From my time in the military there is one thing that has stuck with me that many small businesses can implement to become more efficient and that isn’t the ability to do a bunch of push-ups. This key ingredient is knowing (and all your team knowing) your processes and standards.
Over the last 100 years the military has developed and refined their SOP’s or standard operating procedures so that there is clear guidance on exactly what is expected of each and every soldier right from their job description, weapons, and formations all the way to exactly how many centimetres apart different badges need to be on their dress uniform for parade. Every soldier is drilled in each of these SOP’s so that it becomes second nature in the heat of battle when control may be lost and instinct takes over. It also provides for when one process ends and another begins.
Now I’m not suggesting that small businesses need to be as thorough or regimented as the military but there are key take aways from this approach that can make your business more efficient and thus more successful.
The key part of having documented processes is so that everyone involved knows how they fit into the business cycle from client acquisition and product delivery to marketing and accounting. More than likely, in a small team, there are team members that satisfy more than one role but in order to have efficiency they need to know at which point of the cycle they are performing each role and when the trigger takes place to change roles.
As an example, you may have a team member that is employed as an admin assistant. Now that role could involve a number of tasks including ringing potential leads, opening mail, talking to suppliers and doing the banking. Each of these tasks has a different hat and trigger point and will affect the efficiency of the business cycle. By documenting the process by which this admin assistant is expected to complete each task it sets expectation and there will less time lost on the transition from one task to the next.
The second take away from having detailed standards is having a quality to your product or service. The standards create an inherent consistency by which your business will be known. Consider a café and a typical flat white. The amount of coffee in the handle, the amount of milk, and the temperature are all potential variables that will affect the finished product. By detailing the standard on each of these you will have consistent and a good tasting coffee that will bring customers back to your product.
The final point to make in regards to designing a process flow is the ability to distance yourself from the day to day operations of your business. This then gives you, the owner, time to grow the business and ultimately put the business in a position to sell. The benefit of the documented processes will provide potential purchasers of your business more detail of the business model and more insights that they can see during due diligence.
If you want to unlock the benefits of processes and standards and ultimately your workflow email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call one of our Traveller Guides on 1300 866 679.