Business processes play a vital role in the proper functioning of a successful business by reducing expenditures, improving efficiency, motivating employees and ultimately helping you focus more on your customers. No matter how good your sales and marketing are, if your processes aren’t up to the task, there’s a good chance you’ll let your customers down.
If you’ve been so busy working the work this year (and haven’t we all!), there’s probably room for improvement or refinement. You can grow yourself out of business, or into debt, if you don’t have sound processes, not to mention the impact on customer service and reputation. Fortunately, you can take a deep breath, because there’s still time to tweak how work gets done in your business before the end of the year. Here’s a suggested approach:
- Identify your current processes. Identify the 8-10 processes that play a key role in your revenue and profitability. If you already have processes, note which have the greatest impact and focus on those.
- Collect feedback from stakeholders. This includes owners, investors, employees, and customers. Ask why the problems exist and how to resolve them – employees often have ideas for improvement, but don’t feel empowered to make suggestions. Talking to customers will also give you great insight into where you’re going wrong, and what you’re doing well.
- Develop new processes and refine the existing ones. Now comes the improvement piece! Write down (or have the team member responsible do it) the big-picture steps for making something happen. Take the process through the desired result (an accounts receivable process should continue through payment being received, for example) and any measures that demonstrate success. Be sure to share these with the team members involved in the steps.
- Consider outsourcing. You may not be able to do it all yourself, and that’s okay. There are many professional businesses that can help. Can you hire a call center to keep up with customer inquiries and help increase profits? Will a recruiting agency help you fill open positions more quickly? Can a part-time bookkeeper get the accounting done faster? Can your marketing team help pre-qualify incoming leads? Try to match the best person/team for the results you want from each process.
You’ll find that when you finally make time for improvements, working the work gets a whole lot better, and so do profits.