Make sure each system you develop contains the following ten elements:
1. The name and purpose of the specific system. Write a clear, concise statement of the result the system is intended to accomplish and give the system a brief, descriptive name. For example, the sales system should produce X number of prospects and sales per month.
2. A diagram of the system. The system should be presented in a diagram showing the sequence of steps and how they relate to each other.
3. Each step described in a series of clear benchmarks. Identify each action in sequence to create benchmarks that make the process clear and unmistakable to anyone who performs the work.
4. Assigned accountabilities. Accountability must be assigned for each step and for the overall system. Accountability should be identified by position, not by person. People come and go, accountability does not!
5. Time lines. Set specific time lines for when each benchmark needs to be performed. Time lines should be reviewed monthly, weekly, and, in many cases, daily.
6. Identification of resources required. Every system requires resources such as staffing, postage, supplies, and information. A detailed list of the specific resources needed to operate the system must be provided, along with quantities of each.
7. Measurement. Determine how you will quantify the system. You must set up a means of quantification so that you know you are getting the results you want from your system.
8. Established standards. A good system sets the standards for performance of the system and the behavior of the staff operating the system. Standards are most easily stated in terms of quantity, quality, and behavior. In many cases, like in sales, that’s easy. In other cases that are more intangible, like how clean to keep your store, you will have to make up some subjective measure.
9. A documented system. It’s not a system until it’s documented. You cannot expect people to follow a system that is not documented.
10. Training in system usage. Management and staff must be trained in the proper usage of each system. Beyond systems training, more generic, ongoing professional training should also be included on topics such as goal setting, motivation, problem solving, presentation skills, and so on.
Developing and following a system takes more work in the short term. There are more steps to follow and more reporting than you are most likely used to doing now. Ultimately though, systems create less work as you become more efficient and make more money. In fact, you’ll soon wonder how you ever got by without them!
The sooner you start creating detailed systems for how you want your business to run, the better your business will perform and the easier it will be to grow!
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