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It's All About The Process

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The problem

Many businesses today function in a reactionary way. That is, they respond to the stimuli of the moment instead of planning how they will conduct their day, and working with the issues (stimuli) that comes up during the day within that planned framework.  As a result, they are very ineffective, because they are responding, instead of acting.  Here's a quick way to determine if an employee (or your whole company!) is responding instead of acting based on a plan:  Call an "organizational" meeting and outline some steps that you think everyone should take to organize what happens in your business. If the answer you get is a variation on "I don't have time to do all of that planning/organization!" you know you have a problem.

As an example, one company that we consult with has repeatedly expressed their frustration that they do not have enough time to deal with their e-mail load, much less the phone, web feedback and everything else that goes on in a day.  Our response is the same each and every time. Software will not solve your problems, only sitting down as a company and defining your processes will.  For example: A support call is a support call, there is a specific way to handle it that suits your company and handles all of your known variables.  We receive the answer: "we don't have time" or "but that won't handle (x)".  The truth is if they made the time to define a solid process that encapsulates all of the (x) variables they will have far more time and be far more effective because the process will handle the work and make them more efficient.  This is the catch-22 for most businesses. They don't have the time to define processes but it's the only way that they will ever get more efficient and reduce their stress.  To implement process you must first convince your staff that they have to MAKE time to become proactive if they want to make their lives easier.  And make no mistake, processes are involved in everything:

  1. From entering phone numbers in a consistent way in the company phone directory so that people can search on them to
  2. Larger things like how to handle a support call, to
  3. One of the most important parts of all business, the sales process.

The mistakes

The biggest mistake many businesses make is that they expect business management software is going to solve these issues.  If you purchase business management software to fix your issues without defining the process that the software is going to be used for, you will be disappointed: Software is a tool for implementing process, not a solution in and of itself.  Even paper can effectively be used to implement the process if necessary. What software is good for is streamlining the process. That is, taking out all of the drudgery of the process.  For instance, a good accounting software package such as Tradepoint Business Management Software will allow you to enter an invoice, and the G/L entries for that invoice will automatically be made, further the inventory adjustments that need to be done for that invoice will be made automatically and the inventory accounts in the G/L will be updated.  Having business management software that automates repetitive processes is a significant time saver over having to do all of that with paper.  More specifically, it eliminates steps that cause mistakes and thus speeds up the process twice: 1, while the job's being done and 2, when you're trying to fix all of the mistakes that were made.

The model

You'll notice that the most successful businesses in the world all have clearly defined processes that their staff MUST follow.  Car companies all have a sales process. This sales process is there for a reason. It ensures success because all of the other ways have been tried and this one works best.  That's not to say that something better won't come along, and always be prepared to change your process and be flexible, but the power of process is that ensures that the failures of trial and error do not happen, and that there is consistency throughout your organization.

If you or your company are interested in defining processes in your business and would like help defining the processes and/or implementing them in software, please contact me. We can help!

Defining your processes is the first step towards an efficient business. Once you have defined the processes the next step is to "processize" your day in the form of a daily work plan.  But that is an entire other article.

James Hancock

Darwin Productions Inc.

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