Great business systems make great businesses
Trust the process they say – but what if it's the process that's holding you back?
Processes play a huge part in every business. Some are well considered and documented, while others just evolve, and some you've probably never even thought about. For all of them, it’s worth asking a simple question: “Is there a better way to do this?” It’s amazing the results you can achieve just by questioning why you do things a certain way and exploring alternatives.
The business process management cycle
The business process management cycle is a way of ensuring continuous improvement. The idea is to start with the processes that have the highest value – the ones that are most aligned with your business goals and strategy. Then follow the steps below:
- Design – identify the process and how it works – or could work.
- Model – test the design by introducing variables.
- Execute – put the process into practice.
- Monitor – keep a critical eye on it.
- Optimise – how can you tweak it for further efficiency?
- Document – write it down or document it in some way so the learnings aren’t lost.
Making your way through the cycle above for each process will help you understand your business’s workflow, help you to prioritise and give you visibility over the whole business. This is important because a small change in one process can cause significant disruption to a seemingly unrelated part of the business.
Good business systems can not only improve your business, they can also add value to potential buyers:
They save time and money
Remember lean thinking? That is the term used to describe the way of thinking that led to the rise of Toyota from bankrupt Japanese car maker in the early 1950s to one of the world’s most successful global automotive players today. Lean thinking is all about the process. It’s about streamlining and eliminating waste in the system – and it’s the waste that costs you time and money.
They add value to your business
Potential business buyers want a well-run business with strong systems and processes. This enables a smooth transition between owners, and it is also a sign that the business will be able to withstand change. Well-documented business systems are a huge benefit when selling a business as they provide both a "how to" guide and help in transferring the business goodwill to the new owner.
They make you replaceable
This is a good thing. Small business owners tend to do everything and be everything to their business. While this approach can work in the short term, over the long term it’s a disaster waiting to happen. If your business relies heavily on you, it is not an attractive option for potential buyers. The goal is for anyone to be able to step in and take over where you left off. This means, not just having great processes, but also documenting them, so they are reusable.
They empower people
The people in the best position to improve processes in your business are the people using them the most, and often these are not the typical decision makers in the business.
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