phases of becoming a butterfly on display
PHOTO: Suzanne D. Williams

Hiring talented people is how you typically get a business off the ground. Businesses in fast-moving technical fields, like design, development or marketing, usually rely even more on raw talent. What often happens is these companies hire the best people possible and throw tons of money at them. The new employee might get a week or two of training (if they’re lucky) and then they’re largely free to figure things out on the fly.

Obviously, this isn’t a good approach for either party. You only need to look at the average tenure and churn rates at such companies to see why.

The Types of Processes Business Professionals Need

You need better systems and processes to grow your company quickly. But having one standard set of processes for everyone in your organization isn't going to fly. Instead, you need to get these people to understand how your organization makes decisions and why people should (or shouldn’t) do things a certain way.

The classic tactical step-by-step standing operating procedures (SOPs) are still critical. However, they’re also going to change every few weeks or months when a new Google Analytics user interface comes out or when a Facebook ad tactic stops working, etc. The only thing you know for sure is that how you do something today will change by next year. So processes for business pros can’t be held in static, legacy printed binders.

Instead, they need to be stored inside easy to access tools like Asana, Trello and others. That way, when — not if — things change, you can simply reshoot a five-minute video and replace one single step in the overall process. You can do this on a weekly basis, constantly iterating and updating tiny sub-tasks, to avoid the kind of disruption an entire playbook overhaul might create.

Related Article: Why Process Improvement Is Key to Your Organization's Success

How Processes Can Improve Your ROI

Companies often take shortcuts when building systems because it’s faster and easier to just do the work, as opposed to stopping to document it at the same time. However, done correctly, processes don’t just give you a double return on time, but more like 10 or 100 time return.

Processes will help your team deliver work more consistently, which is especially important in agency or service companies that might have multiple people working together on the same account. Processes also increase speed. Best practices in technology might only last a year or so at the most, so the teams that can evolve the quickest and ship the most features or campaigns win the day.

These teams also get the added bonus of greater delegation. Processes don’t just help talented staff turn infrequent tasks into mechanical efficiency, they also allow them to offload routine deliverables to cheaper labor so they can ship twice as much, twice as fast, without any substantial cost increase. In that same vein, processes make your company less reliant on talented professionals. Yes, they’re important, but someday, they’ll probably leave your company. Processes can help make these people more easily replaceable so that you’re not handcuffed to only hiring “the rockstar” or meeting their crazy demands when another offer rolls in. 

Last but not least, processes can help you avoid the big, company-killing mistakes that can bring everything down around you. Look no further than the recent controversy where Facebook admitted storing user passwords in a plain text file. If people knew why user security was important, what the expectation for security is across the organization, where and how that kind of information should be stored, then none of this would have happened.

People aren’t intentionally lazy, they’re just incredibly busy. Anyone in a fast-moving company can understand that, but if there’s no proactive process in place to hold people accountable, you’re left with the kind of chaos that can waste time, squander money and sabotage consumer trust.

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