Does the thought of implementing a business system send a shiver down your spine? Then here’s a painless introduction to four key areas that would benefit from business systems.
Business systems (aka quality systems, business processes or procedures) have developed a reputation for being a burden – extra work that has to be completed on top of running your business. When implemented well, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Quality systems are about improving your business, minimising errors and creating a consistent and appropriate experience for your client.
If implementing a quality business system seems daunting, a good place to start is by looking at the following four key areas, and the benefits that having a quality system could provide.
1. Procedures and forms
Every business has processes that could benefit from the structure provided by forms, checklists or written procedures. These sorts of manuals become vitally important when your business expands from ‘I’ to ‘we’. Some of the benefits include:
- better consistency of message and service
- easier training (important if you are about to bring on new staff)
- better business continuity
- more time for you to focus on your own tasks
- lower error rates and fewer customer complaints
When developing your documents, write for the end-user, make sure that your documents are accessible, welcome improvement suggestions and ensure documents continue to accurately reflect your process.
Congratulations! Your business is booming and you are about to bring on an employee. Make their induction count. Most organisations focus on their regulatory requirements, such as workplace health and safety, then it’s straight down to business. No matter what position they’ve been hired to fill, seize the opportunity to spend some time with your new employee, and educate them about:
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- the business, key people and its history
- product or service lines
- in-house vs. outsourced business activities
- major clients
- setting business goals and what their contribution is to these
Give them the big picture. Make them as excited about your business as you are. Employees who are emotionally invested in a business invest more of themselves and are more productive.
The way in which training is delivered has a large impact on its success. If you are trying to work from a checklist in your head, your approach to training may be a little haphazard. If you have a written checklist you will have greater direction and focus. When planning your training, consider whether the trainee needs to be able to understand it, do it, manage it or maybe all three and adapt your delivery accordingly.
Effective training is supported by:
- effective procedures and documentation as a reference point
- a training plan (who needs training in what, for how long and to what level)
- training modules (a document outlining the training and assessment required to become competent in a task)
- feedback from the trainee to see what can be done better next time
Training requires a considerable investment of time and money; however, when done well it will ensure you get more valuable time to concentrate on your business.
4. Goal setting and monitoring
Setting goals and targets is important, but the real benefit comes from monitoring your actual performance against these goals on a regular basis.
If you have a team, involve them in the process of setting targets and recording progress. Make it visible, use a board and share your progress. If you usually hit 90 per cent of your target but suddenly drop to 50 per cent, investigate the cause. Does something need fixing? Is there an improvement you can make?
If you work alone, have a trusted friend run through the review with you. A fresh pair of eyes can see things that you miss. Make sure that you celebrate reaching milestones and targets. If you have a team, include them in the celebrations.
Implement some of these suggestions and experience the benefits for yourself.
Which one of these suggestions would benefit your business systems the most? Why?