Most businesses have processes they follow, but these aren’t always documented. As more employees join the company, these processes can get watered down or lost completely. This has an impact on the quality of the product or service that’s being delivered.
In part four of this seven-part series, we’re looking closely at processes. Just like any area of your business, you don’t have to do everything at once – you can work on your processes one at a time.
1. Define the objectives of each process
Too many companies have processes that just don’t seem to serve any purpose. If you are asking employees to carry out tasks, then make sure there is a reason for it. Does it improve operational performance or provide a better customer experience?
Define the objectives behind each process and ensure tasks aren’t being repeated or duplicated unnecessarily.
2. Make processes efficient
Inefficient processes are almost as bad as no processes at all. If there are unnecessary steps, employees will start to cut corners or become frustrated.
Review your systems and processes. Are they as efficient and streamlined as they could be? Are there steps in the process that can be eliminated or combined with another step to speed the process up? Can some steps be automated or simplified?
3. Document processes
Verbal communication of processes isn’t enough – you need to document processes too. And these documented processes should be simple to follow and easy to access.
Documented processes ensure every employee completes tasks in the same way to the same standard, information is recorded in the same way, and new employees receive consistent training.
Flowcharts can be an excellent tool for documenting processes as they are very visual and easy to follow. You can highlight any documents or controls that need completing, and if your flowchart is digital, you can include clickable links.
For more on flowcharts, check out our article: How to create effective flowcharts.
4. Ensure effective training on processes and systems
New employees should be trained step by step on processes and systems, but their training shouldn’t stop there. Ensure that all employees receive ongoing training so they are regularly reminded of the processes and systems and kept updated with any changes.
Make documents, spreadsheets and data entry simple so that processes can be followed and systems kept up to date. Store all training materials and flowcharts where they can be easily accessed so your employees can find information when they need it.
5. Create clarity and accountability for employees
Make it clear what each employee is responsible for in their role – what data do they need to record, where and how often?
If employees know what tasks they are accountable for, then tasks are more likely to be completed correctly, and there is less ‘passing the buck’ when things aren’t done on time.
6. Make data collection and retrieval simple
If you haven’t digitalised your data yet, then it’s certainly worth considering. Paper forms and documents can easily go missing or get damaged. But digitalisation is only efficient if everyone knows where to record data and where to find it.
Make data collection and retrieval easy by having the right systems and processes in place. Streamline forms and databases so that data isn’t spread out or duplicated in multiple places.
7. Review and refine processes regularly
Things change in business, and processes can quickly go out of date. But even if they remain relevant, there is always room for improvement. That’s why your processes should be regularly reviewed, refined, adapted and improved as your business grows and evolves.
Get your teams involved. The people using the processes on a daily basis will know which steps can be made more efficient or eliminated completely. Encourage your employees to suggest ideas for improvement.
How ISO 9001 frameworks can improve processes
Not all businesses need or want ISO certification. But you don’t have to be ISO certified to benefit from ISO methodology.
ISO 9001 is focused on quality management systems, and the framework can help you clarify your processes.
By having clear and effective processes, you will ensure:
- Greater efficiency
- Reduction in errors
- More accurate forecasts and greater predictability of outcomes
- Consistent service delivery
- Higher customer satisfaction
Whether you decide to gain ISO certification or not is irrelevant. The important part is getting the systems in place that help you achieve the above.
If you’d like to find out more about how implementing ISO methodology can help you build a world-class business, with or without the certification, then get in touch.