Some people are process-oriented by nature, while others cringe at the mentioning of the word. Regardless of where you stand in this debate, here’s some advice from one business owner to another:
“Never underestimate the value created from consistency and excellence through proper organizational processes and training.” — Jason Dailey, Founder and CEO of Brandography
In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s essential to have a process-driven approach. By implementing structured and organized procedures, businesses can improve their efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
But how do you know if your process is working, falling short of expectations, or in need of fine-tuning?
Evaluating Your Process
From the extreme of a process-driven assembly line to the risk mitigation of process-oriented quality assurance, processes come in many forms and have uncountable applications and value.
However, like any tool, you can only elevate its use with proper thought and discipline, or it will likely be ineffective and costly.
We recently sat down with Jason Dailey for advice on how to effectively evaluate your organizational process for success.
What’s the best way to evaluate current processes?
Jason: The first step is identifying how many processes you already own, as it’s common for businesses to have more than necessary. A simple way to figure this out is to do the following:
- First, open your Google Drive, Dropbox, or server and perform a search for the word “process.”
- Then, count how many results came up. Is it 5, 10, 20, or maybe even more?
- Now, ask yourself:
- How many of these processes are currently in use?
- How much time went into creating them?
- What issues were they trying to solve, and do those issues persist?
- Are there any processes you put into place that do work?
By answering these simple questions upfront, you can immediately identify what’s working, what’s not, and what needs further developing.
What happens if you discover there are too many processes? Or the ones in practice don’t produce the best results?
Jason: Your next move is to revise your current processes using the following guidelines:
Keep It Simple
What I mean is keep it concise and memorable. Ensure process outlines are no more than 1 page, if possible. Think of your audience. Are they more inclined to read a 12-page document that drags on or a one-pager that highlights your key points?
This brings me to another point. You don’t want to overcomplicate your process. Strict rules and step-by-step instructions might sound helpful. But, in reality, it prevents creative problem-solving.
Process should empower your team, not bind them to unrealistic expectations (more on this later.)
Keep It Focused
Ensure it’s understandable and doesn’t require further explanation (i.e., team meetings, one-on-ones, etc.). Additionally, be sure to assign an author to each process—someone responsible for owning it, implementing it, keeping it updated, and understanding its purpose (i.e., the type of issues it aims to solve).
Remember, having a straightforward process can help reduce misunderstandings and conflicts, as everyone knows what is expected of them and their role in the process.
Keep It Special
Avoid overproducing processes. If you have too many, they will never get used. Instead, try to limit one document per department or one per operational function.
Implementing Your Process
Once you’ve evaluated and revised your current processes, the next step is creating buy-in and alignment with the entire team.
After all, your process will only be successful if the team agrees and understands how to use it, when to use it, and when not to use it.
Next, you’ll need to organize your processes to ensure they’re easily accessible to everyone. Translation: “don’t bury them in your server.”
Here are a few pitfalls to avoid during the implementation phase:
- Refrain from using processes to solve mundane problems. Those issues fall under different categories, such as: training, proper staff ownership, and communication.
- Don’t jump to a process at the first sign of a need. See if that issue reoccurs. If so, consider if it would benefit from an existing process or if it requires its own.
- Remember, process does not solve “people issues.” Therefore, refrain from letting this be a cop-out for lack of training or a need for clear communication.
Elevating Your Process
Allow your process to be flexible by avoiding overly specific procedures or detailed checklists. This often decreases creativity and pragmatic thought. Therefore, be cautious of their use and implement them appropriately.
For example, checklists are great for staying on schedule and keeping different departments on task, but they leave little-to-no room for flexibility or changes in scope. They can also lead to confusion if certain items need to be reorganized or removed entirely due to unexpected changes or delays.
“Don’t let process outweigh purpose,” said Jason Dailey. “Process should be flexible enough to adapt to different scenarios but still grounded so that your team has clear instructions (and expectations) for completing an operation or troubleshooting a problem.”
It’s fair to say there’s a delicate balance, but one that proves profitable when done correctly.
Is Process Helping or Hurting Your Operations?
Having a clear and defined organizational process ensures that every employee follows the same steps and produces the same results.
This consistency improves the quality of your products or services and helps build trust with your customers and clients. Additionally, it can reduce the risk of errors or mistakes, saving your business time and money in the long run.