How Important are Your Business Processes?

There are many aspects to business, and I am not about to suggest that the process is the most important part, but it is vital we get it right. Many people don’t even realise what their process is, let alone acknowledge how important it is. I will take this opportunity to illustrate processes and let you decide what yours is and how important it is to you.

When a person decides to start a business, it is most often because they have a passion doing what the business is set up to do, not because they are business-minded people. I set up my business because I have a passion for using Excel to help other business owners, not because I am necessarily a business person. Often, you can get by without processes, when the business is small. You can rely on your instincts, and just do what you need to do, as you have always done. When your business expands, and you need to employ others, this becomes an issue. What do you do? How do you do it? How should others do it? What is the correct way to do what needs to be done? This is a process.

I once worked for a business, and we were asked to write down everything that we did, and the best way to do it. It is not as easy as it sounds. Processes are vitally important, especially the larger your business gets, otherwise no one has a game plan. When you have various staff, you need everyone to be on the same mission, and you need to know what is being done. I’m not talking about giving your staff ‘scripts’, like the people on the phone when you call some service centres, but I am saying that you need to make sure that your staff is organised.

This is where I get involved with spreadsheets. This is where they become very valuable. Not only setting up a structure to guide your staff through the process, but then capturing the data from the process and analysing it as you go along. Allow me to illustrate this with a simple example.

Let’s say that you are getting many phone calls every day, from potential clients, which take up too much of your time. Although this sounds good, many of them are not suitable, as you are looking for a specific client. You then go and hire someone to take these calls and write down what the callers have to say, so that you can contact the suitable ones. Option 1 is that you hand them a blank pad of paper and the phone. They do not have your experience, so how will they know what questions to ask, what information to get? Sadly, this is what so many people do. Option 2 is then to get a special pad of paper made up, with various columns, showing the new employee exactly what information they need to collect. This means that not only is the person more organised and efficient, but the information that they give to you is more accurate and complete. This is a very simple example of a process. These exist in just about every business activity. Now let’s say that you took this example to the next level (option 3) and got a spreadsheet or some business software. Now the new person can type the call details into the system as opposed to writing it down. Other than being neater, you can then do more with that data. How many calls were coming in per day? What percentage were successful? Which months were busier? What was your success rate from calls to business? Yes, you could work this out manually with a calculator, but a custom made spreadsheet can do it automatically, as you go along.

Now, what are your processes? Have you thought about them? Take a look at what you do and decide on the best way of doing it. If you have a clear process and procedure written down, it will prevent aspects being missed or forgotten, it will work as a check list of sorts. Once you have this process nailed down, the next step is to get yourself and your staff following the process. I don’t care how good a process is, if you don’t follow it, you may as well not have it. Once you have a process and everyone is following it, do you know what is being done? Is your data being properly analysed? If you have business software to track your process and analyse your data, then you are one step ahead. I use Excel to create all of my business processes, it is versatile, and extremely useful. This is why I started Spreadsheet Solutions, to give businesses this same advantage, however large they are.

I hope that this has made you think about your processes, and that it inspires you to get things tightened up. If you are interested in spreadsheets to help you with this process, please take a look at what we offer.

All the best in getting more organised!

Richard Sumner

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