BSS #004: Process is the glue

This week’s tip: The processes in your business are the glue that holds everything together.

Let’s face it, technology comes and goes, but process is here to stay.

That’s why process becomes the glue that holds it all together.

It keeps your operation running like a well-oiled machine.

Or maybe a rusty one if you’re processes could use a little maintenance!

Today I want to focus on how to create, document, and improve your business processes.

Business processes are simply the steps that need to be taken in order to complete a task or achieve a goal.

For example, if you’re trying to ship a product to a customer, there’s a process that needs to be followed in order to get that product from your warehouse to their doorstep.

That process might involve picking the product from inventory, packing it into a box, printing a shipping label, and putting it on the truck.

By having a defined process for shipping products, you can optimize each step to make it as efficient as possible.

When your processes are efficient, your entire operation runs more smoothly.

Most people believe they have to create processes from scratch.

The reality is you just need to document what you’re doing today and then improve on that process by making changes in the future.

Doing these 2 things sets you up with a very simple continuous improvement cycle and it’s the absolute best way to get started creating systems for your business.

Remember, business systems are just a series of processes that may or may not include technology to automate and/or error proof processes.

Back to documenting processes…

I like to break it down into a 5-step process (see what I did there) 😊:

  1. What processes need to be documented?
    1. If this seems impossible, just go about your daily routine and document what processes you’re currently executing and start there. You can do the same thing for your team.
  2. Start to organize
    1. Everyone needs to understand where each process lives and is executed. I like to use tags to identify departments, work centers, areas of responsibility, or whatever else makes sense for your organization.
  3. Do the documentation
    1. I recommend to video process documentation and then supplement those videos with written documentation that contains diagrams, pictures, and examples to reinforce specific parts of the process.
  4. Make everything accessible
    1. Most people don’t use existing process documentation. When you can’t QUICKLY find the reference you need, you’re more apt to figure it out on the fly. That leads to increased errors and reduced efficiency. One of my favorite free SAAS tools to use for this is Airtable. Any type of existing on-premises database technology will work in the same way.
  5. Audit for consistency
    1. The goal here is to understand how your processes are working and if they are being executed consistently. This is a great way to allow your team to identify and communicate process gaps that could lead to a negative customer experience or a host of other less favorable events.

After you’ve documented your processes, you can now start to identify opportunities for improvement. The best way to get started with this is by engaging the people closest to and also near the process that’s being examined for improvement.

Action Step: Look around your organization to see what kind of process documentation you currently have in place. Engage your team to find out if they know where documentation is available and how often they reference it. Once you have a feel for that, review any errors that you’ve seen within the last 90 – 180 days. Take the 2 most common issues to create new process documentation using the steps above. Once that’s done, engage your team to solicit process improvement ideas that have the potential to eliminate the errors you identified.

If you get stuck, send me a message and I’ll help you work through it. No charge. I want you to witness the power of process firsthand.

That’s all for today.

See you again next week.

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