In a recent article we talked about how small business processes make up the systems that govern how well (or poorly) your company runs. We also touched on how to tell if your business systems are on the brink of failure.
How do you know if your business systems are efficient or not?
We can start by looking at how the processes which comprise these systems are constructed.
6 Key Elements to Writing an Efficient Business Process
Here are 6 key elements to ensure your processes are written well. The last thing you want to do when creating a new business process is make it hard for the user to understand or implement.
1. It’s Concise
Each business process description should be detailed, but also as short and concise as possible. All wording should be essential, with the goal of getting the task done.
A single business process should have no more than ten steps. If you outline all the steps and find that there are more than ten, split the task into two related tasks.
Each step is essential, but if you have a task with more than ten, it gets cumbersome.
2. It Has a Clear Writing Style
Wording of your process documentation is critical. The way you write it has a powerful impact on how your employees understand and perceive it. If wording is awkward, vague, or confusing, results won’t be consistent.
Also, when you revisit the document for revisions, it will take longer to edit and improve. Questions will have to be asked to clarify the original intent. Back-tracking is costlier than doing it right the first time.
Use everyday language that's easy for all members of your organization to understand. The tone should be informal and conversational. Write for clarity. Avoid jargon and technical terms…good advice for all business writing.
3. It Provides Context
The primary purpose of your business process documentation is, of course, to describe clearly the task at-hand. All wording and every step should be directly related to getting the job done.
Yet in preparation for the inevitable glitches, it pays to tie the task in to the big picture. Show where it fits into your overall business or what the intended result will be.
By showing the big picture, you put the task into context. This helps your employees understand how to efficiently accomplish the work when questions arise.
That way, should they have to make a decision while doing that task, they'll make the right decision if they understand where it fits in and what it's supposed to accomplish.
4. Each Task Requires Little or No Supervision
Create each business process so that it can be accomplished with little or no help from others.
The employee shouldn't need to consult with supervisors or seek the help of another staff member, unless it's absolutely necessary, or it’s an essential part of that task. Each task should be designed for one person to do themselves.
5. The Task is Teachable
Each task should be understandable and teachable. Think of your processes as a "how to" guide for accomplishing the task. Of course, you'll need to teach it to your employees.
Beyond that, one goal of small business process management is to increase your high-value workload by reducing the number of lower value tasks you perform. When you can teach one employee and have them train others on the task, you're moving in the right direction.
6. The Process Uses Multimedia When Needed
Add images, screenshots, photos, videos, or other relevant multimedia if it adds clarity. For instance, video the task step by step or use a series of captioned photos to document a task that’s hard to put into words.
Clarity and understanding is always your goal. Document your business processes so they're lean. Eliminate unnecessary information, yet provide enough to effectively communicate how it's done.
Business process management isn't just a tool for big companies.
One of the keys to creating efficient small business processes is to write them well.
A written process should be concise, clear, have proper context, require no supervision, be teachable, and use multimedia when needed.
A well-written business process is one of the most powerful tools available to you as an owner.
For more on how to create great processes in your business, go here get instant access to a free copy of Streamline and Simplify Your Business - 5 Key Steps for Creating Efficient, Powerful Business Processes.