Businesses that are made up of efficient, working systems are far more likely to succeed than those that aren’t. No…let me re-phrase that – businesses that do not have key systems and processes in place will struggle. It really is that simple.
In this post, I outline, in no particular order, 7 reasons why your business will be far better and stronger for being systemised.
1. Get Back Time
Effectively managing our time is one of our biggest challenges. Efficient systems can give you (and your people) so much of it back.
Systems, broken down into processes, can handle much of the mechanical tasks that take time away from the more important, revenue-generating work.
Take my blog for example, I write the content, which normally takes me around 3 to 5 hours and I have a system in place that gets it published and disseminated to your inbox and on social media sites. Tools that automate processes, like Mailchimp and Hootsuite are vital components in making this process as efficient as possible.
That means I can focus on the content that I create and deliver and not on the mechanics of getting that content in front of people.
As it’s one of the fundamental building blocks of a solid business foundation, I help companies systemise their business better. In doing so the business owner people find they have more precious time as the mechanics of what they need to do becomes more automated.
For example, I helped a person in a business save 4 working days each month on working out payroll for the 250 staff that worked shift patterns. By systemising the way rotas were generated and by automatically calculating the hours people worked, this customer went from manually working out the hours each member of staff worked each month (and whether they were, days, nights, weekends, bank holidays, etc.) to simply downloading the results to the payroll system at the end of the month.
This gave her back enough time to better manage her administration team and the handling of things like purchases, invoices and credit control.
2. Reduce Mistakes
A system that works well rarely goes wrong. A car engine, our respiratory system, a road network, a region’s climate all work reliably 99% of the time.
It’s easy to see or imagine how some companies’ key systems work, such as when you shop at a supermarket, or buy online and receive the product days later, or when you eat in a restaurant or when you buy a movie through your digital TV supplier.
But we are all surrounded by less obvious systems, which much of the time we call routines, such as when getting ready for work or getting the kids ready for school. And these systems are broken down into processes such as in the way we shower, clean our teeth, dress and so on.
These systems and processes almost always work – you don’t forget to clean you teeth and you rarely put you tee shirt on the wrong way round.
The client I helped with calculating shift hours and hence salaries for their payroll, not only saved all that valuable time but also greatly reduced the number of mistakes. Usually, the week after payroll a dozen or so people would claim their pay had been wrong. Time had to be taken to check and then extra payment made. After introducing the system the number of correct claims fell to 1 or 2 at most. The mistakes in these cases were down to incorrect data being given because of things like last minute shift changes or absence. The system itself worked based on the information given and rarely does the company’s financial controller have to go back and correct anything.
I do a lot of work in the care sector where mistakes can result in harm for clients who are vulnerable adults. I’ve shown how to break down the care given into processes that are easy to understand, learn and remember.
These step-by-step process flows show exactly how to prepare a client with severe dementia for the care they need to receive. Even something as simple as getting dressed or taking a shower can cause confusion and upset if a carer doesn’t know the exact steps to take with a client who suffers from severe dementia.
Process flows can dramatically reduce the uncertainty of how to deliver that care and any mistakes that could result in distraught clients and upset relatives.
Product manufacturers have step-by-step processes when assembling a product so that a component isn’t left out and hospital surgeries have processes for ensuring everything is accounted for and nothing, like a swab, is left inside a patient.
Whatever your business, breaking repetitive tasks down into step-by-step processes will reduce the number of mistakes and the high cost and potential damage that can result.
3. Maintain Required Standards
A system has inputs and expected outputs. If what goes in is the same and the processes that work on those inputs work as they should, then what comes out will be of a consistent standard.
If you started a business that stood out because of your abilities to create something better you want that standard of creativity to be maintained by others.
So you teach them and you find you have to show them step-by-step what you want them to do in order to reach the same standard. Whether running a restaurant kitchen, cutting hair or making a suit, your way stands you out and so your way must be adopted, to the letter, by others.
Eventually, you’ll need others to train new people in the same way that you do. Detailing the step-by-step processes to follow will go a long way to achieving that goal and to your people delivering to your standard.
4. Get Creative
Have you noticed that when you’re engrossed in something not a lot else gets in? I get like that when watching a good film – my wife can say something to me but unless she says my name, much of what she says is completely lost to me. (And no, it’s not selective hearing.)
It’s the same with a task that requires your undivided attention. It’s like your brain has pulled down blinds on everything but the task. You are in that zone, time flies by un-noticed and nothing else gets in.
But if you are doing something that doesn’t require your full attention your mind can drift off and creative thoughts have a chance to form and develop.
I’ve had some of my most creative moments when walking the dogs or driving my car. You know what you’re doing, (you don’t need to think about when to change gear or that a red light means stop) you give the task enough attention (and are ready for anything untoward happening) and your mind thinks about other things.
When your business is well systemised you and your people have more time to be creative and you can think about new and better products and services that differentiate you from your competitors. And because your people know what they need to do and how to do it they too can let their minds drift and their creative juices flow.
5. Keep Moving Forward
A systemised business flows like a river. I describe this more in my report How Strong Is Your Business? Your business needs to flow smoothly from one cause-and-effect stage to the next and be carried through each stage by the systems and processes you have set up.
This flow is essentially your business running smoothly on a day-to-day basis without the need of your intervention. It will support your business and it will support your strategy.
It is this flow that ensures your strategy is being executed and it is this flow that will show you exactly where you are and any course changes you need to make.
Get this flow right – get these systems and processes working well together and you will see your business have a momentum like it’s never had before. And keeping this momentum going is vital.
6. Business Growth
Most businesses struggle because they don’t have this vital Systems building block (and 2 others) in place. If you spend all your time reacting to the demands of others and on sorting out problems then you cannot grow your business in any major strategic way.
I say, ‘major strategic’ because your business may indeed be growing in small steps like a snowball grows as it rolls along. But a big step-up growth, based on a clear strategy needs you spending time, thought and energy on it. That’s not going to happen if you’re too busy keeping your ship afloat.
I worked with a client in the technology sector (the other sector I spend a lot of time in) who was so busy just keeping his business at the level he’d got it to that there was no time or energy left to think about how to grow it to the next level.
We mapped out the flow of his business and established key systems and processes that freed him up to enough to be able to work together on developing a strategy that would take the business to the next level.
I worked with the owner of a care home who couldn’t expand beyond the one home she’d had for over 10 years because without her the home couldn’t function for long. (She yearned for a holiday without calls from work.)
Six months later the business was systemised enough for my client to start looking for a 2nd home. She was able to open the new home 5 months later and ahead of schedule because her first home was doing fine without her needing to be there on a daily basis. Two years later and with both homes full and running well this owner is ready to look for a 3rd home.
She told me that she will aim to open her 4th home one year after that because she now has a blueprint, on how to get a home to full occupancy and delivering the best of care, that she can apply to each new care home.
7. Increased Value
How much do you think your business is worth? Finger in the air, say 6 or 7 times the profit you make? What does that make the value of your business? £500,000, £1m, £10m?
If you are your business – if it cannot work without you in it, then it is worth next to nothing or as much as someone is willing to pay for it provided you carry on running it.
If the business relies on you and without you it will not work, then if you want to sell up to enjoy your dream house and lifestyle on some exotic beach you’re in for a shock and a huge disappointment.
For your business to be attractive to a buyer and hence of any value and assuming you don’t want to carry on running it indefinitely, then it must work without you in it – it must work as an efficient system. Only then will someone without your experience and knowledge be interested in buying it.
This came as a shock to the owner of a technology company. As is often the case, he was the expert and he developed the new products and had to resolve the more technical problems his customers had because no one else in the business had his knowledge and expertise.
Having systemised his business, created better documentation and demonstrations (including using video) and better trained his people, he no longer needs to provide hands-on support and others became involved in developing new products. Now his business is worth the millions he first thought it was when it relied on him.
The care home owner who was finally able to open a 2nd home now has a business that more than doubled in less than 2 years from the value it had been stuck at for the previous 10.
That’s just 7 reasons why systemising your business so that it runs well without you should be one of your top priorities.
I could have listed more like the…
- Confidence and motivation you and any people in your business, will gain from achieving a high standard of work day-in and day-out;
- Pride and sense of purpose that comes from delivering high quality products and services;
- Excitement from being able to confidently think up and develop new and innovative products and services;
- Clarity that comes from being able to step away and create a strategy that will take your business to the next level;
- Ability to finally be the leader your business needs to identify the right destination and keep on course to it;
- Environment needed to build an extraordinary business that is better than any you dreamed.
Does your business flow, as it should, because it is made up of a set of effective and efficient systems?
If you need any help or guidance on how to systemise your business then contact me now – no obligation – just find out how I can help.