Your business processes are critical to the success of your business, and when you get it wrong with your processes, you will be hindering your business in a major way and you won’t even know what is wrong with the business.
In simple terms, when we talk about your ‘business processes,’ we are talking about ‘the way you do things in your business.’
No matter what your business goals are, or the challenges you are currently facing in your business, your business processes are connected in one way or another to those things.
Your ability to satisfy your customers, cut down on your running costs, increase productivity, increase profitability, etc., depends on how efficient your processes are.
As a business owner, you should be conscious of optimising your processes and making them as efficient as possible. While this article is not about process improvement, let us take a look at some common process mistakes small business owners make.
1. No formal processes established or documented
As long as a business is in existence and serves customers, that means activities are being carried out in the business. However, some businesses have not consciously outlined steps that have to be taken in carrying out their daily tasks.
Are you aware of what your processes are? Or do you believe that the work will get done one way or the other? Are different team members are left to do things whichever way they like in serving customers or achieving other goals? If your business operates like this, you can’t be efficient, effective or consistent in quality delivery.
2. Processes documented but not known or followed
Let’s say you have taken the step to outline your processes; that is good, but it doesn’t end there. If the method of passing down process information is left to be done orally, then as employees come and go, it will be difficult to maintain the right processes. Some processes may be unknown to new employees.
This is why, apart from documenting your processes, it is important for them to be properly communicated to new employees to ensure they are being followed strictly. Process documentation should be part of what is needed to onboard new team members.
3. Making people the process
If you ask some business owners about certain process steps and they tell you, “so-and-so handles this,” it means that person is the process and only that person knows that process.
It is okay for an employee to be in charge of a particular operation. But the process for handling that operation should still be documented so that it can be passed down to others when necessary. The question is; what if that person leaves?
4. Processes that are too complex
Processes can become too bulky and complex. This happens when a lot of unnecessary steps and people are involved. Complex processes are often difficult to outline or explain. Sometimes, there are so many layers of steps, approvals, as well as back and forth movement of information or users.
If you have complex processes, chances are that you either did not document them initially, or they have not been reviewed over a long time.
5. Processes centred around technology
Technology is good for business, but your processes should not be built around a particular technology. What happens when technology changes? The business will fall apart.
The right way is to create your process first, identify the technology that supports it, then move to adopt that technology. Separating the process from the technology being used to implement will make it easy to adopt newer technologies that come up, and not get stuck.
6. Not providing enough details
If you have worked out your processes and have them documented, congratulations! But here is one question: Is it detailed and clear enough so that a new person can follow through?
One of the goals that process documentation seeks to achieve is consistency in quality delivery. Since you may not be able to stop employees from leaving, having a well-documented process will help new team members carry out tasks in similar ways, so the final outputs are the same.
7. Doing things the same way for ages
Some businesses have the “we have always done it this way” mentality. They haven’t tried changing their processes or embracing new technologies or methods of doing things. When you ask why they do things in a particular way, they can’t explain except by telling you it’s just how things are done there.
The world is constantly changing, and there are new technologies, ideas and innovations that are increasing speed, efficiency, and quality in different areas. If you are stuck on doing things the same old ways, you are already on your way out of business. Your competitors, with the help of improved processes, will be able to deliver better results than you, and customers love improvements.
Have you had someone come to review, assess and improve your processes?
Have you measured your current processes for efficiency and effectiveness?
Are you guilty of any of these mistakes we’ve talked about?
If you are, don’t feel too bad. You can do something about it. The most important thing is to remember that processes won’t repair themselves!
This is why you should consider getting someone who can help straighten them out, and Owens & Xley is your go-to for anything process. Send us an email/DM, and we will take it up from there.