Developing an effective process is the key to a smooth sailing business, no matter how large or small. Not every business follows the same pattern or steps because the process is personalized to your company. However, these 10 steps for developing your process will guide your success.
This may seem like an added complication to an already strenuous job, but trust me, strong operational processes are your saving grace if executed successfully. However, it can be easy to miscalculate and over-engineer, creating inefficient processes from a lack of standardization. This is where the outside perspective of a process designer can help!
Having a step-by-step guide that paves the way to reaching business milestones is priceless, making things easier for you, your employees, and other stakeholders (if any) to reach your goals efficiently.
Learn how you can develop a successful process and understand how a process designer like me can help!
The Method to the Madness: 10 Steps for Developing Your Process
Think of your operations as a puzzle – you’ve got to find all the pieces and determine the best way to cobble things together. In order to solve the puzzle, you’ll need to note anything and everything that goes into planning and execution, and evaluate it all.
Starting with these steps will help you uncover and assemble all the puzzle pieces:
1. Determine What is Repeatable
Before dreaming bigger and building on top of what you have, you need to do some spring cleaning.
Look at the procedures you have in place for tasks, big and small, and determine whether they’re worth keeping. You can judge by weighing their pros and cons or realistically looking at any help they provide. Identify tasks without procedures and weigh their necessity. Group like tasks and determine if and how they can be standardized or whether an outlier is truly necessary.
You can incorporate the keepers into the process for a consistent approach and look for ways to decommission the others.
2. Decide What Needs Supervision
Be realistic about any checks and balances you might need. There are many areas where your employees, management, or you might need some supervision. Think about things like regulations, risk controls, incentives for output, and quality management.
Oversight over your various processes results in consistent quality and protects your business from preventable risks. Identify controls to help oversee quality, quantity, scaling, maintenance, and other task areas.
Drafting proper procedures and encouraging accountability are an important step to ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding desired performance.
3. Define Your Main Goal
The reason behind the process is your motivation to implement it efficiently. Having a specific targeted outcome provides you with the vision and allows you to measure success.
Why are you trying to improve? What is it that you want out of this restructuring process? Who benefits from this?
Think over these points and focus on them. Your desired outcomes can be related to any segment of your business.
Some common goals are:
- Streamlining existing work
- Cutting down monotonous or redundant manual tasks
- Introducing new products or services, etc.
4. Identify Key Players
There can be a long chain of personnel between you and your clients. Don’t forget to identify each one and recognize the importance of their roles. Ask probing questions to ensure you’ve identified the key players and understand how they each interact.
When it comes to asking questions, receiving updates, or delegating tasks, it’s important to know who to contact. Knowing all the participants helps to provide a clear picture of who delivers each input and who receives each output.
5. Mark the Pain Points
Problem-solving is an important aspect to this process. Work to uncover any weak links or challenges in your existing approach and reflect on how improvements can be made to aid your colleagues.
You’ll need to know the specific issues that exist (or may pop up in the future) and their sources. Identifying your pain points will help you later in the process design as you determine what you can quickly and easily resolve.
6. Map-Out Current Procedures and Possible Improvements
Now that you’ve looked at your existing system like a puzzle, what pieces are present, and what is missing?
You’ve already tossed the unnecessary pieces in the first step, but take a moment to identify any other redundant items. Now, highlight the free spaces and any unintentional gaps left from before.
Look for potential problems, disconnects in the transition of tasks, communication gaps between different levels of employees, and any other possible breakdowns to ensure they are part of your solution design.
7. Choose Relevant IT and Learn it
Technology is incredibly diverse and versatile. You can find IT solutions for a multitude of tasks, use software to streamline manual work, and find other efficiencies to help increase productivity. By optimizing your daily tasks digitally, you can also reduce costs and grow your business rapidly.
With such versatility, you can substitute high-tech options with technology that fits your budget and needs. Don’t use technology for the sake of technology, and don’t overcomplicate things with extra bells and whistles!
Note: when comparing options and determining whether the monetary investment is worthwhile, we recommend consulting an expert, comparing the features necessary to your business, and learning the ins and outs to take full advantage of your selected tool.
8. Determine How You Can Benefit From Automation
Automating parts of your business successfully is a skill and investment with a huge return on investment.
There’s a high chance you can automate some part of your business, with fear or a lack of technical knowledge being the thing that’s holding you back. If you aren’t comfortable with full automation or it just doesn’t match your business model, think about ways to partially automate!
9. Discuss Your Findings
Check-in with your business partners or stakeholders about how you’ve mapped the business processes. It’s always best to have someone play the devil’s advocate. You can find loopholes and discuss their solutions.
Confirm your process maps with those involved in the steps prior to moving forward.
10. Ask Lots of Questions – “Why” Is Your Best Friend
Sorting everything from A to Z is the benefit of this process and you should be crystal clear on everything that happens. Ask “why” to uncover the root of why things are done the way they are – it’s possible the answer is just “because that’s how it’s always been done”! If that’s the case, you’ve got a clear opportunity to adjust and improve your processes.
Don’t forget to consult experts, such as Process Designers, to really solidify your plan. You can take advice, influence others, or overcome frustrations by having an outsider’s opinion.
What’s Next? Map Out the Future State Process!
You’ve done the heavy lifting already; now it’s all about adjusting your approach.
- Fix any missing connections
- Design how data and technology flow
- Think about the communication flows – i.e., automated emails, notifications, etc.
- Resolve any pain points if it makes sense to do so
- Keep the process flexible – i.e., so a similar product or service could be added or changes can be made with limited technical or other interruption
- Anticipate future changes – think about upcoming regulatory changes, the business roadmap, company objectives, etc.
- Keep the timeline and complexity in mind – you want something that can be implemented relatively quickly to improve user adoption
- Get input and feedback from key players – the more engaged they are, the more likely to adopt the new changes
- Anticipate any concerns or blockers and mitigate risks
- Simplify, simplify, simplify – look back with an eye for simplification to ensure you’re not adding unnecessary complexity
Where Does a Process Designer Come in?
If you’ve read through the steps, it’s easy to see that this is not always an easy undertaking! It can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t quite sure where to start.
This is where the expertise of a process designer comes in handy!
You’ll be able to divide the mental load with someone experienced. A strong process designer will provide you with valuable insight throughout the process and really dig into how things are or will be done.
An expert will know the right questions to ask, so you’ll be covered on all the possibilities of success and setbacks. The best part is they’ll be able to visualize your goals, so you can get a better view of where your business is headed!
Ready to Develop Your Process?
We have tons of resources waiting for you if you’re all pumped up to get started with designing a process, and you’re not sure where to begin.
Process is my passion, and I’ve helped business owners just like you design their processes. I ask the right questions, and we brainstorm until we find the best solution!
We’d love to work with you!
Struggling in your work environment? Need to streamline your processes? Is your work-life balance unbalanced?
We’d love to help you overcome any work challenge you’re facing! Contact us to set up a free consultation to discuss how we can help.