all the steps inside my process?
Answers to these questions will help you in adjusting the map.
You should do this step periodically for every process in your business. The outcome of this step will be necessary adjustments of the processes. In many situations, you may find that some processes become unnecessary, while new ones become more critical. So, you will continuously change your business according to the actual needs.