The word “procedure” can easily be perceived in a negative light nowadays. It just sounds so… rote… compared to the exciting and dynamic buzzwords that so many “thought-leading, influencing, social media innovators” today toss around. Now, we don’t mean to disparage these personalities – we just want to emphasize that these innovations rely on a foundation to support them, and these foundations are based on business procedures and processes.
Let’s look at why even the most innovative businesses depend on their procedures to operate – and how a procedure can be properly created as well.
Why Processes and Procedures Matter to Businesses
If you were to list the most important qualities that a business should have, would your list include consistency? It really should. After all, if Client A, B, and C each paid for the same service, doesn’t it stand to reason that all three of them receive the same quality of service? Consistency can go a long way to support your client retention, your productivity, and any of a variety of other internal and external business considerations. Therefore, it only makes sense that establishing processes will work to your business’ benefit.
There are a variety of ways that they can do so, for that matter. For instance, they can…
- Help improve your business’ efficiency
- Optimize internal and external communications
- Minimize confusion in your operations
- Secure accountability in your workflows
- As mentioned above, better ensure consistency in outcomes
… so it only makes sense to invest the time it will take to standardize how your business completes certain tasks. Consider, for a moment, the modern fast food franchise.
Slight cost and menu changes aside, going to a fast food restaurant on one side of the country should be effectively identical to going to one on the other side. This is largely because there are essential processes that take place in the kitchens.
The moment a server starts to put together an order with a customer at the front counter, a screen in the back shows the order being constructed. This allows the team in the back to start putting it together, keeping the communications between the front and back teams effectively seamless. Each person back there has their own task – whether it is to cook the meat, start building the sandwiches, or finish them and send them to the front.
As a result, it isn’t unheard of for a finished sandwich to reach the customer less than a minute after they have placed their order – in fact, that’s the goal – and that is exactly how they expect it to be.
Now, while your business almost certainly has very different goals and services than a chain burger joint, there is no reason that you can’t experience similar benefits to your operations by implementing standardized procedures as well.
What Makes a Good Process
Now, this may feel like we’re getting a little into the weeds here, but not all processes are necessarily created equally. To make sure that your process is worth the time spent to formalize it, it should feature four qualities:
- It can be repeated – There isn’t much use in a process that only applies to a specific scenario or can’t hypothetically be repeated indefinitely. A good process can apply to a variety of circumstances, and be used more than once
- It contributes value – Any process you design should have a purpose to each step… there should never be any “busy work” involved in one of the included tasks.
- It has a clear beginning and an end – Every process you develop should have a defined starting point, where something signifies that the procedure should commence, as well as a conclusion, where no further action needs to be taken. Each step between these points also needs to be easy to differentiate from the others.
- The process can evolve – Of course, you aren’t going to (or at least, shouldn’t) continue using the same tools and solutions indefinitely, which will at some point impact these processes. Your processes should be able to accept these impacts without your clients seeing any ill effects.
Use Automation to Power Your Processes
If there is any issue that every business is subject to, it’s human error. Regardless of how perfect and refined your procedures are, there is always the risk that the end user will miss a step – like when the fast food worker forgets to put the pickle on your sandwich.
In your business, however, the consequences are probably a little greater than a missing crunch.
That’s why many businesses have embraced the use of automation to enhance their business processes. Not only does automation bring about the benefits we discussed above – the improved efficiency and accountability – it also helps you avoid human error at key points in your processes. Additionally, it frees up your employees to accomplish other things, perhaps related to that same process.
There are many different solutions designed to help with different tasks, and they can all play a role in your automated processes. Symmetric IT Group is here to help you determine what is best for your business’ efficiency.
To learn more about how we can help you automate some of your processes, or about the other benefits that we can provide for your organization, give us a call at (813) 749-0895.