As a company grows, there will be more people, more customers, more of everything including friction. Throwing resources at problems is going to be costly. Remember, there are more people now. The decisions that were often taken single handedly by few are now the domain of new managers who may be new to the company. People have their own interpretation of what is correct and how to do a certain thing.
It is time to focus on documented processes and workflows that will initially bring in uniformity and efficiency across the organization without undue overhead. Subsequently, these processes will bring in a level of automation to keep various functions and their corresponding data sets efficient, secure, and user friendly.
To put it another way, it is time to move from spreadsheets to CRM/ERP.
When setting up processes, think how you will automate improvisational tasks. It is better to think out of the box to make things simple, overly simple. Removing undue hierarchy will be a welcome simplification. These are the manual tasks that are repeated and consume a lot of hours.
Let’s look at some of the areas that are good candidates for processes and automation:
Sales and Customer Onboarding
Routine tasks for the Sales team should be documented with adequate staff training so that once the data is input, it should be visible as reports or action items. Using a Sales CRM is a must. Preferably, invest in a ‘funnel’ CRM that is sales oriented. Document Customer on-boarding process including escalation contacts and SLA.
Every touch with the Prospects/Leads should be a documented process that is executed and measured. Good, reliable sales data that is readily available is the key to generate more business efficiently.
Make processes for: Interaction with candidates, scheduling of interviews, feedback from the interviews, feedback to the candidate, making/sending/following up on the job offers. Use a dedicated Applicant Tracking System or a Project Management CRM and a searchable resume repository.
HR Onboarding and Exits
Make processes for obtaining/securing HR data, centralizing data repository (CRM), access control of HR data, and make policies for archiving and deleting old data as per the compliance needs. Use a simple HR application that is siloed.
Performance Review, Feedback Loops, and Appraisals
Having robust processes for performance review dampens inherent biases. It provides a framework to the Managers to hold meaningful review conversations rather than a formality that must be completed.
Have a uniform process for performance reviews that provides a framework for two-way feedback, is documented, and ensures fairness. Train the managers on how to hold effective performance reviews with documented feedback.
Regular surveys, especially anonymous surveys are a good way to get staff feedback about management. Make sure that they are truly anonymous.
Invoicing, AR/AP and accounting
Automate invoicing, make the AR/AP readily available in the visual dashboard. There are a number of good apps available that can be used for invoicing. The focus here is to use a tool that preferably does multiple functions like invoicing, managing AR/AP, and accounting.
We have way too many apps/methods to communicate internally. Here is a simple process that can be followed: ‘Apart from in person chat, a phone call, we will use email for formal internal communication. For everything else we will use this app ___ .’
What has been your journey like in creating processes that work for your growing business? Which tools are working wonders for you?