What’s the difference between an entrepreneur who’s flourishing and one who’s struggling? Why do some businesses succeed while others fail? It’s not just luck; there are patterns—processes—that successful businesses follow.
Process can be understood as the “how-to” of your business. This can be as general as an overall structure or framework that all employees are guided by, or as specific as the steps an individual employee must follow to complete their job well. It defines the steps taken to deliver on your vision.
In any business, processes are what hold it all together as it helps us coordinate behavior and reduce the amount of time spent on reinventing tasks each time, therefore increasing productivity. If everyone is working their own way of doing things it makes it very difficult to coordinate activities and increase efficiency.
Let’s examine key reasons why business owners should invest more time and energy into their processes and how the clarity of business processes is a by-product of a well-thought-out business model.
Process creates clarity because it provides a way to specify exactly what you do and how you do it. For example, many businesses say they’re going to offer the best customer service but few can explain how they’re actually doing that.
It’s the difference between accidental success – “woo hoo, we’re successful, but not quite sure how we got here?” – and intentional success – “not only do I know how I got here, but I can do it again, and even better, I can teach someone else to do it.” This equals scalability in your business!
How specific should your processes be? In EOS(R) we teach that there should be just a handful of processes that give you 80% of your success. And they should be on one-three pages only—high level (see a pilot’s checklist while in the cockpit). Each one of the major steps in that process can link to specific, more detailed, step-by-step documents. These more detailed steps are used in your training so they get it right. The high level process is used to ensure all the major steps are completed every time (think about the checklists in surgery – high level, they don’t go into the details of HOW to suture, but that it should be done before the surgery is deemed complete). The high level processes are to ensure you have consistency. Behind them are the hours of training you give your people to ensure the steps are done right every time.
Following this, there needs to be some sort of monitoring or follow-up (“trust but verify”) to ensure these processes are implemented consistently and well. A process cannot be effective without some sort of measurable control over it; otherwise, what’s the point?
Perfect processes do not exist. But good for now does! And, they still need to be revised and updated periodically (we recommend review annually for agreement or tweaking) due to changes in business practices and procedures.
Ensures consistency of deliverables
Consistency is the key. All companies want consistent deliverables, but many fail to achieve it because they do not have a process—or a followed one—in place. Processes provide the structure to maintain consistency.
The key to creating a process is to first define the desired deliverables and then assign specific tasks and responsibilities for making the deliverables happen. Each step in the process must be owned by someone and that ownership should be clearly communicated and documented. The owner then has the responsibility for that step and what it produces, as well as the accountability for achieving the desired results.
Business processes drive outcomes. A process-driven business venture has a structured and efficient approach toward achieving its objectives. Processes streamline work for efficiency and it pays off in the long run. Without processes, it’s hard to know what needs to be done, how to do it, when to do it, and who is responsible.
Increases your competitive edge
The old way to run a business was to keep improving the product or service until it became so good everyone wanted to buy it. The new way is to have a great business process as well as a great product or service. It’s not just about improving product and service quality; a business has to also improve its processes—how it gets things done.
Investing in business processes is a great way to improve a company’s competitive edge. Business processes are the way you turn inputs into outputs. If you’re not consciously managing this transformation process—if you’re just doing what you’ve always done—then your ability to compete will be determined mostly by chance.
A business is not simply what it offers; it’s the entire process by which the product/service is created and delivered—one that delights your customers every time they interact with you.
Having a well-defined workflow, along with clear roles and responsibilities, will boost your team’s ability to handle any situation.
In a well-run business, there should never be any doubt about who is responsible for what and how things get done. While this doesn’t guarantee success, it reduces the chances of failure. Subtly but surely, if you let your processes fall apart, your business will start to fall apart too.
Processes are the natural implementation of your organization’s strategy. If you don’t have them, or if they are not clear, you will be less efficient, make more mistakes, and be unable to grow or change effectively.
A business that follows processes is more likely to meet its objectives. Processes allow a business to achieve better results than it otherwise would by being consistent, structured, precise, and highly competitive—and frankly, a more fun and profitable company as well!