Streetwise: Don’t Let Your Company Suffer From a Lack of Repeatability
From our friends at Eure Consulting:
As a company grows there are more employees, more projects, more clients, and more complexity to deal with. It is vital that effective project management processes are in place to ensure that order reigns in all that chaos. Are you able to effectively repeat the sales process or the client on-boarding process? Do you know if a project is behind schedule or over budget?
A business that doesn’t take the time needed to create a project management structure can quickly lose profitability. The time, money, and energy lost to an inefficient system can add up faster than you can even say project management. A little here, a little there, without you really noticing until it’s too late.
If, however, you have a solid project management plan in place, you’ll better be able to track the project through each stage of completion and understand the key health metrics of it. You’ll know how it’s faring compared to its budget, or whether or not the work is being done according to deadlines.
Great project management is all about having defined processes for every aspect of the project.
That is the biggest advantage of a good project management system. It allows you and your company to repeat the process with similar outcomes each time. No, not every project is exactly the same. But projects tend to have a similar enough structure that you’ll be able to use the same system for the majority of projects. You won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you get new work. And you’ll better be able to forecast the costs and deadlines for the project as well.
Realistically, this applies to every project in your company.
Even the projects that are just internal. If you’re only good at managing projects for clients, you’re still losing money and efficiency on your internal initiatives. Just like with project management, you need to document every step of your company’s main functions in a way that makes them repeatable by anyone.
Let’s use your HR process as an example. Most would consider hiring a new staff member would as an internal project. Given that it does not require interactions with your clients to complete. You might not think about ensuring that you repeat your hiring process the same way every time because you don’t have a deliverable due to a client. But not placing the same amount of focus on perfecting the hiring process as you do your client delivery process is a huge mistake.
As a leader, hiring well is one of the most important aspects of your job. And you need to create a process that everyone in the company can follow. A process that is repeatable. That continuity of process will ensure that your company makes a great hire with or without you being present. The same can be said for every process in your company.
A company holds no real value if it can’t run without the CEO.
Creating a sustainable, well-run company means creating a company that functions completely by predetermined processes. Basically, your company should run like a franchise. People should know exactly what to do in each situation, even if they are new to that particular process.
This means capturing all of your company’s core processes in one place. You should write each process with enough detail that any new employee can understand how to jump right in and be effective. But you don’t need to go into such detail that it takes you 3 years to capture everything. Just get the basics down.
You can use numbered lists or checklists or flow charts, whatever you and your staff find to be the most effective. The goal is to capture the major steps in each process and present them in a way that is easy to understand and follow.
Once you’ve defined and written all your processes, train everyone on their use.
You should train everyone at the company on the processes that they interact with on a regular basis. And even if they don’t regularly interact with a process, they should at least know where to find the information needed to follow the process on occasion.
Training everyone also means holding them accountable when they don’t follow the process. Having set procedures alone is not enough to ensure that everyone follows them. There must be consequences for non-compliance. People should know that you are paying attention and will speak to them if necessary. That’s how you truly embed the process into the company.
Revisit these defined processes on a regular basis.
Now that you’ve defined and implemented these great new processes into your company, you can’t just set them and forget them. Sometimes processes break. Or they may get clunky over time. Don’t be afraid to examine each process every now and then to make sure that it is still functioning optimally. Don’t get too attached to these processes and get stuck in a rut.
When you get too attached to a process or defensive of it, you set your company up to stall out. Growth naturally brings change and that means a change in the way that you do things. This is an important thought to keep in mind, both for yourself and your employees. Don’t let them get too comfortable with certain processes either. By building in a mandatory review of each process on an annual or biannual basis everyone will know that there are no processes that are exempt from improvement.
Running a great company means creating a company that runs without you.
I mean no disrespect, but it’s true. If you want to run a company where you are the hub of the wheel, by all means, go ahead. But you’ll be miserable, your staff will be miserable, and your company won’t be able to continue growing. And you will limit the value of the company.
Instead, set your company up for success by clearly defining all of your company’s main processes so that anyone can work through them. Making every process repeatable and scalable means that your employees will know exactly what to do and when. They’ll know how to get everything done at your company even if it’s not their normal role. This means they’ll able to work more efficiently and effectively no matter what.
Not only will your company run more efficiently, but you’ll now be able to spend more time doing things that interest you. Instead of teaching people how to do their work, you can focus on passion projects, or your golf game, or go on vacation. Whatever you want to do because you won’t have to be in the office every day in order for your company to keep growing.