A system is any process, policy, or procedure that consistently achieves the same result, regardless of who is completing the task.
Clear systems will free you from the day-to-day functioning of your organisation. Your company will run more smoothly, make profit, and provide a higher level of service – regardless of your involvement.
Any task that is performed in your business more than once can be systemized. Ideally, the tasks that are completed on a cyclical basis – daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly – should be systemized so much so that anyone can perform them.
Systems can take many forms – from manuals and instruction sheets, to signs, banners, and audio or video recordings. They don’t have to be elaborate or extensive, just provide enough information in step-by-step form to guide the person performing the task.
Systemizing your business is also a healthy way to plan for the future. You’re not going to be working forever – what happens when you retire? How will you transition your business to new ownership or management? How will you take that holiday you’ve been dreaming of?
Businesses that function without their ownership are also highly valuable to investors. Systemizing your business can position it in a favourable light for purchase, and merit a high price tag.
There are seven general areas of your business you can potentially systemize.
This is an important area of your business to systemize because administrative roles tend to see a high turnover. A series of systems will reduce training time, and keep you from explaining how the phones are to be answered each time a new receptionist joins your team.
- Opening and closing procedures
- Phone greeting
- Mail processing
- Sending couriers
- Office maintenance (watering plants, emptying recycle bins, etc.)
- Filing and paper management
- Document production
- Inventory management
- Order processing
- Making orders
This is one area of systems that you will need to keep a close eye on – but that doesn’t mean you have to do the work yourself. Financial management systems are everything from tracking credit card purchases to invoicing clients and following up on overdue accounts.
These systems will help to prevent employee theft, and allow you to always have a clear picture of your numbers. It will allow you to control purchasing, and ensure that each decision is signed-off on.
- Credit card purchase tracking
- Accounts payable
- Accounts receivable
- Bank deposits
- Tax payments
- Profit / loss statements
- Daily cash out
- Petty cash
- Employee expenses
- Commission payments
The area of communication is essential and time consuming for any business. Fax cover letters, sales letters, internal memos, reports, and newsletters are items that need to be created regularly by different people in your organization.
Most of the time, these communications aren’t much different from one to the next, yet each are created from scratch by a different person. There is a huge opportunity for systemization in this area of your business. Systemized communication ensures consistency and company differentiation.
- Internal memo template
- Fax cover template
- Letterhead template
- Team meeting agenda
- Sending faxes
- Internal emails
- Newsletter template
- Sales letter template(s)
- Meeting minutes template
- Report template
- Internal meetings
- Customer Relations
Another important area for systemization is customer relations. This includes everything the customer sees or touches in your company, as well as any interaction they might have with you or your staff members.
Establishing a customer relations system will also ensure that new staff members understand how customers are handled in your business. It will allow you to maintain a high level of customer service, without constantly reminding staff of your policies. It will also ensure that the success of your customer relations and retention does not hinge on you or any other individual salesperson.
Customer Relations Systems
- Incoming phone call script
- Outgoing phone call script
- Customer service standards
- Customer retention strategy
- Customer communications templates
- Sales process
- Sales script
- Newsletter templates
- Ongoing customer communication strategy
- Customer liaison policy
As I showed you in an earlier E-Class, your need to create systems in your business for hiring, training, and developing your employees. This will establish clear expectations for the employee, and streamline time consuming activities like recruitment.
Employees with clear expectations who work within clear structures are happier and more productive. They are motivated to achieve ‘A’ when they know they will receive ‘B’ if they do. Establishing a clear training manual will also save you and your staff the time and hassle of training each new staff member on the fly.
- Employee recruitment
- Employee retention
- Incentive and rewards program
- Regular employee reviews
- Employee feedback structure
- Staff uniforms or dress code
- Employee training
- Ongoing training and professional development
- Job descriptions and role profiles
This is likely an area in which you spend a large part of your time. You focus on generating new leads and getting more people to call you or walk through your doors. These efforts can be systemized and delegated to other staff members.
Use the information in this program to create simple systems for your basic promotional efforts. Any one of your staff should be able to pick up a marketing manual and implement a successful direct mail campaign or place a purposeful advertisement.
- Referral program
- Customer retention program
- Regular promotions
- Marketing calendar
- Enquiries management
- Regular advertisements
- Advertisement creation system
- Direct mail system
- Sales procedures
- Lead management
While we like to think we operate a paperless office, often the opposite is true. Your business needs to have clear systems for managing paper and electronic information to ensure that information is protected, easily accessed, and only kept when necessary.
Data management systems help you keep your office organized. Everyone knows where information is to be stored, and how it is to be handled, which prevents big stacks of paper with no place to go.
Ensure that within your data management systems you include a data backup system. That way, if anything happens to you server or computer software, your data – and potentially your business – is protected.
Data Management Systems
- IT Management
- Data backup
- Computer repairs
- Electronic information storage
- Client file system
- Project file system
- Point of sale system
- Financial data management
some reworking. If you have previously established some systems, now is a good time to check-in and evaluate how well they are functioning.
Use your notepad to create a list of systems that currently exist in your business. If you do not have any systems in place, this is a good time to brainstorm some systems your business may need.
Think about repetitive tasks that you and your managers undertake regularly, or tasks that you have been putting off training others to do.
Start by taking 2 or 3 processes and writing simple systems for them.