The Power of Process

Have you ever considered how you go about making your cup of coffee or tea in the morning? What do you do first, stick the kettle on while reaching out for your favourite tea or do you reach out for your favourite cup before then? Do you add either milk or sugar? If so, in what quantities and at what stage – before or after pouring either coffee or tea in your cup? Have you got your favourite brand that tastes like no other?

Whether you know it or not, you are following a process which ensures consistency of the comforting or rejuvenating morning experience.

By following a precise sequence of steps and using tested ingredients you know exactly what you are going to get! Plus, you are not wasting any time having to think about what to do next or how to go about it. Can the same be said about your business processes or do you ever catch yourself for example trying to work out who was the client that you recently wrote to, so that you can copy a paragraph you recall being amazing?

A process is simply a framework

A series of actions or steps that when followed create a consistent and replicable outcome. Good processes (when followed) create time savings, increase profitability, and provide organisational clarity.  If you want to run a successful business that delivers an excellent client experiences in a timely manner, a business that is scalable, and profitable, you need a good framework in place.

Despite numerous benefits that come from following robust processes many advisers and business owners often put up a good fight against embracing this way of working.

Some individuals fear that processes could stifle their personalities and result in impersonal client experiences. In fact, the idea is to systemise 90% of what you do (by having a process in place), which in turn ensures that you have the time to customise the remaining 10% that truly matters.

Processes should provide clarity on six simple questions

At every step of the way ask:

  1. What? (task/activity)
  2. Why? (reason/purpose)
  3. Who? (accountability/ role & responsibility)
  4. How? (tools & templates)
  5. When? (specific timeframes/turnaround times)
  6. Where? (location).

In addition to creating consistent outcomes, this way of working empowers teams to take responsibility for their roles and creates happier working environments. Do not underestimate the power of simply having clarity on who does what, how and when on a team’s ability to do a great job while having confidence in their own abilities!

Have clarity

Before working on the detail of any documented process it is important to have clarity on the bigger picture first. Lack of clarity at this level creates issues for more detailed work.

If you lack clarity on the client experience that you are looking to create and or the service proposition that you wish to deliver, it is not a good idea to start mapping the details of your client journey process first.

It is equally important to consider your goals & objectives for the process from the outset. For example, are you aiming for simplicity, clarity, efficiency, and consistency or are scalability, elimination of re-work, increased accuracy, reduced delivery time, and service excellence at the top of your list?

Having these objectives in place to begin with, will provide you with an anchor for decision making.

Some questions to consider when creating your framework for success:

  • What are you trying to achieve by having this process in place? (goals & objectives)
  • Are the answers to the above questions aligned with the needs and preferences of your audience?
  • What works well in the existing process?
  • What needs improving?  
  • Who is involved in the delivery of the different stages and tasks of your process? Are these the right individuals for the tasks? Is this the best allocation of resources? (i.e. the optimal use of their time, expertise and skills)
  • What tasks/parts of the process are completed in-house and what is outsourced? Is this working?
  • What could you do to further streamline your existing process?
  • What are the complexities in the current process?
  • What are the most repetitive tasks in your process?
  • How often is the data double-entered – is it necessary? Is there a way around it?
  • Is it likely that the process will result in re-work of any of the tasks? If so, can you eliminate the need for re-work?

When considering these questions it is important to involve the team, as it is often the individuals who engage in client serving and administration that are best placed to identify the most repetitive tasks, areas of re-work, or double-entry of data. Plus, it creates early engagement with potential changes that may be ahead.

Never underestimate the power of process in creating a successful and robust business that people love working with and for! What is your winning sequence?

Top tips:

  • Systemise 90% of the process so you can customise the remaining 10% that truly matters.
  • Prioritise automatisation of the most repetitive tasks to eliminate potential for errors, save hours of cumulative time, and create consistent outcomes.
  • Apply a simple 80/20 rule and document 20% that truly matters. If you were to document 100% of your process it would make the document unworkable.
  • Keep things simple by sticking to the process and not making exceptions!