Kicking off your process reviews
Why do a review?
In the early stages of growing a business, you will be continuously experimenting and adapting, there is no one set process. However, over time you will get into your groove and you should document what works. This is key to maintaining consistency of quality and gives new employees a clear guide for hitting the ground running. A major reason for new hires to leave - not having a clear job role and lack of training.
Then over time, as the business environment and technology changes plus new regulations etc come into play, you will need to assess if your processes are fit for purpose.
Plus as you hire new staff, they will bring with them new ideas and innovation. It would be a shame not to take advantage of the improvements they can bring.
Starting the process review
No matter the size of your company, the structure is the same for approaching a process review. The below chart goes through the road-map for conducting a review. It maybe that you already have extensive process maps and documented processes, great, therefore you can skip to step 2.
As you go through each step there will be further questions to ask based on your business and size, don't just stick to the suggested questions.
What will help to complement this is to conduct a PESTLE analysis. This involves looking at the factors impacting your business under the headings of - Political, Economic, Social, Technology, Legal, Environmental. There are other strategy tools that can be used depending on your business to consider.
What is important to appreciate is that some processes will not change. Change for the sack of change will not go down well with your team, but also with clients and customers. So, make sure there will be a benefit for changing.
If you are looking to change a major piece of software do bear in mind a common mistake. One of the biggest reasons a new system implementation fails (or creates bad morale with staff) is that the processes where not adapted to get the most out of the new technology.
Often systems such as Oracle Net Suites or SAP will have automation that removes the needs for several steps. However, by insisting on making the system work around an old process, you miss out on vital improvements. Plus waste a lot of money creating manual work-arounds etc.
How often should you do a review?
That can depend on the size and maturity of a company. Not a clear answer, I know, but if you have been trading 2-3 years and never done a documentation of processes, it would be advisable to do this exercise soon. If you have been trading 5-6 years and have done a review at year 3, it might be time to get the team together and review existing documentation. Agree what can stay the same and what needs attention.
After 10 years, process reviews will become more localised and a major organisation wide review would be as a result of a major business change, such as a new system or a merger with another company.
There is a high chance as you hire new people they will force the question as they observe processes or policies that are dated or missing an opportunity to improve. So, do keep an open mind to evolving processes as the business grows but make sure these changes are documented. It doesn't have to be a 20 page document. It can be a simple process flow done in Visio and a one pager guide.
Documenting processes and reviews can have a number of positive outcomes. Such as profit improvements, training improvements, customer satisfaction and reduction in staff turnover. However, do be careful how you approach the review process. employees can be resistant if they feel you are doing this to remove jobs or change their roles.
Getting their buy-in is important. Make sure they get a say and echo that the purpose is for them to improve their roles and open opportunities to upskill.
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