How to create a business system

Use these nine steps to create systems for every aspect of your business.

We’ve told you what a system is and we taught you how important they are, but how do you go about actually creating and implementing them?

Start by analyzing your company. Yes, you are the owner of the company – you “know” your business. But that doesn’t mean you have actually analysed it and written it all down. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does my company do in order to produce products/services?
  • What does my company do in order to market your products/services?
  • What does my company do in order to sell my products/services?
  • How does my company manage its finances?
  • What daily tasks does my company have to accomplish in order to run?

You can use these answers to create the basis for the following systems:

  • Production Systems
  • Marketing Systems
  • Sales Systems
  • Finance Systems
  • Support Systems

Once you have the bigger picture, you can sit with each System and follow the nine steps below:

  1. Specify your desired results. What do you want to achieve? What is the end goal of this system? For example, it could be “To find a new client”.
  2. Diagram your system. For the non-artistic readers, don’t panic, drawing skills are not necessary. Simply identify the steps that are necessary to achieve your desired results and create a flow chart showing each step and its dependent steps.
  3. Write out each step in clearly stated objectives. Each block in your flow chart is a work step, you need to communicate what needs to be done, how it is done and how you know you have achieved the objective. For example, on your flow char for getting a new client, you might have a step for “Make Contact” this can be detailed as “Call the person who made a website enquiry and make an appointment to meet for coffee within 2-3 days.” You now know you need to make a phone call, who you need to call and what you are calling for. Your objective is a coffee date and you know it needs to happen within 2-3 days of the phone call.
  4. Assign accountabilities. Who needs to do what. But, you are not assigning specific people, you are assigning roles. I am not going to assign calling prospective clients to “Geoff” I am going to assign the task to a “Sales Representative” This will ensure that all the sales reps know what they should be doing at which stage of a process. Systems need to be transferrable, if Geoff isn’t in today then Sally should be able to sub in without any effort.
  5. Determine timing. Tasks can’t be open-ended, otherwise they may never be completed. Each task needs a timeline and the overall project and system needs a timeframe. Timing can be specific or general.
  6. Identify necessary resources. What do you need in order to complete this task – which staff members, which materials, what information, where will you work, etc? List everything that is needed to get the job done.
  7. Determine your metrics. How do you quantify the results? How do you know the task is complete and how do you know it was successful?
  8. Establish your standards. What is the acceptable way for a task to be performed? Standards can be stated in quantity, quality and behaviour and can be measured in terms such as costs, dress codes, output or ethical standards.  What you are doing here, is telling your team what level of output you are expecting. Sales staff are expected to make a minimum of 5 sale calls a day, warehouse A is expected to produce a minimum of 1000 products per hour, management is expected to wear a suit at all times. Anything less than this standard is not good enough, anything above standard is praise-worthy.
  9. Document the system. Once the steps and metrics have been clearly defined, write it all out. Create a unified document that your staff can use as a template for achieving the desired results.
  10. Test it. Just because it all works on paper, it does not mean it’s going to work in the real world. You have to actually put the system into practice and allow for feedback. Is the process smooth? Did you forget a step? Does it all make sense? Do the metrics actually provide you with the info you need? Did you account for crises and problems? With regards to this step, it is vital to listen to your team. The people who are on the ground implementing your systems are the most qualified to tell you whether or not they work.
  11. Revise as needed. The only constant thing in life is change. Even if your systems are perfect when they are created, over time the environment will change, the needs will change, the goals will change. Schedule time for revision and put a system in place for constant team feedback.

Systems are not something that you put in place and walk away from. A good system will give you the freedom to walk away – but you do need to keep coming back and make sure that its still working. The best systems always have space to evolve.

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