What does systemizing your businessreally mean? Lots of people talk about it, and lots of people say they want it, but do they really know what it truly means? Well, in this article I’m going to break it down in terms of what it really means and then explain to you the first step that needs to happen to be well on your way to creating a streamlined, efficient business operation.
Systemizing your business is about taking an objective look at what you currently have in place, what you need to have in place to deliver on your business promises and creating a plan to bridge the gap between the two. The end result is that systemizing your business means that you have to create a logical sequences of events that fit together to form a system, and there will be many different systems in your business that all work independently, but also rely on each other of your business to function as a whole.
Think of systemizing your businessthis way: your business in itself is the “Master System” and within your master system, you are creating core subsystems which may be Marketing, Sales, Product Development, Management, Financial etc. Within each of your core subsystems, are many different processes that will link together and rely on each other to drive the performance of the overall system. So where do you even begin? The essential first step to systemizing you business is fivefold and I will cover each briefly here:
Identify where your main issues and challenges are in your business. These are you biggest pain points and likely causing you frustrating to the point of keeping you up at night. Issues and challenges tend not to be too specific and are more overarching statements.
Now you know where you main issues and challenges lie, you need to prepare a “fix-it” list of everything that isn’t working in your business. This is a more detailed list that your issues and challenges and should be as specific as possible.
This is where you’ll synthesize the information you’ve collected and “chunk it up”. Use your main issues and challenges as the headings and put the fix it items under them. By the way, its a given that in any systemization process, you will include the customer lifecycle process to see where it can be streamlined, and tis will be your priority systems for review.
Still in our current state phase, where you want to focus next is mapping out the customer lifecycle since this is the most important area and the lifeblood of your business. You want to be able to see exactly what is happening with your customers. So, start from the beginning , maybe with a customer enquiry, through to sale, through to follow up, map out with some sticky notes on a wall, the end to end process of what currently happens in sequence. Don’t worry about identifying the problem areas as this comes later and can easily distract you from getting a clear picture of where you currently are.
Next,map out the roles and responsibilities of each person in your business, including yourself as the business owner. This is essential to clearing up lines of responsibility, accountability and it can help to set expectations later on for who will do what. A good way to approach this is to think about what you do on a daily basis, weekly, fortnightly and monthly basis. If you have employees or contractors working for you, get them to map out their own role in terms what they do and any decisions they make.
You’ve now completed step one of systemizing your business. This important step of analysing the current state of your business first will set you in good stead for being clear on what you will need to focus on, and knowing where your main pain points are, having a list of everything that needs fixing, and having mapped out your customer lifecycle will set the foundation for strategic systemization. Because you’ve taken the time to identify what the problems, issues, and current reality is, you’ll be able to much more easily develop solutions that will improve your business and make it more efficient and streamlined.
1. Recognize that every business operation is a process.
A process is a series of steps, from start to finish. When you have outlined a process, you can notice inefficiencies. First, observe the process. Second, think about how to remove wasteful steps. Third, test out your idea.
2. Recognize that most business processes are conceptual.
We live in an era of knowledge management. Your main work is to organize the flow of information in and out of your business. Using technology, you can streamline how to get, store, and send out information.
3. Recognize that a systematic approach is a team effort.
A business is like a team sport. It’s not enough for the business owner to enjoy building and running processes. Everyone has to get involved for things to go well.
4. Recognize that a system is always adaptable.
Systems theory postulates that there are open systems and closed systems. An open system is adaptable to change. A closed system is set, and change is disruptive. So your business has to be flexible in its use of systems.
5. Recognize that systems themselves improve.
If your system depends on software, then the software itself may change. The software might increase its functionality. It might even be replaced by more robust software
Charles Wahome is a Product Management Consultant