What do we mean by Business Systems?
At Opening Gates, when we refer to business systems, we mean information contained in a “How We Do It Here” (HWDIH) Manual. In its simplest form, it is a clear and concise record of how you do what you do and how the business works, so anyone could step into a different role at any one time.
Let’s start with a few questions about your business systems…
- If we took the owners or leaders out of your business for 8 weeks – what would happen?
- How long could you be away from your business without impacting sales and profitability?
- Could a “locum” come into your business and replace you without notice and do what needs to be done to keep your business running like clockwork?
- Is there someone in your business who knows so much about the way you do things in your business that training a replacement would take a long time?
- Are your documented systems those which are currently being followed by all team members?
How did you go?
5 Reasons to Document your Business Systems?
Well documented effective business systems:
- are central to improved productivity, training, quality control, brand protection, and business growth;
- enable the owners and leaders to be released from the day to day operations and to work on the business adding even more value;
- enable the owners to take time out for rest and recreation, planned or otherwise;
- are a starting point for an organised process of continual improvement; and
- increase the business value – the processes and procedures that contribute to the success and profitability of the business is a significant consideration when assessing the business value. If there is no documentation then the IP leaves with the seller. Your business systems are often the difference between a good and an average price.
Common reasons for not having documented business systems
1. The owner doesn’t have time or the skill set to document what they know. It would be wonderful if we could take the USB stick out of your head and download all the knowledge.
For those who are not keyboard efficient, consider recording how you do things and have someone else type it up or use voice recognition software as the first draft. You could also have yourself videoed doing what you are doing and talk your way through for explanation.
2. It is just too big and time consuming of a task to document all the business systems.
You can’t do a project – and documenting your systems is just that – it is a big and valuable project and the mere size is often the reason we don’t get started. You can, however, do actions and this is a project which needs to be broken down into bite sized actions.
How to Develop your Business Systems
Here is a simple process you can use to develop your business systems – which breaks it down from a project, to actions.
- Choose just one process in your business.
- Map the process from beginning to end – flowchart how the process flows through the business. This is a high level view. It is a great way of demonstrating how each person’s role contributes to the big picture.
- Then work through the checklist that steps you through the process.
- Finally describe the process behind each step in thorough detail.
This graphic says it all…
5 Tips to Maintain your Business Systems
Once you have your business systems recorded in a HWDIH Manual, it is critical to protect and maintain that investment. Here are 5 tips to maintain your business systems:
- Systems must have teeth – there must be consequences if systems aren’t followed – inaction is effectively sanctioning the non-adherence to systems – and this is how multiple ways of doing things evolve and inefficiencies compound. Make sure that your team are following the right systems and if not, act immediately to rectify it.
- Keep it up to date,
- Communicate changes and train the team
- Make sure the team know where to find it, and
- Protect your data and your documents – back up!
Creating and documenting effective business systems is an essential part of a successful business model which is designed to serve the life of the owner and a very important part of the BUSINESS by DESIGN Program.