When we talk of building systems in the business, many people think it’s just about getting the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place, which is a thick manual that has the “collection album” of all my processes in 1 place.
After 6 months of getting the consultant to consolidate the SOPs into a manual, we sometimes find it sits in the top shelf of one of the cabinets, getting dusty. While certain employees still fire-fight and complains of redundant steps in the business! How is this possible?
There is way more to building the systems in the business than we give it credit for. So let’s have a look at the “other” perspectives, that we (business coaches) see building SOPs as…
Business systems must have your Vision, Mission and 10-year goal in mind – some entrepreneurs build businesses just to solve problems that they have today. That makes the systems fit only for today’s issues. Systems should have the future capacity in mind, and not just fix problems we have today. This is why, some businesses grow to a certain stage, and have to re-evolve the entire system, because its business model changes drastically, and/or the system had not equipped itself for future growth.
Involve all stakeholders and your employees – building the systems in the business is not an “employee thing”. Most owners think this or think that this is a job for the more “meticulous” ones in the company. Systems must be led by the owners (if your business is still owner-run), especially when you still understand the most on the systems in the company (better than anyone else does). Some owners or leaders are too quick to “sub” it out ENTIRELY to employees or consultants, without getting involved, which makes the systems built less relevant for future use – hence sitting on the top shelf collecting dust.
Standardize your Systems & Processes with your Employees – this important so that they take ownership. Employees won’t appreciate the business owner + consultant hiding in a room for 6 months, churning out the “SOPs” without involving them. After all, who may understand the business (on-the-ground) better than our employees? And when we include employees, they are more likely to execute the systems, since their input was sought after while formulating the standard procedure to things.
Training and Auditing the Team – this is the part that most owners forget. Once the systems are consolidated into one place, and possibly in the form of a manual, it is time to train the team and ensure everyone understands how it all works now. Training the team is an important phase, as it determines that executability of the systems. At this stage, the systems might still need adjustments, and the employee’s feedback is critical. After this phase, an audit process must be in place. This need not be a complicated process. If you are a bigger company, and you have certain certifications in place, or run a factory or plant where safety and quality are critical, then a periodic and more in-depth systems audit is important. This is not a financial audit, but a systems audit.
For smaller businesses, all you need to do is put in place a checking mechanism, like using Mystery Shoppers, or testing mechanism to ensure that employees are on their toes. Upon simple audit, you will need to give proper feedback and ensure that the team understands why the systems are in place and that it is important to the company and its clients.
This is one of many principles, but I talk much in detail on how to overcome hurdles of an average business, in this article. Check out my article “Are You Tired of Running a Mediocre Business: Seven Success Principles that Differentiate GREAT Businesses from Mediocre Ones”
I cover these in detail accompanied with real examples and how to develop awesome systems in your business. Click here to find out more.
Maresa Ng is a Passionate Entrepreneur, Speaker and Business Advisor who helps business owners grow their business to a stage where it is commercial, profitable, and can continue to work without them. Her past as a corporate and investment banker had set a foundation for her in working with both SMEs and large businesses. As the leading Business Growth Specialist & Business Advisor in South East Asia, she dedicates herself to working with entrepreneurs all over the region, to build a Great Business and a Great Life.