By Jerome Jacobs, author of Business Mechanics

Effective systems can save you and your team both time and money. By ‘system’, we’re not talking about computer systems and software. These systems are the ‘tasks’ that are required to run a business.

Step 1: Identify your routine processes

What are you doing on a regular basis that a lower-paid team member could be doing if it were systemised? Or is there anything in your business you hate doing and would love to hand over to someone else? This could be any task, be it admin, sales, marketing, financial or operational.

Step 2: Prioritise the processes to be systemised

In most cases, it won’t be feasible to systemise every process in the business at once. In that case, it makes sense to review the list of processes you’ve written and identify the priorities.

Step 3: Flowchart your processes

This involves identifying each major step of the processes you have documented, and in which order these tasks happen. By putting this into a flowchart diagram, you’ll see how it all fits together in a very visual way.

Don’t worry about going into too much detail at this stage, just write down the key steps.

Step 4: Document how it gets done

This is the detailed stage. Get the team member who is currently doing the job to write down every step involved in performing the task.

Step 5: Test the documented steps:

The person who’s written the steps involved in performing a task should then get a colleague to follow their instructions to see if they can do the job. If this colleague has to ask questions, the team member who initially wrote down the tasks should add these steps to the document.

The idea is that a person totally new to the job can follow the written instructions without needing extra help.

Step 6: Measure using key performance indicators (KPIs)

Typically, these KPI’s will be the top five measures that show system performance. These KPI’s will relate directly to the KPIs of the person doing that role. For example, if it’s a sales process, KPIs might include the number of leads, number of sales, average sales value, sales conversion rate and so on.

Step 7: Allow the system to change and grow.

Any systems documentation needs to be a living document. It should grow and evolve with the business. After all, things like computer programmes are always changing, so it follows that any system or process might need to change too. It’s up to you to ensure that your staff always keep the process up-to-date. Essentially, it is your responsibility to make sure that the systems are (a) being implemented, and (b) are relevant to the business.

Jerome Jacobs is an award-winning business advisor who’s helped numerous business move forward. Sometimes that means rescuing a business from the brink of financial disaster; more often it’s about helping businesses grow and expand in a sustainable, profitable way. In Business Mechanics, Jerome shares the tools so that business owners can learn these skills for themselves.

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