Small businesses are the envy of larger companies. They’re nimble and able to adjust their marketing and customer offerings much more quickly than their larger counterparts. That said, when was the last time you audited your company’s processes, including bookkeeping, accounting, inventory, and production, and made them earn a place in your business? Maybe it’s time to reevaluate your processes.
If It Ain’t Broke…
Many businesses don’t even think to go through the exercise of a process audit. The old adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is often the prevailing sentiment. If your business is going to understand what needs to change—or even if anything needs to change—you’ll need to ask a couple of tough questions.
The first question is this: “Why do we do it this way?” Many businesses won’t ask that question because they probably already know the answer. That answer is typically, “We’ve always done it this way.” That difficult question gets a painful response. Of course, that response actually speak volumes. It can help you understand that you do, in fact, need this process audit. Times change. Technology changes. Your way of doing things may be “good,” but what if you could make it “great?” No audit may mean never knowing. You could be leaving money—or more importantly employee satisfaction—on the table.
It Was What It Was
Chances are, few of your processes exist because they’re the best option for today. They were convenient, cheap, a temporary solution or one that worked well when it was initially instituted. If that was ten years ago, then your reexamination far overdue. It’s time to do it now.
Ask questions. Don’t accept, “We’ve always done it this way…” as a response. If you ascertain that a process is outdated, ask your team for suggestions for process improvement. If you uncover an issue but the internal team doesn’t seem to have a way to change things for the better, bring in outside help. There are subject matter experts, professionals with more experience than you, and other individuals who have a different perspective on your processes that will likely prove to be quite valuable in your exercise. You could even ask your customers. They may see problems you didn’t even know existed.
Processing Feedback and Acting
Listen to the answers. Look for patterns. Do the suggestions indicate tweaks that would improve your company’s operations, or are there deeper systemic problems? Do you have the personnel to execute on what you’ve identified as the best way forward?
While it might not be an option to overhaul your company’s systems now, looking for processes that are past their prime will help you plan a more efficient future for your company. And perhaps even get buy-in for changes from your team and from your customers.
You can work miracles in your business if you embrace the fact that you may hear, “We’ve always done it this way.” Once you take the time to listen and engage the levers of change, you’ll start to respond with: “Thanks to your input, we’re changing our processes.”
At NVSI, we’ve helped numerous companies identify areas for process improvement and build programs that help evangelize new processes, engage teams, and make the exercise of tough questions and new process implementation work more smoothly. Whether your processes are personnel- or task-focused, we can be that neutral third-party observer who comes in with a fresh set of eyes, a different perspective, and experienced informed by more than 20 years in the marketplace. Click below to get help. The first step is simply to act.