In any business, it is critical that tasks are performed in a consistent and timely manor. To accomplish this, work processes should be put in place to be followed for each area of your business.
A work process is made up of a series of steps/tasks/activities and has a beginning and an end. In business, everything is a process – hiring process, order taking process, product/service delivery process, etc. They start with input (materials or information), and by a series of steps/tasks, you produce a product or service.
As your business evolves, it is necessary to update and improve processes to meet the growing demands of your current situation.
First understand, before you change
If you want to improve your processes, it is best to get a complete understanding of what you are currently doing. Start by documenting or mapping your processes. Bring together the people who know exactly what the steps of each process are, and document them. One effective way to do this is to use sticky notes on the wall or a board. On each sticky note, write out each individual task required for each process. Place the sticky notes on the wall or board and move them around until you are satisfied that you have documented each of the current steps. The advantage of using sticky notes is that you can move them around until you are satisfied that you have the correct steps in the correct order. Then draw it up… type out the process into a document, create a process chart in PowerPoint… you could even go so far as to use software programs like Visio.
Improving the Process
Now that you have a complete understanding of the “As Is,” you can work on the “Should Be.” Brainstorm with your group. This is where you want to utilize the experience of your team to determine what can be changed and improved. Remember to document who will be responsible for executing each step of the process and the time frame each step is to be completed in. This is a great opportunity for you, as the business owner, to look at each task and determine if it is something you still need to perform or if some (or all) tasks could be delegated to others. Once you have agreed on the best changes and improvements, record it and be sure to communicate the new process to everyone on your team.
With your new streamlined processes, the improved productivity will show up in your bottom line.