The importance of great business processes

The importance of great business processesGreat processes are key to a successful business. To draw on a golfing analogy, it doesn’t matter if the weather is on your side and you’ve got the perfect club, if your swing isn’t right, you can kiss that little white ball goodbye in any direction.

Your swing is the process through which everything else falls into place. Your business processes serve the same function in your business. They are the way you do things and they alone can determine the outcome. Great business processes also go a long way in positioning your business well when it comes to time to sell.

Here’s what great business processes can do for your business:

  • They make you replaceable

And that’s a good thing. Small business owners have a tendency to do everything and be everything to their business. While this approach can work in the short term, over the long term it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

If your business relies on you, then it is not an attractive option for potential buyers. Your business needs to be able to almost run itself and for that to happen, it will need great processes. The goal is for anyone to be able to step in and take over where you left off. This means, not just having great processes but also documenting them, so they are reusable.

  • They save time and money

Remember lean thinking? That is the term used to describe the way of thinking that led to the rise of Toyota from bankrupt Japanese car maker in the early 1950s to one of the world’s most successful global automotive players today.   

Lean thinking is all about the process. It’s about streamlining and eliminating waste in the system, and it’s the waste that represents time and money. Every part of your business runs on processes and usually they just evolve. You’ll be surprised how a small change to an everyday process can yield big results if you just put a little thought into it and ask, ‘can this be done a better way?’

  • They empower people

The people in the best position to improve processes are the people using them the most, and often these are not the typical decision makers in the business. As Steve Jobs said, "Authority should be vested in the people doing the work to improve their own processes, to teach them how to measure them and to understand them. They should not have to ask permission to improve their processes."

  • They add value to your business

Potential buyers want a well-run business with strong systems and processes. This enables a smooth transition between owners, and it is also a sign that the business will be adaptable to change. Well documented business systems are are huge benefit when selling a business as they provide both a "how to" guide and a help in transfering the goodwill to the new owner.

The business system process management cycle

The business process management is a way of ensuring continuous improvement. The idea is to start with the processes that have the highest value – the ones that are most aligned with your business goals and strategy.

  1. Design
  2. Model
  3. Execute
  4. Monitor
  5. Optimise
  6. Document

Making your way through the cycle above for each process will help you understand your business’s workflow, help you to prioritise and give you visibility over the whole business. This is important because a small change in one process can cause significant disruption to a seemingly unrelated part of the business.

 

And remember, just like there’s no such thing as the perfect golf swing – there’s no one right way to do it and there’s always room for improvement. It’s about the journey, not the destination.

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