Over the past two months I have had the privilege to attend some great workshops and seminars. I love learning new things and finding new ways of accomplishing results faster. Each time I attend an event I walk away with at least one great tip I can share with my clients.
I know I have written about systems before, but I couldn’t resist sharing some new insights on why I stand behind the strong belief that systems make your business work better.
What do I mean by systems?
A system is the process you take to complete a task to obtain the right result, consistently and efficiently. A good system identifies the steps you take, the resources (time, money, equipment, skill) you need and the outcome desired.
As a business owner or manager, it is important to clearly establish the systems that are needed so that the actions taken by yourself or your team are consistently moving your business toward its strategic and operational goals. In addition the steps you take must reflect the needs of your customers, fit your team’s skill, and effectively utilize your team’s skill, the time available and the company’s money or other resources.
Three steps to creating good systems.
1. Record as you go
One of the easiest and fastest ways to create a system is to record the steps you take as you complete different tasks. These procedures will allow you to repeat the same steps time after time. They will also allow you to delegate these tasks to others and speed up training.
If trying to write it all down is too time consuming, consider taping yourself as you go through the steps and having an assistant type it up for you. I have also asked employees to assist me in recording the steps for their own job. Who better to ensure its right than the person who does that task every day!
2. Can technology save time, money or improve outcomes?
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is leaving manual systems in place too long, or failing to consider technological options that are on the market today. Cost of purchasing, training and a lack of knowledge of how software will really make a difference are the most common reasons but they could be costing you and your business profits!
One company I worked with had a very old, yet (in their mind) functional computer. Three times in the prior six months it experienced down time. These breakdowns caused a loss of data (which had to be reentered by staff), slowed response time to customers (staff didn’t have access to the information they needed nor did they have access to the database which allowed them to process customer payments. On top of the down time, a computer specialist to retrieve lost data and troubleshoot the problems. All of this was inconvenient, not good for productivity, customer service or for cash flow! In my estimation they lost almost twice as much as the cost of a new computer.
Identifying new technology options that will integrate with existing systems is vital, unless the data can be easily transitioned. In small businesses, accounting software and integrated customer management/e-commerce systems are two priorities you should consider to save time, improve customer support and improve profits. The monthly outlay can be quickly recouped.
3. Review Regularly
Embracing continuous quality improvement is an imperative when you want to be a leader. Every good system must integrate a review process on a regular basis. A review allows you to determine if the process that is in place is still working, whether it is meeting the needs of the business and is efficient and productively aligns with your strategic and operational goals.
As part of the review process, obtain feedback from your coach, mentor, partner, employees or other sources to understand what options exist which would improve profitability, save time and other resources or achieve better outcomes. External input is invaluable, as is basic observation!
Are you struggling with your business? Are systems non-existent or ineffective? I’d love to connect with you to delve deeper and explore options and how I could help you!