18 May 2016 09:45
Getting systematic: the key to boosting productivity
If you're trying to get your business to break through to a whole new level of sales and productivity, then a critical component of that is setting up effective systems.
But in order to create powerful systems that optimise your output, it's vital to understand the three basic layers of systems.
The base layer: rules and policies
What is your company committed to and how is it moving forwards? What are its values? What are the regulations in your business? What is the culture you want to build? What is the mission you have for this particular system? What determines value in this system?
We have a document that we call the "Rules of the Game" that we use to define our purpose, our goals and our expectations, of both ourselves and our clients.
This document explains the position of employees, any legal positions, any conditions or constraints, our contracts and policies. This should form a foundation that your entire company works from.
Many solicitor firms have templates of this document that are ready for you to use and will offer them for free as a way to encourage you to work with them on an ongoing basis.
The middle layer: method
There are two aspects here - the process and the procedures.
A process is a set of logically related tasks. So you have an input and an outcome, and everything in between is a process. A process sets out how your company is going to translate your rules and policies (from the first layer) into action.
A procedure is when you step inside a process and start providing detailed instructions on how that process is done at each step. The procedures ensure that the process remains consistent in its output.
Take computer back-ups. The instruction to "back-up the company account file" is a step in the process; the procedure will be a detailed explanation of exactly how to back-up the company account file, such as where to store it and how to name it.
The top layer: tools
Your tools include all the forms, checklists, guides, templates, standard documents and so on.
For example, in McDonalds's it might be that employees need to ask, "Would you like fries with that?" with a smile. The document that explains this for the employees is the tool. Tools will also include your how-to manuals and videos.
Remember, however, that your tools are not 100% instruction manuals. Every employee will have their own way of delivering the final result. What is important is that your tools cover the systemised routine parts of the job.
Gaining leverage in your business requires these three layers; your team will then be able to follow your systems with a clarity that will ensure much smoother automation within your business, reducing the need for your constant intervention.