Systems and Processes is one area that lags behind the other important issues for your small business. In many cases there are just things the small business owners lacks such as knowledge, time and help when it comes down to putting these in place. There is another reason why small business owners don't have systems and processes put in place for their business. The ultimate reason is that business owners don't think they need to do it. I am going to touch on some of the key reasons that your small business needs systems and processes.
I hate to use the analogy of a house because it is overused but I can't think of a better one so I am apologizing in advance. When you are building a house, you don't decide to make the foundation for the home out of wood with the intent of going back later and making the foundation out of concrete when you feel it is necessary. This is the same issue that business owners have with their business. They want to build a foundation for their business after the rest of the business is already built. The problem is that there is already a house built on the loose foundation that you have and going back to fortify it will be tricky.
To explain some of the hows and whys of putting together systems and processes for your small business I turn to the Process Ninja who was recently on BNET talking about why processes are important and a few things to consider when creating them.
The reality is that all small businesses need systems and processes and The Process Ninja, Craig Reid gives 3 important things to consider when you are putting them in place for your business.
- Keep the customer experience in mind. This is obviously an important point but when you are creating systems and processes for your business, it's easy to forget about the customer and to place your focus squarely on you and your business. So as you are creating your business structure make sure that all roads lead to creating the very best customer experience possible.
- Think about the break points. All systems and processes have areas where human interaction is required to help the process along. Make sure that you consider all of the areas where the system can break down and try to automate as much of this process as you can. If you can't eliminate them, at least make sure that you are managing these areas.
- The business rules. This is any part of the business process where decisions are made. It's important to make sure that business doesn't slow down during these decision processes.
Another important point to consider with systems is to make sure that your systems and processes happen sooner than later and that they reflect your business with regards to how it will look in the future. The other thing about systems and processes is that you can be creative with some of the tools that you use to get your team engaged. In Chip and Dan Heath's column in Fast Company (December '09) they talk about how BearingPoint improved their ethics and compliance training through a little creativity. This new process set the stage for employees to be more engaged in the compliance process and were more apt to discuss gray areas of the business.
When it comes to systems and processes, the key is to start working on them now don't wait until your company is established to do this. It's hard to break habits and put constraints on areas of your business that were previously unconstrained. Systems and processes also allow you to create a better experience for your clients as well as for the team who work for your company.
What are your thoughts on systems and processes? Why do you think that small businesses don't engage in putting them together?