January 20, 2011

Business Processes - Evaluate What's Working And What's Not

Have you ever been so caught up in what you're doing in your business that your actually wondering if it is even working? I know I have. That seems to be the joy of small business. You're constantly giving attention here and there, attending to this while trying to prevent that, basically fire-fighting all the time and as a result things are never really completed or achieved as you would have hoped, and results are sketchy at best.

Well, over the years from working with many different companies, where I have been involved in implementing software, upgrading web technology, or even just overhauling major business processes, I have realised that the same fundamentals that are used to determine if something is working or not can be applied to small business. And I'm not just talking about from a project sense. I'm talking about everyday operations and transaction that you do (or that your people do) in your business to keep it ticking over.

As with everything in your business, it all comes down to simple process to really detect what is working and what is not, what you need to be giving more energy to, and what really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Its a two phased approach. The first phase is where you actually need to identify what your core business processes are. These are the ones that are fundamental in the ongoing operation and viability of your business, without which your business would not survive. Once you have identified your core business processes for each one you need to ask "What do I expect should happen as a result of this process".

Following this, the next question you should ask is "Is what's really happening what I expected should happen". It all comes down to what you expect to happen versus what is actually happen and the difference between the two will help you decide whether or not that business process is actually working.

With the first part of this exercise, its a really good idea to involve the people who carry out the business processes you're trying to evaluate because they will have an insider's take on any peculiarities and anomalies that might not be so obvious from an outside looking in perspective. But after all this, after you have identified your core business processes, worked out what you expected "should" happen and what is "actually happening in reality", you're left with a list of your core processes that are probably working OK and a list of core processes that are just nor living up to your expectations.

The second phase of this evaluation process is where you need to determine if you actually need these core processes. It will take an investment of time and energy to improve tem so you want to be sure you will see a return on your investment. So, from here, your should take your two lists - the core processes that are working OK and those that are not meeting your expectations and start with the list of processes that are working OK.

Take one process at a time and ask "Will the continual execution of this process on a regular basis get me closer to my purpose and the ideal vision I have for my business" If your answer is a resounding "Yes", then this is a process to keep. If your answer is a resounding "No", then eliminate the process. Do the same now for your list of core processes that are not currently meeting your expectations with the outcome for each being either to "keep the process and work to improve it immediately" or to "eliminate the process immediately because it does not contribute to the growth of your business"

Once you understand this basic formula for evaluating what is working and what is not working in your business you will be able to quickly and easily determine what is adding value to your business, versus what is taking value out because it is not contributing to your overall goals.

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