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Getting your Business Processes in Line

13 Mar, 2019 McKell Naegle

I can assure you that when I set out to write a blog about processes, I didn’t want to start out with a bunch of business mumbo-jumbo. But it turns out, that’s how I’m going to start anyway because we need to start somewhere.

So what is a process? A business process is a frequently used term to basically describe a series of steps performed by a group of people to achieve a goal. Seems pretty simple, right? Turns out, that’s not the case.

What’s the point, you might ask? Processes are like the glue that holds everything together. They help streamline activities, improve efficiency, identify what tasks are most important, make sure no steps are missed, simplify communications between people or departments, ensure accountability, use resources optimally, keep your company from erupting into pure chaos… need I say more?

As you might be able to guess by this point, we think processes are pretty important. One of our goals here at Fluid for Q1 has been to evaluate our processes and see how we can improve and continue to make sure that we have the best plans possible. Through our research and examination, we have noticed three fundamental pieces of the processes that we wanted to focus on improving: simplification, education and accountability.

As you might be able to guess by this point, we think processes are pretty important. One of our goals here at Fluid for Q1 has been to evaluate our processes and see how we can improve and continue to make sure that we have the best plans possible. Through our research and examination, we have noticed three fundamental pieces of the processes that we wanted to focus on improving: simplification, education and accountability.

Simplification

First is simplification. As we have been re-evaluating our processes, we discovered that they were too complex. We had too many of them and employees were getting confused on which ones to use and when. They were forgetting them all together and didn’t immediately know what to do.

So our first step has been to simplify our processes, and we have focused on building an overarching process that can be applied to nearly any project we work on. Sure, it may need to be adapted or adjusted slightly for different projects. But for the most part, the steps remain the same. We have then broken out more details for each department. Therefore, when someone has a question, they can look at their individual team’s details instead of having to search through several others to find what they need.

Having simple processes is essential in helping employees who are overwhelmed with the increasingly complexity of their work life. Complex work processes also slow productivity and increase the potential for mistakes – both of which we’re trying to avoid.

Education

The next step we are working to improve is education. Who can follow the process if they don’t know what it is, right? Every business needs to ensure that they have training set up for new employees to prepare them properly on the business’s processes. Not only does there need to be training for new employees, but current employees also need to be reminded of the processes, because they may tend to slip overtime.

One key factor in this is having the processes easy to find. If no one knows where to look to find the process (or a step they may have forgotten), they will bag it and not follow it at all. Consider having a booklet, poster, infographic, etc. that every employee can easily access in order to find the answers to their questions.

Accountability

The last step is accountability. Like I said above, when processes aren’t followed, your company can turn into chaos. So it’s important to make sure everyone is following them. Employees need to be honest and responsible for following the process outlined by the company. If they aren’t, they need to know. Maybe even discipline if necessary, or maybe there is a reward for those who do follow the process.

Having a process can help with accountability, as it gives employees ownership over certain tasks. If you define who is responsible for which tasks or projects, it is harder for employees to believe that someone else is responsible or will handle it or take the blame. By assigning set duties, you turn your tasks into something much more clear-cut. This also makes it easier to see where the process is breaking down and not being followed.

 

While these steps may not solve all your business processes problems, we think that they are a good start. Keep in mind that processes need to continually be evaluated and updated as your company grows and develops. But if you make sure they’re simple, everyone is educated and all employees are accountable for their responsibilities, we’d bet that you’re in pretty good shape.

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