Business processes are the glue that hold your team and customers together. They’re how you deliver your product or service, and how you keep the business functioning and drive revenue.

If you want to separate yourself from the day-to-day of your company, it’s important to create business processes so you can delegate more work to your team without managing them personally. Processes offer a number of benefits.

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Free download: 8 Questions to Evaluate Your Standard Operating Procedures.

Business Processes Create a Consistent Customer Experience

No matter where you are in the world, you have a pretty good idea of what you get when you walk into a McDonald’s. Sure, the menu might be a little different, and the decor will change based on regional taste, but the premise is always the same. You can walk into any McDonald’s and have a pleasant experience because it will match your expectations.

Can you say the same about your business?

Processes create consistent experiences for your customers in two ways:

First, they ensure each customer has the same experience each time they use your service. This is important if customers buy from you repeatedly, retain you over time, or purchase a subscription service.

For instance, we charge our bookkeeping clients a simple flat fee each month. If we failed to meet one of our deliverables one month, our clients would feel like they didn’t get the value they paid for (and they’d be right).

So in order to keep our clients happy, we have to ensure we’re doing the same work every month. Processes help us avoid missing things.

Second, processes create consistent experiences across customers. If one customer brags about the value of your product/service to their friend, you want to be able to give the friend the exact same value. This is incredibly important if you (like Bean Ninjas) rely on referrals for new work.

How does a consistent experience help you grow?

  • You spend less time dealing with customer service issues.
  • Your churn is lower, which means more cash to invest in growth activities.
  • Referrals, testimonials, and reviews are more positive.

Business Process Make it Easier and Faster to Train and Promote

Business processes

Training new employees or contractors is a significant expense for most businesses. In some cases, new employees don’t create their maximum value for the business for six months or a year after hiring.

Standard operating procedures make it easy to slide new employees into your workflow as soon as you hire them. It’s faster and simpler for everyone when you can point to a document and say “Follow this procedure” rather than holding their hand through the whole process.

If you combine your SOPs with a comprehensive register (a map of all your SOPs), you can even empower employees to solve their own problems and figure out what to do next without tearing you away from growth-focused activities.

Business Processes Improve Efficiency

When you sit down to write a process, you tend to find little ways to improve how you and your team do things. This is especially true if you’re writing a process for a task your business grew into organically.

For instance, let’s say you take a close look at your email marketing program. An employee tells you they manually copy the email addresses from your lead generation tool to your email marketing tool every morning. You realize that’s a waste of your employee’s time because the lead generation tool will push those addresses to the email marketing tool with the help of a simple integration.

In this example, you found an inefficiency that saved an employee a few minutes every day. That leads to significant time savings where the employee can add value to your business in other ways.

But it wouldn’t have happened unless you looked at each step in order to create a process.

The effects of efficiency can’t be overstated:

  • More time to invest into growth-focused work.
  • More money to spend on growth tactics.
  • Less stuff in your head to worry about.

Business Processes Keep You Compliant and Secure

Business processes

Like many businesses, you probably have regulatory and security concerns that you can’t ignore. You have to protect yourself from legal liability and protect your data from theft or misuse.

These concerns can create a lot of overhead. You need people to make sure you’re obeying the law, or you have to purchase tools to keep your data safe. Processes can promote security and compliance by creating internal controls that safeguard your business.

For instance, you might add a step to a standard operating procedure to back up data. You could write an SOP for how to respond to security threats. If you have to fill out a particular form for the government, you can add that step right into an employee’s workflow so it’s never forgotten.

If you deal with any of these burdens, you’ll definitely need to include them in your SOPs if you intend to scale up.

Business Processes Create More Agility

There’s no debate that nimble businesses that can respond quickly to new conditions and information are best poised for success.

But as the owner or leader in a business, it can be hard to create real change. If you want your team to do something differently, you have to retrain them individually. If there are layers of people between you and the frontline workers, it can take ages for your company to execute your new ideas.

By documenting your processes and storing them in a central location, you can create dramatic change throughout your organization by editing a few documents.

Flexibility is important if you work in an industry where things change often. Maybe your regulatory landscape changes every month. Or maybe you juggle different vendors depending on the deals you can get. In this cases, quick changes to your SOPs can shift the way your team behaves.

This means as the leader, you can take control over every level of your business whenever you need to.

Additionally, if you have similar tasks, you can use existing SOPs as templates for new ones. Depending on the nature of your work, this could save you (the SOP writer) a lot of time.

Business Processes Increase Your Team’s Satisfaction

Business processes

A happy team and comfortable company culture are hard to measure, but any leader will tell you they have a profound impact on the organization’s ability to grow.

Satisfied employees aren’t just more pleasant to work with. They’re actually more engaged with their jobs and more productive. Plus, they tend to stay with your company longer, which means you get more value from their training.

SOPs make your team more satisfied with their jobs by putting all of their instructions and materials in one place. They can complete tasks and fulfill their function without relying heavily on their supervisors. Even though SOPs lay out their jobs clearly, they actually give your team autonomy.

Most importantly, processes create a culture of continuous improvement. With their tasks clearly documented, your team will identify places to optimize their work. If you make it clear that you’re open to their feedback, they’ll help you make their jobs more efficient.

Not sure if your standard operating procedures (SOPs) are well-designed? Ask yourself these questions to make sure they have the right qualities.

Where to Start?

The idea of documenting your entire company’s workflow may seem daunting, but you don’t have to do it all at once. Start with the places that provide the most value. For instance, smooth onboarding of new clients is critical for us, so we’ve put a lot of time and energy into our onboarding process. It allows us to move new clients into the work pipeline quickly so we can focus on finding more.

You’ll have to determine the best place to start adding processes to your business, but it’s worth the effort. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits and give your business the freedom to grow.

Fiona Fenton

Fiona Fenton

Fiona has a background in cross-border institutional finance and law and now works as a project and operations manager for online businesses.

She has travelled to 31 countries and regularly visits her Tasmanian homeland. She is an avid surfer and yogi and spends her time between the Gold Coast, Australia and Argentina.
Fiona Fenton
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