Business Processes

Northern Nevada’s business environment is growing and the New Year holds many opportunities for small and large businesses alike. Making the most of these opportunities, however, may prove challenging without the foresight to gauge whether your business has too much work or too few employees and resources.

Local businesses are looking for ways to streamline their operations. Where I work, a 34-employee Information Technology consulting firm, our focus is on finding ways to respond faster and more strategically to increased demands and new opportunities. As opportunities begin to mount, so too does the need for process changes and creation. Growth can be painful, maintaining a frequent and vigilant approach to strategic planning helps to avoid scenarios wherein taking on new work actually lowers employee morale and negatively effects existing clients.

End to end processes like all the steps from the sale of a product to its delivery, or in my case, onboarding new businesses and documenting their IT systems, have helped alleviate many of the growing pains we felt midway through last year. Clearly documenting the decision points and actionable steps in a workflow helps define the work necessary for each step and increases employee engagement because they actually know what steps to take while avoiding pitfalls.

One of the many detractors to operating efficiently is stretching employees too thin when the workload reaches its apex. In the past, to complete work more quickly, employees would wear multiple hats, wherein someone solving a customer’s email issue might also be ordering parts or handling shipping and receiving. As the workload grows, however, it becomes more difficult for these multitasking employees to effectively handle a constant stream of emails and phone calls. This overload can result in a decrease in efficiencies and limit your businesses ability to scale predictably.

Short of a money windfall and the ability to quickly add quality headcount your team might find themselves feeling paralyzed. A diligent approach to documenting our internal processes for everything from sales to service has enabled our team to do more, quickly and properly. This is where planning and documenting before landing that big fish really comes into play. Defined documentation helps us take action on issues that are most pressing and have the highest rate of return for the effort or money required.

In the event your organization struggles with complex processes, or a lack of processes, consider first documenting the things you already do well as a starting framework for developing processes to more effectively improve upon the things you are not doing well. To be effective, we must formally design, structure and communicate our processes from the top down. The results, if executed properly, should result in happier customers and employees.