The main objective, when creating processes, is to create a framework that is as smooth, elegant, and as automatic as possible. To this end, it may be useful to think of processes as code and yourself as a programmer. The sum of the code you write is, thus, the software program that helps you and your team run your business. Each time you create a new process, you are writing new code. And just like code, processes can be modified to adapt to new realities.
Start Creating Business Processes Like a Programmer
1. Process Creation Begins with Writing the Code
To start, interview the person responsible for the process, or simply document your own process. Once you have the key steps, write how the process will work. For this code to be as effective as possible, it has to state:
what is done on a daily basis
who is executing the action
when and how often the action is being performed
Code must be exact, and your processes should be too. The more precise the instructions are, the better.
2. Ensure It Is Simple and Complete
Of course, the design of the code must be as simple as possible. If too much information is included, it will be clunky and hard to follow. At the same time, it is crucial not to leave out any critical bits of information. Ideally, the code will work in the hands of anybody who is tangentially familiar to the area, so it must be designed with this scenario in mind.
The idea is that your business will run smoothly, regardless of vacations, maternity leave, employee turnover, or any of the other events that can have an impact on your work and product. If necessary, a person who has basic knowledge can take over running the code, at any given point in time.
3. After it Has Been Written, Test It
Implement the code, using the parameters initially designed. If this is your first time, I recommend getting the code as complete as possible, but not staying in the design phase until everything is perfect. You risk never moving forward with the implementation, and it is far preferable to have mediocre processes than none at all.
Try them out for a week. Ask a team member who is testing the processes to give you feedback on how the processes are set up and whether they are functioning correctly. It might be a good idea to design review interviews at fixed intervals after the processes are implemented. The programmer can then go item by item to find out how the code can be improved.
If they are your own processes, it is even easier to modify the code as you find things that need to be perfected. Keep questioning your routine, until you find the best way to arrange your processes.
4. What To Do With Errors
Very likely, you will find bugs in the processes you have programmed. For example, you may find that items are duplicated in two different areas, and a person has to do the same thing twice. Another area where there may be problems is in timing: a process may be happening too often or not often enough.
You may also find that a person has too many processes in one day and has practically nothing to do on the next. It is important to look at the design as a whole and ensure that it is carefully choreographed.
Hopefully, at this point, the processes will be working smoothly. The person should now have a clear idea of what needs to be done each day, and everything is efficiently executed. The work is completed on a timely basis.
5. Processes Should Be Constantly Updated
Changes are inevitable and processes, just like software, need to be modified. How often you update them depends on the area. However, to ensure that you are performing at the highest possible level, you should continuously revise your software with relevant modifications. Examples include new documents that must now be submitted, different job responsibilities, and increases in frequency.
A semiannual evaluation can be put in place to review an area’s processes with the person responsible to add necessary modifications and ensure no unintended changes have been made. Even more effective is developing a culture of processes in your business, whereby any new development is immediately integrated. As with a software program, you want only trained programmers modifying or updating code. The revision process should be nimble, though, because there shouldn’t be unnecessary layers of bureaucracy hindering your company’s operation.
Care and Maintenance of Your Processes Will Pay Off
Like a garden, the program must be carefully tended and maintained. The better your code, the better the program running your business. Your company will, thus, continue to grow, while always improving and consistently delivering a quality work product.
This post was originally published in 2017 and has since been updated and recirculated for 2022.