Benchmark Business Group

Simplifying Systems

January 19, 2015

This month we've challenged you to create a system a month in 2015. It can seem overwhelming, especially as systems can get complicated, but they don't all have to be complicated. When we discuss systems most people think of the detailed action plans that are used for training purposes. The systems that are so detailed that someone with very little experience can easily follow along. Those systems are necessary in any business, but they are not the ones that get used on a day to day basis. The systems that get used on a day to day basis are typically resources or a mini-system of your full blown system. As you're working on your 2015 System Challenge, don't forget these easier to implement systems that can make a huge impact on the operation of your business.

 

Checklists - Is your staff forgetting crucial steps?  Are they skipping over their least favorite tasks in a process?  Whether the root cause is intentional (avoidance) or simple forgetfulness, it's easy to skip over steps in a complicated process, even if it's a process you repeat daily.  Too many of us rely on the power of our memory, but there's a simple answer called checklists.  If you have a checklist it's suddenly hard to avoid or forget to complete a step.  Your checklist might have accountability built into it by having employees sign it and turn it in each time.  Or you might create a reusable checklist by writing the steps in permanent marker on a small white board.  This allows the checklist to be used each time, but doesn't need to be turned in each time.

 

Customized Notepads and Forms - Having trouble getting the right information when messages or even orders are taken?  Create a customized form or notepad that is used for each process. Without clear boundaries on what information needs to be written down you're left to everyone guessing, which leads to misunderstandings. Be sure to include instructions on the form or notepad so there's never a question of what information is required and what to do with the information once it's captured. Also don't try to force too much information on to one form in order to have a multi-use form. It's better to have two clearly defined forms than it is to have one form that just doesn't capture the information the way it's needed. When designing your form, make sure you think about arranging the information based on how it's received as well as how it will be used.

 

Reminders - Perhaps one of the simplest systems there is are reminders. The more you try to remember to-do's or steps or rules the more balls there are to drop. Having a reminder system for all your to-dos is a start and can easily be done using software such as asana.com, outlook tasks, or many others. Other reminders you might need are warning stickers or labels. These could be things such as a reminder at a certain level of inventory that it's time to reorder, or a reminder that certain products have limitations, or even of rules for using certain equipment. Just know that the more you ask someone to remember, the higher the chance they will not remember.

 

Scripts - Some people love to hate scripts. The go to excuse is that scripts make your staff sound robotic. Don't get us wrong, they can, but having scripts can also be a huge asset. It's up to you to build scripts in a way that employees are able to use them easily so that they have the right answer and language, but in a way that doesn't come across as insincere.   Using bullet points of the main idea can be helpful in communicating what to say without creating robots. Another trick is to outline the script so the main points or the "why" is to the left of the language.

 

As you get started on your 2015 Systems Challenge, don't allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Yes, systemizing your business is a huge commitment, but it can be done in small steps that bring immediate results.

 

See Also:

Systems In Action
 

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