Since procedures are quite a handy tool for organizations of all sizes, we have decided to help you introduce them to your workflow (in case you don't have them already).
For a start, we will try to give answers to two simple questions:
- what are procedures?
- why do you need them?
What are procedures?
People who are working in small companies or startups often have an illusion that procedures are something that only big corporations use. They believe that they don’t need procedures at all. But, they are wrong. Procedures are not something that big companies use to bother their employees; procedures are simple guidelines that can help people get the job done.
Procedures have a few aspects that you can consider, and all of them are quite useful to all kinds of companies:
1. A procedure is a plan of action for your team. It is a road map that will prevent them from wandering around or getting lost while trying to reach the goal. By using procedures in a company, you are promoting good practices and giving good examples. In this way, you are helping your team to understand what is a desirable pattern of behavior in a particular situation.
For example, If you have a step by step guide on how to act in a case of "a client emergency", you should be able to prevent a disaster from happening. When a customer has a problem (she has just run into an annoying bug) the team should follow the procedure for bug reporting and try to calm down the customer and apologize the best they can.
2. Procedures help you implement a particular policy. When you wish to implement a new policy (onboarding new team members policy, for example) you need to define a set of actions that will help you do that. Procedures are a great asset for such an endeavor. It will help you to create concrete steps and recommended activities that your team should take.
3. Well-defined procedures protect you from becoming a micromanager. By using well-written, explicit and uncomplicated procedures, you, as a company manager, can run different operations without always worrying about the working process. While following fixed guidelines, the team will do their job without you breathing down their neck. You can use that time to focus on more important things, such as end results, and avoid growing into a control freak.
Why do you need procedures?
Ask yourself a simple question: "Do you want your company to grow?". If the answer is "Yes!" start implementing some business processes right away.
In the beginning, there are only a few people on a team (all of them are probably co-founders of the company). During this period, it is quite easy to figure out how to resolve an issue and how to act in a particular situation. But, as soon as you start having employees, things can get a bit more complicated. At this point, you will run into a day to day operations that require consistency. It is a good time to start making some procedures. Unfortunately, most of us are delaying this task, and we are not creating procedures until we are forced to do that.
Here is the list of reasons that could point you out that it is time to start writing things down. Please read them like this "I need procedures because:"
- the number of accidents and failure rate related to a task is very high, and it becomes critical;
- employees are asking the same question, and there is a general confusion about resolving the issue;
- the same problem gets solved in a few different ways, and none of them gives satisfying results;
- the team is under a lot of stress when they need to work on a complicated task that is quite difficult for them;
- you are getting constant complaints from customers about a particular matter;
- the process is quite long and complicated, and one mistake can cost you a lot of money;
- you have to start implementing SOP (standard operating procedures) in your everyday routine;
- in some cases, it is crucial to follow rules and regulations strictly, and mistakes can be very costly;
- some tasks require a specific type of documentation.
If you can recognize a scene from your company in at least one of these scenarios, it is a good time for you to get yourself a BlogIn account and start writing some procedures. It will help you and your team to become more confident and efficient than you are now.
Procedures are like an icing on a cupcake - everyone likes it, it gives that specific flavor to a cupcake, and it looks great. But, most of us hate making it. On the other hand, if we put just a little bit of extra effort to make the icing when baking cupcakes, we feel fantastic, and our cakes are getting a whole new look and taste.
The same rule applies to companies - the ones who are willing to make extra efforts are the ones who are growing. Be the one who grows and use procedures to make everyone’s work easier.