PART 3 – Systems & Technology
Now that you have the team performing well and delivering at a high level, and a stabilized delivery and distribution process, it’s time to systematize the management of the Business and leverage technology to move your business further. This is the third part of our four-part series with focus on systematizing your organization and using technology to streamline implementation.
New keep in mind, processes and procedures are part of a larger system, and if you don’t have the steps well documented and reinforced throughout your business, the systems will eventually break down. If your systems are missing critical input and lack comprehensive review, the very foundation of your organization is on shaky ground. Also keep in mind, if all the process steps and knowledge is locked in your head as the business owner, and isn’t spread throughout your team, they won’t be able to run the systems that ultimately delivery at a high level to your customers. That means all the work you did to ensure (a) you have the right team and (b) you have the right delivery and distribution process, will be wasted.
To begin, you must narrow the field. Start by asking a few questions.
- What do I do every day and week and month? These are considered routine and repetitive tasks.
- How long does it take to do each task?
- How often do I do the task or activity?
- How do I carry out each of the tasks?
- Why do I do it the way that I do? What happens if I don’t?
- What would be considered a good day of activity in tasks? (the right tasks)
Once you have an idea of what your processes and key tasks are, then you do the same exercise with everyone on your team. This is where we start the process of getting the business to work without the owner. By systematizing each section of how the business runs, from how the phone is answered by the first point of contact, to how the management team performs planning and strategy, be on the lookout for ways to simplify and systematize the business to enable consistency and predictability.
“Systematize the routine, humanize the exception”
In this stage of the process, document all systems and procedures within the business. Start from the bottom up, and get team members to document how they complete routine tasks. Start with Daily/Weekly/Monthly tasks from the bottom of the organization first. Most large companies already have processes, structures, and systems in place. The challenge then becomes improving these things, as well as adapting them to new market realities and requirements.
When you start documenting these procedures, and as you look for ways to eliminate redundancy, or simplify steps and improve execution – there are more questions that must be addressed.
- What are the most important processes in this organization?
- Which of these processes should be improved for efficiency’s sake or to better serve our customers?
- What are the most important systems and technology in the organization?
- Which of these should be the highest priority to improve?
- In what ways does our organizational structure cause inefficiency, lack of accountability, poor communication, delays, poor customer service, and/or lack of clarity of roles?
- How can we improve our structure?
Here are a few ways to document your input on systems.
- Visuals like – Photographs, Audios, Videos
- Computer Systems
So what systems should you dissect, retool or refine? The answer – all of them! Start with each of these areas.
Daily office operation systems
- Receiving and opening the mail
- Answering the telephone
- Faxing and e-mailing
- Purchasing and maintaining office supplies and equipment
- Backing up and archiving data
- Dealing with incoming/outgoing delivery needs
Product development systems
- Developing manufacturing methods and procedures
- Developing manufacturing costing and bidding process
- Developing product and protecting it legally
- Developing packaging and collateral material (eg catalogues)
Manufacturing and inventory systems
- Establish product or service pricing (retail and wholesale)
- Determining product or service warranties offered
- Establishing reorder process for inventory production
- Receiving and storing product inventory
- Selecting vendors
- Reconciling physical inventory with accounting records
Order processing and tracking systems
- Taking orders and recording the orders by mail, fax, phone or online
- Fulfilling and packaging the orders
- Confirming details before service or product delivery
- Sending the orders
- Management system for freight, couriers and vehicles
Order tracking systems
- Invoicing customers for the orders
- Invoicing and Accounts Receivable Systems
- Receiving payments for the orders and crediting customers for payment (whether cash, check or credit card)
- Monitoring credit control and age of accounts
- Starting the collection process for outstanding receivables on a timely basis
Customer Service Systems
- Measure quality and professionalism of service delivery
- Responding to customer complaints
- Replacing defective product or performing other warranty service
- Returns procedure for inventory receiving and customer payment return
Accounts Payable Systems
- Petty cash
- Purchasing procedures and approvals required
- Payment process for supplies and inventory
Sales and Marketing Systems
- Create an overall marketing plan
- Developing general leads and prospects
- Continuously measure number and origin of all leads
- Measure conversion rate for each salesperson
- Designing and producing promotional materials
- Creating an advertising plan
- Creating a direct mail plan
- Creating a public relations plan
- Developing and maintaining a website
- Developing and maintaining a database
- Analyzing and tracking sales statistics
- Keep a record of your profit margins
- Measure your average £ sale for every team member
Technology can help systematize and simply your process. Investigate CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems to manage your customer data; programs like Quick Books and or other accounting software can help you with financial reporting, and automated marketing deployment tools like Hootsuite to assist you with reducing time and save your organization money. If computers and phone systems are old and lack capacity to meet your needs, consider upgrading. Investing in the short-term can lead to big returns in the long-term.
If it seems like a huge project. You aren’t wrong. It is. But with the help of a professional business coach you can breakdown the project in rational and logical steps. A business coach wouldn’t give you a laundry list of ills, they will work with you and your staff to make meaningful and last change to your organization. Their objective eye will help you see what you may have missed or have avoiding seeing for a long time.
Click here to learn more about ActionCOACH and our business coaching and education programs. You can also schedule a 15-minute discovery call with one of our certified business coaches, or contact me directly at email@example.com.
I look forward to working with you and your business!