Do you think of business processes when you think of Dr Who’s Cybermen? Maybe not, but more importantly, do you think enough about business processes in your firm? This article talks about why you should think more about your business process and has 9 tips to understand your business processes, to help grow your firm and satisfy your clients – without losing your mind.
Dr Who and the Cybermen
Have you ever watched Dr Who? One of his arch enemies are the Cybermen. Silver metallic robots, without a soul. But they have one amazing ability that most business owners seem loathe to adopt, even though they could and that this practice could save their firm!
I was watching an episode recently (sad confession maybe) where the Doctor battled against the Cybermen and the Cyber leader got killed. Two others instantly stood there and said “Cyber Leader has been deleted, I must now take over”, and then the good bit “Download all tactical and strategy files”. He then proceeded to do just that, so they could carry on as effectively as they were before.
Business processes in your office
What would happen if you are:
- ill and can’t get into the office tomorrow ?
- ill and can’t get into the office. Then a new client calls and asks about what’s happening with his….
- out auditing for the day; a prospect calls the office to ask about when you’ll be able to…
I’m sure your firm survives things like this daily. But if your answer required your team to call you, or tell the client you’ll ring back – you should think about business processes in your office.
If a prospect is thinking about signing up and realises that you’re the only one who can help him. It doesn’t make you look better, it makes you look worse! Could each of the following be done, without reference to you?
- One of your team has prepared some work for you to review, but she isn’t sure what to do next.
- One of your team have a query on a client’s account, they’re not sure how much time has been spent on it.
- A client calls in asking where you are with their work.
Do you have business processes in place to deal with queries?
Business process mapping.
Ensuring your team can function without reference to you is essential if your firm is to grow without you going mad. You don’t need long complicated documents. I don’t do long and complex, but I do help professionals improve their firms.
9 tips for improving business processes in your small firm
It doesn’t have to take hours or involve complex diagrams. You can do something useful with thought and some time (you could even get staff to do it for you!)
There are many ways to build maps and I’d normally start very high level and then make more detailed ones in specific areas, that are parts of the larger one. Getting your team involved in some of the detailed ones can be a great exercise.
- Look at your business processes at a high level, to get an overall picture what does/ should go on.
- You might start by simply looking at processes for CREATE NEW CLIENTS, COMPLETE WORK FOR CLIENTS, GET MONEY FROM CLIENTS, REVIEW CLIENT PROFITABILITY (which of course leads back to the first step). Each of these 4 areas may then have 6-7 areas in them.
- KISS: Keep it simple stupid. Don’t produce maps that are very complicated, with long winded processes or you’ll get lost.
- Start with the business processes that (or should) add the most value for clients. That improves client service, and long term profit.
- Use a white board. Copy onto paper later.
- Use simple words, along with what the objective of each process is..
- Define the boundaries: starting / end point of the process.
- Who is involved in the different steps?
- Use consistent symbols. Don’t spend hours worrying about what “correct” symbols for things are – it’s for you and your team, nobody else.
- Something like Excel or PowerPoint is probably all you need when you’re ready to make it “official”
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How will you look at your business processes and replicate the Cyberleader’s ability and ensure your firm carries on without you managing everything.