Operating your business without clear process is like trying to sail solo around the world without any navigation equipment. You might get there eventually but it’s unlikely you will take the most efficient route.
We come across this situation all too often – firms that seem to operate on “tribal instinct” where a few key members of the team just “make things happen”. Most battle through ok and somehow manage to make money, but at what cost?
When we dig deeper we find that activities are taking a long time to complete, the wrong staff are involved, there are errors and mistakes and work is being checked and double checked. It all adds up to wasted effort and poorer business outcomes. It’s not hard to predict the impact on the bottom line.
WHY TAME THE TRIBE?
If your company is making money without any processes, then you might ask why bother investing time, money and effort in creating them?
Drawing on my experience helping companies improve their operational efficiency, I’ve come up with my top five reasons why you might like to gather all of the ‘tribal knowledge’ floating around your office and turn it into clear, well documented processes.
Reason #1: Save time, make more money
Everyone knows that time is money so it’s a no brainer that if you can speed things up you will notice an improvement to your bottom line. Let’s say, for example, that producing an annual report for a client takes two hours and involves the input of three staff. By refining the process and supporting it with technology, you might be able to cut the time to 45 minutes and transfer the majority of the work to a lower-level team member. In doing so, you’ve created more time for your staff to focus their energy on higher-value, more profitable activities.
Reason #2: Put your best foot forward
Time and time again we see that companies without process invariably deliver a lower level of customer service than their peers and have a poorer professional image. Turnaround times are slower, there are more mistakes and the client often ends up dealing with the wrong member of staff. This can all add up to a very frustrating and dissatisfying customer experience.
Reason #3: Transparency is a manager’s best friend
Every good business manager wants to achieve the best possible results with the resources available to them. Sound processes give management a blueprint for who does what, how they do it, when they do it and how long it takes. With this level of transparency, management can pinpoint inefficiencies and bottlenecks, reassign staff and identify opportunities for improvement with much greater precision.
Reason #4: Staff can (and do) leave
It’s an unavoidable reality that sometimes your best and brightest just up and leave. And as they walk out the door they take volumes and volumes of critical business knowledge with them. Capturing this knowledge, which is often organically built over time, and structuring it into a documented process protects your operations. It has the added benefit of enabling you to integrate new staff much more quickly.
Reason #5: A possibly dull but nonetheless important note to finish on – compliance
No matter what industry you are in, there will be laws and regulations with which you have to comply. Comprehensive business processes that are supported by clear documentation and data help keep track of your obligations and avoid the risks associated with non-compliance.
A WORD OF WARNING…
The benefits of process are huge but not any old process will do. A poorly configured process or one that doesn’t properly match the objectives of the organisation will only create wasted effort. For tips on how to get the most from your process, check out our next post on ‘What make a good process good’.