A great way to think about the importance of systems is to use this acronym. S.Y.S.T.E.M (Saving Your Self Time Energy & Money). When it comes to systems, the key is to “Optimise the routine, humanise the exception.”
The best way to optimise your business is to create systems processes and procedures for routine tasks. Anything that cannot be systemised needs to be run by people. Always look at putting a system in place rather than employing more people. A system means that things are done consistently without relying on a specific person. It also means that your team can focus on your clients instead of the processes.
It is important to remember:
- Systems run your business.
- People run your systems.
- You lead your people.
Why create systems? There are many benefits to creating systems in your business.
Consistency – Tasks and process can be carried out by anyone in your business with consistency. Having the ability to be able to follow a set process will ensure that no critical steps are missed. Customers and team members enjoy the predictability that systems create.
Efficiency – One of the keys to a successful business is efficient operations. Streamlined processes and procedures ensure that tasks are being completed efficiently.
Reduce confusion and mistakes – your team will be better equipped to make decisions at critical times. Confusion and guess work lead to mistakes that can be costly and unsafe in your business. Good systems will guide your team when it matters most.
Measure performance – Tasks that are systemised are easier to measure. This gives you the ability to set KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and hold your team accountable.
Scalability – Growing your business is easier once you have developed good systems.
Sale value – A business with well-developed and documented processes will usually attract a higher sale price.
Four steps to systemisation
Once you have identified a task you would like to systemise, there are four steps to create your system.
- Flowchart your process.
It may be helpful to first video record someone carrying out the task being completed and take notes of each step. From this you can now start creating a flow chart of each step. It’s a good idea to use some form of software for this, or if you prefer using pen and paper like ‘post it’ notes so you can move each step around as you develop it keeping you system design fluid.
- Document how it gets done.
Once your flow chart is documented ask someone with little knowledge of the job using the specified steps. If they need anything explained to complete the task, then create another step or a checklist to assist them and add this into the documented process. Once done ask a different person to complete the task as previously done to see if the documented system is okay. Continue this process until the task can be successfully completed by anyone using the newly documented steps.
- Measure suing KPI’s.
Now that your system is created you will need to monitor it to make sure that it is working and make tweaks as required. Create key performance indicators. (KPI’s) that can be reported on a regular basis to monitor the success of your system. These KPI’s should be your gateway to knowing if something went wrong, and also to be a way to measure the effect of any changed you make in an attempt to improve your system.
- Allow the system to change/grow.
Ensure the culture in your business encourages your team to suggest improvements. Your systems need to evolve over time. Review your system on a minimum of a quarterly basis to ensure it is still appropriate and suitable. Make any changes and corrections as required.
Where to start
When figuring out where to start systemising, ask yourself the following four questions:
- What questions or task do I repeatedly get from my team, customer or supplier? Stop the routine of continually answering the same questions or solving the same problem from scratch by answering with a systemised, documented process that is easy to finance.
- What are the obvious “bottlenecks” or inefficiencies in my business? Identify the areas of inefficiency and develop systems to remove or reduce the effects these bottlenecks have on your business.
- What are you or other senior team members doing on a regular basis that could be outsourced or delegated if it were systemised?
- Systemise it, delegate it and this will allow you to spend more time on higher level/more important activities. Is there anything you dislike doing which could be done by someone else?
Some additional tips
- Keep the systems simple and easy to use or people will not follow them.
- Use lots of photos, audio and video etc. This may be as simple as printing a computer screen or videoing someone doing the task at hand. This will make the systems much easier to follow.
- Document your system in a policies or procedures or operations manual. Keep it in easy to access format, preferably online. Make sure everyone knows where it is.