How You Do What You Do! (Three P’s to future proofing your success)

Posted by on Nov 30, 2011 | 0 comments

Do you ever have trouble remembering how you did something? Wouldn’t it be great to have the instructions in just the right place as a reminder?

Regardless of the business you’re in, knowing how it is you do what you do is one of the most powerful tools you have.  Yet many small organizations remain dependent upon team members’ memories as a source for their processes.  In time this method will likely fail either because the person who knows it is unavailable or the method will simply become obsolete or stagnant due to changes in the business environment.

Documenting your Processes, Procedures, and Policies will provide a clear repeatable course for your entire organization.

Processes:

We have all heard about the value of process re-engineering; the concept of improving the “how” of what you do.  But it is difficult to re-engineer a process if there is no clear understanding of the current process.

To begin the process of understanding, take the time to create a flow chart that illustrates the order in which you currently perform tasks.  Be as detailed as you can; leave nothing out – no matter how small or insignificant it might seem.  If there is a chance that something could be part of your process only under unique circumstances, you still need to include it!  Often this mapping process and the building of a flow chart, reveals inefficiencies that can immediately be addressed and improved.

It is important however to remember that processes are fluid.  They will and should change to fit the intended need.  An example is the need to involve regulatory requirements in your process even though they do not directly contribute to the end goal.  When a regulation changes (and it WILL change) make sure to include it in your process flow chart.

Procedures:

Think about the last time you tried to learn a new computer skill.  Maybe it was creating a website, or automating an online form.  You searched the web for help and found a step-by-step procedure that worked!  Then your colleague asked you how you did it.  Hopefully your response was to send them the procedure that you used or at least the URL of where you found it.  If not your time was more likely spent re-searching what you had already researched.

Procedures are developed from your mapped processes and provide repeatable steps that are easily handed to others to follow. In this instance, your results (the URL or instructions) could have been stored on a shared drive for easy access of others on your team.

Policies:

Then there’s the situation where you have a new employee that has learned a skill in another organization, but approaches it from a different methodology than commonly used in your organization.

The practice may work great for the new employee, but because they are the only one that understands their previously learned approach, it’s difficult for anyone in your organization to use or maintain.  Both approaches work – yours and theirs – but without consistency in your organization, maintaining order is difficult at best.

That’s where policies can make a difference.

Policies are developed from the processes and procedures you document.  They are the human instruction for your organization to follow.  They are generally governed by the values or goals of your organization., and they are the why, how, and when of how things are done.

The great part of the concept of the three P’s is that when issues or inefficiencies arise it is far easier to determine their cause.  Applying the three “P’s” to your organization can provide consistent repeatable efforts toward your organizational goals.

COMPLIMENTS TO OUR GUEST BLOGGER: Today’s post is compliments of guest blogger Hal Krisle, my personal partner in crime (husband), part-time business partner, and one of the best process detail guys you’ll ever meet (just ask him to review a contract for you, or build a flow chart!). Seriously, if you need contract review support, or 3P support, Hal’s your guy. You can reach him at hal@safethought.com.

Thanks to Hal for this critical reminder that effectively running a business – nonprofit or for profit – requires standardized, well-communicated business practices. 

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