The Impact that a Process Can Have
Of all the attributes that a business should have, consistency is one of the big ones. Let’s say that you and two other people (we’ll call them Richard and Maurice) each paid a business for the same service. Wouldn’t you expect to get the same quality of service as Richard and Maurice? Of course you would.
This consistency can provide various benefits to different aspects of your operations, starting with your client retention rates and productivity. So, if business procedures and processes can lead to consistency, it makes sense to establish some for your business and reap some of the benefits.
These benefits include factors like:
- Improved business efficiency
- Optimized communications (both internal and external)
- Reduced operational confusion
- Increased workflow accountabilities
- Maintained positive outcomes
There are a few definite examples to back these claims up, as well. For instance, think about the modern fast food franchise, and one of the first names that likely pops into your mind.
If your mind immediately went to McDonald’s, you’re on the right track. The prominent fast food chain effectively invented the modern franchise, standardizing its processes across all locations to make the experience unmistakably consistent. As a result, the preparation of food resembles nothing so much as an assembly line - each crew member responsible for a different element.
As soon as one of the crew members starts to take an order, a screen in the back shows the order being put together. This seamless communication permits the team members in the grill to start putting an order together before it is even completed. Each employee back there has a set responsibility - whether it is proactively working to cook the meat that goes into the menu items, putting the sandwiches and burgers together, or putting on the finishing touches before packaging them and sending them out.
This process has made it possible for each customer to get exactly the meal they expect within a minute or two of completing their order, which many of these restaurants set as the expectation for their employees to keep. This process has since been emulated by all other fast food establishments and chains, making the Golden Arches the gold standard.
Now, in all likelihood, you aren’t in the fast food business yourself, and your offered services and internal goals are likely very different. However, the point still stands: businesses (including yours) can find significant value in standardizing their processes.
Devising an Effective Process
Here’s the thing: you can’t just decide that something should be done a certain way and call it a decent process.
A good process is one that demonstrates the following four features:
- It’s repeatable - If a process only works in one instance, or can only be utilized a finite number of times, it isn’t really a good process. Make sure the procedures you establish can be repeated, and are flexible enough to take different circumstances into account.
- There’s perceptible value in each step - Have you ever been given a task to complete that seems to be filled with redundant or fruitless efforts? If so, you’ll know how frustrating it is to see your effort effectively wasted, along with your valuable resources. Trim away any of these redundancies to optimize the value your process delivers.
- There’s a start and end point - Each and every process that you adopt needs to have a defined terminus a quo, or trigger, that kicks everything off - as well as a definitive end. After all, it doesn’t make sense to dive into something before knowing how deep it goes.
- It can adapt and evolve - Hopefully, your business will shift as time passes… more specifically, you will be able to make use of improved tools and resources. A side effect of this transition will include changes to your processes, which shouldn’t create any disturbances that are visible to your clients.
Automating Your Processes
While process is crucial, there is still a variable in the equation that can potentially create issues: your human staff members and the errors they make. Looking to McDonald’s once more, it doesn’t matter that the franchise has existed for well over 50 years… an employee might still forget to substitute the condiments on your McDouble with Big Mac sauce.
Keep in mind, however, your business’ consequences would likely be much bigger than having to remake a sandwich.
To cut back on the probability of such errors, businesses have embraced automated processes. This has had the added benefits of increasing efficiency and accountability, as employees who are freed from time-consuming responsibilities can devote their time to other endeavors.
There are multiple ways that you can use automation to your business’ advantage, especially with the assistance of Eclipse Integrated Systems. To learn more about automation, or any of the other ways we can support your use of technology, call us at 800-340-0505.