Smarter Business Growth with Smarter Process Automation
Business growth can be a stressful time for both new and existing team members. Sustaining quality, customer service and streamlined operations through periods of growth is challenging. Things can easily go wrong. How can you avoid the wasted time and costs that arise when things fall through the cracks or do not get done correctly the first time? Smarter process automation…
Manage Growth with Documented, Automated Processes
No matter the scale, growth challenges any business team. Whether it’s the seemingly simple addition of a new team member, or a significant expansion into new markets, only with the right systems can you assure smooth, productive operations and high quality outcomes as you grow. Not surprisingly, well understood and automated processes are essential.
The business accelerator experts at ACCLR and InfoEntrepreneurs reflected on this critical stage in a business’s lifespan in their post The Challenges of Growing a Business — And How to Meet Them:
Responsibilities and tasks can be delegated as your business grows, but without solid management information systems you cannot manage effectively. The larger your business grows, the harder it is to ensure that information is shared and different functions work together effectively. Putting the right infrastructure in place is an essential part of helping your business to grow.
Documentation, policies and procedures also become increasingly important. The informality that might work with one or two employees and a handful of customers simply isn’t practical in a growing business.
So what are the means by which the standardization, documentation and automation of processes can help support the teamwork and collaboration necessary to grow the business? We will use the general example of employee onboarding to illustrate the benefits, however the concepts apply to any process.
For Example… Employee Onboarding
The time and effort spent to onboard new employees is significant. In periods of high growth, it can be a full-time job juggling multiple onboarding processes and projects. The time spent training and inducting team members is time lost from your employees’ working days — and it always takes time for new team members to get up to speed with unfamiliar processes and new job roles.
Poor, inefficient on-boarding processes not only delay getting a team member productive, the disorganization reflects badly on the company and reduces new employee morale. These first phase of new employee engagement should be designed to get the new hire up and running and doing the work they joined the company to do with a feeling of satisfaction and contribution to the business as a whole.
Often documenting onboarding processes is the first step. Simple writing down the process and procedures and sharing those with managers and others involved gets everyone on the same page. Often these documents are composed as checklists, then made available over Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft 365 for reference and use.
However, documentation and shared know-how alone falls short of the benefits of automated processes. While shared documents are a good start, the effort to coordinate the work in the processes described in those documents is high. Someone needs to be constantly scouring those documents to make sure work is moving forward and is well coordinated. Managers have to make sure no steps gets missed and have the flexibility and ability to adapt standard processes when special needs or circumstances arise.
Process Automation – the Hard Way or the Easy Way?
If you think that automating processes means getting your IT staff involved, think again. Certainly process automation is something IT departments do. However, working with IT to automate processes requires lots of planning, meetings, documents, expensive software and costly software engineers to build the solutions. Even in large businesses with IT budgets, commencing any project takes serious budget consideration.
So how can processes be automated more easily, with less effort and time, and no IT department dependencies?
Remember how you already document your processes as step by step procedures and checklists? With new “smart” technology, the content of those documents can be instantly turned into automated processes with near zero additional effort. That’s what we’ve been working on at TeamworkIQ, an online service that automatically coordinates the process steps and tasks outlined in shared documents. That means the step by step procedure you wrote up for onboarding a new employee, can be automated. Just type up who does and TeamworkIQ assigns the tasks and moves the process forward while keeping you up to date. TeamworkIQ makes sure things get done and keeps you up to date on both progress made and any issues hindering further process. It’s a time saving way to get the benefits of documented, well understood, shared process, but also automate them without additional work.
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