Our video today will not feature the usual technical applications or google solutions. What I will share with you today are the principles behind systemising and automating your business and the secret I’ve developed over many years, and and how I approach it and apply it for any type of business.
This video includes very high level principles, that are very easy to understand and very easy to apply. If you use it and look at your business in this way, you will start to evaluate the work you do differently, and think about how you can change what you are doing.
I will help you understand the difference between systemising and automating and what they are. I will also help you understand the evolution that has been occurring in the businesses for the last few decades because of technology, and the changes that are occurring and why it is important that you get involved and start thinking about doing this for you business as well.
The Three Fundamental Areas of your Business
There are three main areas you want to look at when you are talking about your business. The work inputs, work function and the work outputs. In a traditional sense, the inputs are usually from paper, which is processed and the output is also paper in a different structure or packaged in a different way.
The Traditional Work Setting
In a typical setting, the work inputs in your business are manually processed (the work function). As the business scales, this way of performing the work function starts to compound. Let me explain …
What happens in the organically growing business is the employees doing the work (the work function) get overwhelmed by the process of accomplishing their jobs. They set it up and process the work in the best way they know how, not in the best way it can be done. You as a business owner in this model rely on the expertise of the person who is executing the work. The business is heavily “expertise-dependent” or human labour and knowledge is retained in the person’s head and has to be handed down from person to person.So what happens is when you replace the person you get varied outputs because the next person does it differently.
This reliance on human labour (and lack of systems) creates stress in the business process, which becomes symptomatically evident as stress in the people doing the work. When messy inputs are not structured properly, they stress the work function (often people) processing the information. The outputs are then similar to the inputs, and while they may look like something occurred they really are still messy outputs and not structured in a formalised way.
You can observe is that your once your work inputs are problematic, it trickles through down to the work function and your work outputs bear signs of the problems that occurred upstream. What is most interesting is that while you will be feeling those effects, it may be hard to know why this is occurring and why it is being felt in the work function. However, it does affect the people in your business and their non-structured outputs can be experienced downstream.
This unhealthy way of working creates a compounding cycle of stress in the business and in the people. As the business scales the stresses are magnified and your business is unable to cope with it’s growth. The process gets stressed, the person doing the process gets stressed and in effect the business also gets stressed. This is the challenge many businesses face.
To break it down what you are seeing is the effects of a disorganized business in a traditional work setting.
Systemising Your Business
In a systemised business, the three fundamental areas of your business are formalized and structured to improve the way the business processes interact and work. When you start structuring your inputs, employees then have more formalized information at hand to do the work (work function), thus their outputs are also more structured.
The most interesting thing here is that once you create this structured work inputs, work function and work output, you have the building blocks for systemisation. You can document what is occurring and develop a repeatable, standardised system and write it down in a knowledge base/intranet like Google Sites . Then, each time the work gets done it gets done in the same way. This gives you the ability to scale.
Systemisation allows your clients and your employees to have a better experience. The structure provides a clear guide of how information flows, how it should be processed and how it should be packaged. There is a clearer expectation of what is needed from the client (or upstream employee) at the work input stage. There is also a standard operating procedure for products or services that have quality guidelines. This allows for a good experience for all who are involved – starting from the client’s customer experience, your employees that have an framework to follow, the business owner in getting positive results, and thus more gains in profit.
Being mindful of the three aspects of your business – the work inputs, the work function and the work outputs in the micro and macro level – you can now start to systemise how your business operates. This allows you to create better products or services faster, and allows you to keep up with your growing business.
Automating Your Business
The evolution that has occurred for the past several years is the emergence of smart technology and the cloud. In cloud computing, your inputs are perfectly structured for processing into software or applications that are also in the cloud. This means the work arrives (work inputs) in the perfect non-paperless format to be processed (work function).
The work outputs are then also digitally oriented and are available through different devices. You can also plug it into another system instantly. Cloud computing allows you to largely or completely automate processes of your business.
In an automated business, you get (near) instant results. There is no more need to wait for services, or products as it guarantees results in a click of a button. In an automated setting the work input information always doesn’t need to be data entered as there might be existing data sources for the information needed (for example, already saved as part of your Google signin information).
In your work functions, everything is created using the cloud technology or with minimal effort intervention from your employees. At the same time, the end result (work output) is also formatted in a such a way that it can easily be accessible digitally in any sort of device or by another system to do more work.
Chaining Systemisation and Automation
What’s interesting is when you go into the macro level and observe the different business processes, you can look at the varied components and work out which parts to systemise and which parts to automate. And, how you can chain them together to innovate how the whole process works.
This systemised part of your business can then perhaps flow into another process that can be automated, and vice versa. Through each leg of the process you can streamline your operations by focusing on the work inputs, work function and work outputs. This allows for a smoother flow of processes and functions. If you repeat this cycle of improvement, you then create a sense of innovation and allows for your business to grow exponentially.
The Progressive Business
As you continue to focus on innovating your business, you can continue to observe and improve your processes through systemisation or automation. This continuous cycle of improvement through looking at and approaching your business in this way (evaluating your processes, systemising what you can and automating what is possible) is what makes a progressive business.
Progressive business is not just about being proactive or evolving or productive or forward-thinking through one cycle. It’s growth on growth. You are being progressive in the way you are continuously thinking about your business which allows you to scale and grow the business continually upwards through cycles of change.
The Effects of Having a Progressive Approach to Your Business
To conclude, when you continue to take this progressive approach to this business, systemising and automating where you can, your business gets to experience a compounded effect of the benefits.
Your over-all business processes become more efficient, allowing your staff to increase their productivity. Quality of work increases, and not only does your speed to accomplish chunks of work increase but also your speed-to-market and agility to adapt and explore products and services. This allows your business to increase your profit and gain more margin.
At the same time you are able to do more with less with the same number of (or less) people. When you reduce the amount of labor required, naturally your wages will also decrease. What also decreases is the stress, not only on your people symptomatically but also the stress in the work functions of the business itself. Stress on the business as it copes with it’s growth is reduced. Decrease in the inefficiencies and overhead expenses are also greatly reduced.
How Do You Start Improving Your Business
To wrap it up, what you need to focus on are the three fundamental aspects of your business. Think about the work inputs, the work function, and work outputs. See where the pain is occurring and focus on improving that specific aspects of your business. Then when it’s done, move onto the next bit and repeat the process. As you go through this process of observation, evaluation and improvement, you will then start to systemise your processes, and eventually you can also start to automate some parts of your work processes.