Processes are, at their most basic level, a sequence of steps that instruct your staff on how to complete tasks efficiently and effectively. Processes can be built for repeatable events that coordinate the effort of several staff, use of tech, and need a certain order of completion. There are also workflows, which are micro-portions of an overall process. An easy way to think of processes and workflows is, a process is the umbrella and the workflows are the spokes. It is important to know the jargon so you can design and adopt time-saving processes to streamline your business operations and people.
A “process” is a group of workflows, automations, and elements referenced within the workflows. Elements can be items such as email, task, mail merge or other templates.
A “workflow” is a series of steps done in a certain order and assigned to specific people or teams. Each workflow step clarifies WHO does the work, HOW the work should be done efficiently, WHAT elements to use to reduce the work, and WHEN it is due.
An “automated workflow” is a workflow that does the work for you. For example, you might change data within a CRM field from the word “prospect” to “client”. Automatically, an email goes to the new client, using an email template, that welcomes them to your business. And another automated workflow sends an email to the referral source to thank them for the introduction to this new client.
As you design your processes, you want to automate as much as possible so your team’s time is spent learning new skills, providing irreplaceable client service, and working ON the business.
When it comes to building out business processes, the payoff is worth the effort. Processes ease the need to hire additional staff and free up employee time so they can work at their highest skill level. They also enable staff to focus on projects that help scale the business and increase revenues. In turn, you can focus on your highest priorities whether that is meeting top prospects and clients, networking, or simply getting home a little bit earlier each day.
As you develop improved processes, you can use the IDEOS TM methodology. Download the methodology, along with the process elements and outline, to help guide you.
Building out business processes is easiest when you use a team approach. Two heads are much better than one at identifying glitches and bottlenecks that can cause confusion or stifle progress.
Step 1: Download the attached template.
Step 2: Establish 365 or Google sharing rights with other staff.
Step 3: Schedule a kickoff meeting with this agenda:
Explain that process building uncovers time and energy wasters that can be eliminated and that team collaboration will accelerate this effort.
Decide your method of documenting and collaborating. Choices can be wipe boarding, Poster Post-it paper, stickie note mapping, online project software, or CRM workflows. We recommend project software like Asana or a 365/Google Shared Excel sheet as they are easily accessible to add random thoughts and quick notes for all to see.
Decide which operations process needs the most attention.
Start documenting all the tasks involved in that process.
Task everyone to add more items to the document before the next meeting.
Schedule the next process build meeting.
Efficient and effective business processes are critical to the successful management of every business. They guide staff, allow easier management of the business, reduce confusion and need for additional staff, and allow more time spent on business development and quality client interactions. The use of processes ensures staff members aren’t wasting time reinventing the wheel, communicating ineffectively, or wavering from business standards. And the payoff of creating processes is magnified and liberating for growing businesses that seek to manage a lean team and maintain strong profits.
Please remember to add any new epiphanies and ideas to your Master Plan of Ideas and Initiatives.