S.M.A.R.T. Systems Will Set You Free
Essential to creating freedom in your business is the documentation of all of your processes and systems, and compiling them in an operations guide available to your support team. From customer service, answering the telephone, emails, product fulfillment, accounting and collections, membership programs… EVERYTHING should be documented. The amount of detail will vary depending on your specific business and already documented references from on line help and training sources.
You might think that this process will be painful and daunting; however, it doesn’t have to be. Using templates for standardization, your existing staff and starting sooner than later will ease that misconception.
Why is the formalization of systems so important? There are many reasons such as:
- Standardization of routine business tasks. For example, you know that customer service will always be handled the same way and within your acceptable timeframe.
- Questions regarding routine tasks from your staff will stop… allowing you more focused time to work on your business.
- If a staff member is replaced, out sick, or fails to be available, another staff member (or you) can pick up the slack.
- Training of new staff is eased.
- You can control the culture of your business without being physically present.
- You can take days off or a much needed vacation and your business will continue to run on auto pilot.
You might be wondering… OK, so I create systems and an operation guide BUT… things change. Yes, systems change; they are also added and deleted routinely. That’s the beauty and nature of the beast. Your staff will often share better ways to do things. If it makes sense, let them constantly update and change systems as necessary.
What are systems and processes?
A system is a set of processes or tasks that are related to the successful completion of a specific activity within your business which are different from other activities.
Most systems share common characteristics, including:
- Systems have structure, defined by the sub-components or tasks.
- Systems have desired outcome and standardization of that activity.
- Systems have interconnectivity: the various parts or processes of a system have functional as well as a structural relationship to each other.
- Systems may have some functions or groups of functions.
A process is each activity or task within a system that produces a specific service or outcome.
The diagram below illustrates this concept. The sum of all parts results in your operations manual or staff guide.
The wonderful thing about having your systems designed with S.M.A.R.T. principles is that the tasks are specific, a time frame is determined and a responsible party is identified. S.M.A.R.T. allows you to quickly and easily follow up and hold accountability.
The next step in the process is to combine all of your systems into an Operations Guide, Manual, or Book. Call it what you will.
Your business Operations Guide should be made available to all staff and multiple backup files kept in a safe place. As one of your systems that you create… consider a system for routinely updating your Operations Guide. Remember that as systems improve and some are removed and obsolete, you must define a routine and specific time for the guide to be updated.
For more information about getting your Systems and Processes done click below. There are tools templates to help you.