You stand back, and look at the number of things to keep track of while trying to make your business as efficient and profitable as possible. There are employees, processes, customers, finances, marketing, and products to keep track of in terms of where they are, statuses, progress, qualities, etc. Not to mention problems, growth and innovation… How do you keep it all straight? How do you maximize profit?
Become an expert at creating systems.
Systems for operational efficiency, employees, yourself and your company to work by.
Become an expert at creating systems… for operational efficiency, employees, yourself and your company to work by.
The last company I built was quite complicated; actually, it was 2 companies in one – a mining company and a manufacturing company, both with lots of moving parts. One of the most important things that contributed to my success was that I wanted to, needed to, and for the most part – did – know everything that was going on in my company.
As an owner, this empowered me. This information gave me a constant picture of how the company was doing and what areas were struggling and what areas were performing well. It also gave me the opportunity to react quickly to changing business situations, seize opportunities, put fires out, and most of all support my people.
If there was an area that I didn’t know the status about or didn’t understand how it operated, I would not be able to help that area, direct the next moves, fix a process or problem, or support the one person or team doing the job. But by having a clear picture of the present and thinking through what makes it work efficiently, you are able to control the result and leverage your time – 2 main ingredients needed to run a successful business.
The way to do this is to create systems to work by. Every time I would see a process, I would see a system – and build it so it integrated into my business. It was automatic. I turned everything into a system. If something was too small for its own system, I would make it part of a larger system. Systems not only made things flow efficiently, but they provided valuable information within a fraction of time it took to sort things out otherwise, therefore helping me keep informed about all aspects of my business – quickly.
I would integrate whatever type of technology that would fit, into the system. The faster and more accurate the information flows, the more you know and can make decisions.
Many people don’t think they have the time to build a system as they feel it takes too much time away from other things. But it’s been proven that the time savings by creating a system to work by will catch up to and surpass whatever time it took to build the system to begin with. This is one of the most difficult things for managers and owners to grasp and make the time for.
It’s not what we think about, but how we think about it.
Let’s think about an area of a business in terms of a system. It’s not just thinking about making a product or performing a service – it’s thinking through step 1, step 2, step 3 and so on…and being able to articulate those steps and their details in an organized way. There are a lot of repetitive processes in business – probably more that we realize. One of the best things we can do for those processes, the people involved and the company, is to take the time to create and organize the details of the process – the system.
For the system to be culturally accepted and effective, it is important to involve the employees that will be working within the system. By doing so, they are being groomed to be “system thinkers” themselves, they buy into the idea more, see the support and will try to make the system better as they dive in because they now know their opinion is valued. Plus, the employee involvement is critical as the employee knows already so much about doing their job.
Think about the part of the company that performs a certain function in terms of the macro process that takes it from point a to point b. Within this macro system, there are many micro systems.
Tony is making widgets and it’s a 10-part process to make them. It’s pretty easy to see all 10 processes – but within all the processes, there are many subsystems such as how the widgets are put through each process.
- How are widgets fed into the process?
- How are they handled?
- Is the material organized in a proper flow, as opposed to moving it around unnecessarily?
- How is waste, if any, handled?
- What system does he use for quality control?
- How do the widgets get packaged?
- How does the production information get measured, recorded and conveyed to management?
Jennifer goes on a sales call…
- How does she approach the client?
- What does she say?
- How much time does she spend?
- What materials does she bring and how does she present them?
- What are some of the most important pieces of information she conveys to the client?
- How does she plan to follow up?
- How does this information get measured, recorded and relayed to her boss?
Tina is developing a marketing plan…
- What products are being marketed?
- Who is the target audience?
- What is the best way to reach them?
- How will contacts be managed?
- What is the follow up procedure?
- How are the results measured, recorded and transmitted to her boss?
In all cases above, the information that the owner would get from having systems would be critical to running their business. Whenever my company would start a project or a job, before we started, I would devise a system on how the project, or area would be run. Some of the key questions I would ask myself before creating the system were:
- Would the system help the employee do their job easier and more efficiently?
- Would the information/material flow smoothly to the necessary parties?
- Would the system help keep things organized?
- Would it help accomplish tasks in a way that was in the best interest of the company?
- Would the system be able to make adjustments and react quickly to changing business situations and customer demands?
- Would the system be transparent so the manager or myself could step into the process and see where they were at any given point and if they needed any help?
- Would the system help me leverage my time?
- Would the system track progress and make it easier to exercise accountability?
- Would the systems help the company achieve a dependable, predictable result
- How does the system involve the employees in the process, as they would have valuable input? Will it help them focus on getting the job done, and not have to worry about the details involved with efficiency or the system for transfer of information?
- Would the system move the company in the direction of making money?
This systematic way of thinking can be used in any industry, anywhere. It’s a way of thinking that helps the owner, manager, team leader and employees keep track of parts of the business that they are responsible for.
An important part of systems thinking is the mindset that it creates. As businesses and their employees get used to working by, and in systems, they begin to see the benefit of them. It becomes easy to recognize their organizational qualities, which relieves stress and lets people be more productive while drastically cutting down on mistakes. With thinking about business with systems in mind, the use of systems becomes a way of business life and part of the culture of the company.
In order to be competitive in today’s fast moving business environment, companies have to be as streamlined as possible and gain whatever advantages they can. A company that focuses on systems is a company that makes money.
© Robert Bellospirito 2019.
Robert Bellospirito has successfully built, run and exited 3 companies in 4 different industries. He has employed over 800 people directly, and his companies consistently outperformed their industries.