Systems and Processes: the nuts and bolts


Two months ago I wrote an article Three Pillars of Sustainable Business Growth and just over a week ago I reflected on this and dug a little deeper into what constitutes further the third pillar – A Winning Mindset.

The original idea and purpose was to describe my thoughts on sustaining business growth and why the structure for this rests on three foundations. The second pillar in my three pillars is about systems and processes, and the policies and procedures. This is what will ensure consistency, efficiency, customer service, quality, compliance and – crucially – continual improvement in your business. When it comes to sustaining business these are all critical.

We can all acknowledge that to grow your business one needs to provide a high level of customer service and satisfaction. Having a set procedure for any customer interactions ensures this. With the right systems and processes in place, you can enforce and ensure that all quality standards are being met – and where they’re not, you manage the process.

So what are systems and processes?

A process is essentially a working instruction in order to achieve a particular task/outcome. To get a good idea, think of a chef cooking something. The recipe they use is their process; it tells them the ingredients they need, the order of mixing, the temperature to cook it at. It’s essentially a step by step guide how to achieve their outcome.

When these processes are used together consistently across your business, that’s when they become a system – more specifically, your business’ system.

Why are systems useful for my business?

In any business there are key procedures that form the bedrock of your business. As we said, in order to sustain your business and its growth, you need to be able to provide and maintain an excellent customer service. In addition to that, you must also ensure quality and manage your compliance in order to reduce risks to the business.

Having an effective system is the easiest and best way to ensure that the work you produce is the best it can be. Why? Because having an orderly system allows you to achieve the following things:

  •  Clarity –Having a routine system of processes means your workflow is transparent, easy to follow, and expected. This minimalises the risk of confusion and mistakes, not only from an individual perspective, but team-wide where a system is properly implemented.
  • Cultivation –Going through the motions is never a good way of trying to achieve great results, because complacency is often a slippery road down to neglect. Having a clear set of processes to make up your system allows you to analyse each step in its own right and develop the areas that need improvement. I mentioned this in my earlier post when talking about the steps Appraise, Amend, Approve, and Apply. Appraising your system identifies any pitfalls. This should be followed with making amendsto your process where necessary and then approving it through testing. The final step in cultivating a great system is to apply the changes, ensuring the best system you can. Cultivating your system is the best way to achieve our next step, which is…
  • Consistency – And not just consistency, but consistently great results. A routine way of doing things (and doing them well) means you’ll achieve routinely good results. Simple really, but oh-so important.

What systems can I use and how do I use them?

That depends on a multitude of factors, including your business, your goals, and what type of tasks you’re doing on a daily basis. However, some widely applicable and key examples might be: a diary of issues, a CRM database, phone scripts, or timesheets.

How would you use some of these, and why? Let’s take a look at one example.

One of the processes for a CRM databasemight look something like this:

  • Input lead > make contact > record interaction and result > refer to information when needed > repeat

When this is implemented as an effective system, your whole team will input, use, and refer to the information over an extended period of time. Why is this a good thing? Emails are decentralized and in some respects, fairly transient. A CRM database not only shares the information so that it’s available to the whole team, but saves it somewhere permanent and widely accessible. This will help you achieve quality customer service which, crucially, is consistent across your team.

Hopefully this simple example illustrates how if you have the right systems in place for vital elements such as HR and health & safety, and you review them to suit your needs, it can positively impact the results you get from everyday actions. Systems and processes protect and reduce your exposure to risk and thereby allows your business to grow.

As always, I want to hear what you think! Leave a comment below, or tweet me at @SafarazAli

✪ Business Networking Group Founder ✪ SFA Prime Contractor & building a consortia ✪ Supporting businesses with growth

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