How to Establish Processes to Support Scale
One of the side effects of scaling your business is the need to create standard processes. The larger your organization becomes, the more crucial it is for your staff to adhere to set guidelines and expectations.
To many entrepreneurs, the thought of codifying procedures evokes responses of boredom, fear, or sorrow. Writing documentation seems to have little to do with the thrill of bringing a vision to life. Whether the thought of creating processes excites you or makes you want to run and hide, the truth is that you can’t scale a business successfully without them.
As with any daunting task, it helps to break it down into smaller, discrete chunks that you can address one by one. Here are a few questions to address as you figure out processes to implement for your growing business.
When should you start implementing processes?
The exact timing will vary depending on the nature of your products and services, your staff size, and your personal preferences. A clear sign that you’ve waited too long to implement processes is a decline in staff productivity. If your best team members are constantly taking time to reinvent the wheel, remind others of the correct way to do things, or settle disputes, then it’s high time to codify your procedures so that everyone is working toward the same goals with the same expectations.
What kinds of processes are necessary?
All major aspects of your company should have processes in place to help guide your staff to make the best decisions. Some of the major business areas to consider are as follows.
- Administration: Anything administrative—payroll, billing, ordering, inventory, shift scheduling, etc.—should have a standardized process from day 1.
- Branding: How your brand looks, how it sounds, what its key values are—these attributes should be standardized across channels so that your brand has a cohesive presence.
- Quality: Define what standards each product or service at your business needs to adhere to, and what the customer-facing policy should be if products or services fail to meet these standards.
- Productivity: Give your team concrete goals when it comes to number of customer helped, percentage of calls answered, time spent on each checkout, etc. If they have a number to work toward, they’ll be much more productive than if they have nothing to benchmark their efforts against.
- Customer Service: Having processes in place on the customer service side will ensure that patrons have a consistent experience. This will also protect you when unhappy customers come to you with complaints—if your policies are in writing, it’s much harder for them to argue that they were promised something else.
Who should define these processes?
As the business owner, you should be driving the processes put in place. You don’t have to do it alone, however. If you have a manager or co-owner who geeks out on documentation and workflows, enlist their help. It’ll make the experience more enjoyable and give you a chance to get a second opinion on areas where you might need one.
The Bottom Line
While defining standard processes and writing documentation might not be the most exciting task, it’s one of the most important things you can do to help your business scale successfully. One of your many challenges is to figure out when to introduce new processes, what kinds are needed for each aspect of your business, and who should be involved in defining processes. Discovering the answers to these questions will have a huge impact on your day-to-day operations, so it’ll be well worth the time and effort you invest.