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Your Pathway to Paradise

Have you ever been in that position where you have finally got some time to take a break and the second day into the holiday you have one of your staff on the phone wanting to know how to do this or that? Or your partner has gone off to play golf and you urgently need to know how to do something but it is all in his or her head?

We have all been in that position. It is frustrating for you and it puts off customers and clients if they can’t have their needs met promptly. The answer is a system that allows the business to run in your absence.

Systematising your procedures enables you to do things efficiently the same way every time. It saves your business time and money. It provides a backup reference for staff if you aren’t there. It adds value to your business when you want to sell it. But most importantly it gives peace of mind. So how do we put a system in place? First there are some important requirements to develop a good system. Each step in the procedure needs to be logical, effective and efficient. Each step needs to be written down so others can follow the system. It is no good leaving it in your head. If your head isn’t at work that day for any particular reason no one else can access the system. Your system also needs to work for the least qualified person that is likely to work with it.

Firstly work out what it is that you want done – for example you might want to set up a Cash Handling system. Think through the steps that you want you and your staff to go through to complete a particular task. Each step needs to be logical. It needs to naturally follow on from the previous step. It needs to be effective and that means it needs to be the right step e.g. there isn’t any point in banking the money if you are in the wrong bank. It needs to be efficient – to minimise the work, minimise the cost and maximise the return.

Keep it neat. Keep it tidy. Next write it down. First scribble down a rough list of what you want done and the order you want it done. Once you are happy with the draft put in the detail for each step. Be specific. Be brief. If a step looks a bit big or cumbersome break it down into smaller steps. Don’t miss any steps however minor they appear to you. Remember you are writing this for another and most likely less qualified person. They need to be able to easily understand it.

Next test it out. First on yourself and make any alterations you need. Then train your staff and test it on them. Incorporate their feed back. Then make the ultimate test – test it on someone who doesn’t know your business. If they can follow it you know you have an effective system.

Next run the system for a while and see how well it works. Make any improvements and test it again. Encourage staff to provide feedback and incorporate useful changes. Then file it in your Operations Manual. Your Operations Manual is the bible everyone refers to when they want to find out “How we do things around here”. But make it accessible. Make sure everyone knows where they can find the Operations Manual. It won’t be much use if it is locked in a cupboard.

Finally enforce the rules. Make sure everyone follows the system. Make it clear that you expect the system to be followed. Praise your staff when they are doing it right. Reprimand them immediately if you find them not doing it right. It may take a bit of time to put written procedures for each part of your business in place but once you have done it you are on the road to paradise!

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