Sometimes it can be an uphill struggle to get owners of growing businesses to understand the need for sturdy & documented business processes to not only help when things need to get done but also when things go wrong and need to be corrected.
The definition of the word “process” according to the Cambridge dictionary is “a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result”. A business process is a group of activities that convert inputs to outputs by using an organisation’s resources. A breakdown somewhere in the process can have serious implication for a business.
For example: You can purchase a great product from a company that you love to use, but if the customer support from the company was poor, you would be reluctant to buy again from them. The company concerned are then always struggling to find new customers rather than nurture the ones they have. Effort and money are likely to be put to the marketing and sales activities without addressing the real issue of support. Process implementation and improvement can then result in direct savings but also improves the image of the business in the customers’ eyes. That can lead to recommendations, referrals and repeat business.
If you focus on growth as a goal and that’s all you want to do, then you’ll probably be changing your business processes and systems to cope with it. It becomes easy to cut corners to push that growth through, but there are not steps in place to make sure it is effective and efficient, and the back office processes can cope with the growth. Rapid growth can lead to great PR and with companies riding that wave, they fail to look internally to see what rot may be setting in. Throwing people at a system & process issue does not solve the problem, just covers it up and then just gets bigger over time as the business grows.
There are several symptoms of inefficient business processes and implementation:
- Lack of standard processes to address business requirements and improvements needed;
- Business expectations may be unmet;
- Poorly implemented business processes can result in a lack of effective training to new employees or subcontractors and therefore leads to longer time for staff to be useful to the business;
- Challenges faced may be dealt with in different ways rather than in an agreed pre-defined method;
- The organisation becomes very reactive and developing processes on the fly to deal with issues faced with there and then, rather than creating proactive processes to deal with issues before they come about;
- No method of continuous process improvement to maintain business needs. Often they are set in stone but never reviewed months/years down the road.
There is a soft metric of poor processes, and that is the one of staff morale. A poor process can really zap the energy of your people as when they are energised and engaged, they feel that there is nothing they can’t do. If they are disengaged, then everything that needs to be done will be a struggle, and that leads to high staff turnover. It may be customer service systems as talked about before, or simple things like the time taken to pay an employee’s expenses. If they feel like they have to fight to get their money, they are less likely to incur future cost and a feeling of resentment kicks it. It will not be a productive place to work.
Clunky, ineffective processes frustrate your employees & customers and gives the impression you really don’t care about them.
Sometimes it’s all about flow and things just work:
- A team firing on all cylinders
- Where people, processes and technology all seem to slip into place and make everything seem effortless
What has to be remembered is that when a process is designed around people that use it, or are affected by it, then it’s more likely to achieve flow for the business. Having it designed round a whiteboard by people who have no direct input to the process, then it’s likely to fail.
There are three interrupters to flow:
- Too many steps in the process;
- Too much manual intervention or too much paper;
- Major bottlenecks & delays;
- Recurring errors;
- End user frustration;
- Customer or stakeholder complaints.
Noise: – often known as data overload
- Slow decision making that often comes too late;
- Inaccurate decisions based on bad data;
- Complex reports that people can’t understand therefore don’t use;
- Excessive meetings interrupting the day;
- Data silos
- Lack of visibility into critical factors;
- Unable to take a holistic view and join the dots.
Drag: – This is the dead weight
- Managers spend too little time on critical tasks
- Admin costs spiral
- Performance suffers in important but non-core areas of the business
- Bottlenecks slowing the processes
- Experts spending time on housekeeping tasks
Time and resource is needed in a business to document out what is supposed to happen for its key processes and to try and mitigate the flow interrupters. We will be holding a webinar that covers what a business can do to start the documentation process and buy in in order to help the business get on an even keel with happy staff and with the aim for growth. Contact Louise for further details.
Business Process Expert at Performance Process
Tel: 01344 834258
Email: [email protected]