As you’re building your company, you already know that it’s important to amp up your procedures, processes, and systems. But once you have these procedures, processes, and systems in place, how do you audit them and modify them, as necessary? You want to make sure that you have a system in place for that, too, so that it doesn’t become a company-wide headache or create additional issues from being outdated.
To give you a bit of a head start, we’ve compiled our top four tried-and-true ways to monitor, control, and modify your business’ processes and systems with ease.
1. Continually look for ways to make your system foolproof.
One way to make sure that your procedures, processes, and systems are in tip-top shape is to be testing them frequently. If you’re open to modifying your systems on a more consistent basis, you’ll be making smaller tweaks more often, which means that your team will be able to learn the changes more easily. You’ll also be making changes more proactively if you’re looking for ways to modify the system and make it easier to follow.
While we think it’s important to be open to modifying your system on a regular basis, we recommend that you ‘bank’ any improvements that are not high-priority and do not need to be implemented immediately. If these improvements do not meet your parameters for being a ‘critical’ update, you can evaluate them later to see how they could be implemented and how important their implementation is. Just as your procedures, processes, and systems can become ineffective if you’re not open to changing them often enough, so you can become less efficient by changing your processes and systems too often for too little gain. By banking these improvements, you’ll be able to roll out any ‘non-critical’ updates all at once.
By making your system something everyone in your company can follow, you’ll find that long-term progress will be more easily achievable. Not only that, but your team will meet goals much more easily by staying focused on the system and working to improve it.
2. Have new employees test the procedure, process, or system.
We always recommend that businesses invite new employees to test their existing procedures, processes, and systems. Sometimes, when there’s a lack of clarity in a process or system, more tenured employees know how to work around the inefficiencies of the system (another problem that needs to be addressed) and will not always speak up if there’s a better way to do things.
However, newer employees who have been with the company 2-6 months and are familiar with the process but have never gone through it independently will be able to articulate where they get stuck, what they felt could have been explained more clearly, or where they felt they could have saved time. They may also have suggestions on how the process could be improved, even if that involves an unusual idea or two.
Keep in mind that when you’re having a newer employee test the process, that it’s wisest for it not to be a mission-critical item without substantial checks and balances.
3. Review your systems on a scheduled basis to ensure that they are producing your desired outcomes.
While we suggest that you are continually looking for ways to improve your procedures, processes, and systems, it’s also important that you review the systems thoroughly every so often to ensure that they’re still helping you and your team consistently meet your desired outcomes. Set yourself a reminder to test the process or system every 6-12 months, and when that time comes around, have a small team audit the system. This will help you make sure that your process is quality and well-designed. If there are any holes in the system, reviewing it regularly will help you identify those areas that could be improved.
During these regular audits of your processes and systems, we recommend that you review any improvements that you’ve ‘banked’ and weigh them against each other. Sometimes, these proposed improvements can conflict, so it’s important to make sure that if you’re modifying your procedure, process, or system, you’re doing so in a way that makes the most difference. You also want to see how these proposed improvements may affect any intersecting procedures, processes, and systems. It’s possible that a proposed improvement has a bit of a gain when you’re looking at the one process by itself, but it causes a severe headache when you realize how it affects other procedures, processes, and systems. By looking at your systems holistically and not independently, you will avoid that potential pitfall.
If you have multiple processes and systems that need to be reviewed, we suggest varying the schedules so that you’re not auditing all your systems at once. It will be less of a headache if you do need to modify any aspects of your procedure, process, or system because you will only be reviewing a few of them at any one time.
4. Ask a small, diverse team of employees to audit the system.
In our experience, it’s best to have a small team of 3-7 people audit your processes and systems when it’s time for them to be reviewed. It’s also ideal if that team can be diverse and come from different perspectives to ensure the feedback that you’re receiving is as comprehensive as possible.
Along with this, we suggest that one of the team members auditing the system be newer to your company, as we outline above. Having a fresh set of eyes on your audit team will help you make sure that you’re not missing opportunities to be innovative with the process or system. Likewise, having a small team review your process or system will streamline the audit and prevent too many people from giving feedback and slowing the process of modifying your system.