Your systems are what make your business run, and more importantly, run smoothly and efficiently. They’re the day-to-day processes that fit together to create effective methods of creating products, managing people, getting customers. sales, development, and so on.
Your business systems may be clearly written out, or they may just be your day-to-day actions that you go through without ever consciously thinking about it. Either way, they are critical to your success and profitability.
One of the highest leverage activities you could do is to carefully review your business processes and systems to see where you can improve things, and also where you can system things so that other people can replicate the processes that you go through to manage various aspects of you business.
Write Down Your Business Systems
Start by writing down your business systems for all the various components of your business operations. Common systems include management systems, marketing systems, fulfillment systems, and product creation systems.
Writing down these systems allows you to look at them objectively. When they’re just in your head, they’re hard to examine. When it’s all on paper, it becomes much easier to point to one step, and realize where it needs some work or to hash out improvements.
Use a Mindmap format (or a flowchart) to map out these systems is relatively easy and there are great tools that can help you. Some free software or websites that we have used include:
If these do not excite you, then do a Google search and you will find many more options.
What Systems Don’t Exist, But Should?
Through this process, you may also come across many systems that don’t exist yet – but should.
For example, what is your system for when a customer doesn’t receive their order? If you don’t have a system yet, your customer service people will behave differently with each missed order, which creates disorder and can leave customers dissatisfied.
Instead, map out the system and hand it off to the appropriate people. For example, the system might be first contacting fulfillment to see if it was shipped, then checking the UPS code. If something happened to the package, send it again and give the customer a $5 gift card.
The Kaizen Philosophy of Incremental Improvement
Kaizen is the Japanese philosophy of incremental improvement. It’s because of Kaizen that car companies like Toyota and Honda have overtaken American car companies. Instead of trying to make huge improvements all at once, Kaizen encourages people to make tiny incremental improvements.
This philosophy works extremely well with systems, and especially in the web or internet based world, where more often than not people have to wear more than one hat for which they may not necessarily be suited. Ask yourself and your employees: What is one small thing we could improve about this system?
For example, instead of processing each order as it comes in, you might decide to process them all at once at the end of the day. The process might save an employee 30 minutes a day.
In the grand scheme of things, small changes won’t seem all that radical. However, when you add small changes on top of small changes, you’ll very quickly find that they add up to major improvements. Take your existing systems and write them on paper. Create systems for business tasks that don’t have systems and seek to systematically improve your existing systems.