How to Map your Business Processes

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If you’re a small business owner who regularly outsources or has a virtual team, you want to ensure you’re getting value for money and that you’re making the most of your team’s expertise.

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2 Step Rule for Mapping Business Processes

When you’re used to filing everything in your head, running a Virtual Team can be incredibly tricky and without a crystal ball your team can’t access the information. If they don’t know what’s going on they’ll continuously ask questions and you’ll wonder why you hired them in the first place. When you create a team, your business needs processes, rules, set ways of doing things so you all get more stuff done more quickly.

How to Make Virtual Teams Work And Get Better Value for Money

For teams to work successfully and for businesses to perform at their best one needs to:

  1. Define and track commitments
  2. Follow the processes
  3. Complete the paperwork

These three things create clear communications, smoother projects and happier clients.

1. Define and Track Commitments

I love the Monkey Metaphor because it paints a picture of why it’s essential to define and track commitments. Imagine if your team has a Monkey but no one knew who was responsible for feeding it.

The Monkey would die…

  • Every task, project or anything that needs attention is a Monkey
  • To survive, every Monkey needs an owner and a feeding timetable.
  • Without an owner, a Monkey goes unfed and will die.
  • Every owner must understand the feeding schedule.
  • Monkeys can change owners as frequently as necessary, but they must always have an owner.

For each thing that happens within your business, you need to ask yourself “Whose Monkey is it and when does it need feeding?

Your answers to these questions Define who is responsible and Track the required Commitments.

When the whole team understands the importance of Defining and Tracking Commitments everyone is more likely to Follow The Processes…

2. Follow The Processes

Whatever your business is, your stuff always follows a path because If This Happens Then That Happens (ITTT).

It’s an ideal path within which you create your processes.

As you plot the path, you also decide who owns the Monkeys and what their feeding schedule is.

If you’re reading this thinking your business is too small to do this, it’s not.

Creating your processes at the very beginning makes it much easier to bring staff on board.

Here’s an easy way to map your processes:

Hooray! You have a new enquiry who says:

One enquiry creates three options (Monkeys), and you must decide who owns the Monkey for each option:

And, you must decide what the next action is for each Monkey:

Now you’ve decided who owns each Monkey and what the next action is, you need to decide feeding times (Due dates, dates for doing things). We’ll work with the Book an Appointment Scenario:

Step 1

“Whoa! That’s a lot of steps” I hear you cry.

Yes, it is. But if you want your business to run as if it’s on rails and you want to grow your business and have staff, then you need processes.

If this is making you gasp for air, don’t worry, take a deep breath.

Got it? … Hold it … now, Let it out.

“An Administration Consultant will plot this stuff with their eyes shut”

You might be thinking “There’s a whole host of software that will track this type of information. I can create Tracks in my CRM, and I can set up projects in Asana.”

You’re right, this software will do all of that but only if it’s set up correctly and used with discipline.

When the software isn’t set up correctly and when people don’t know who is responsible for what and when, the software will fail. Monkeys will die, and everyone will blame the software.

“Monkeys only die when their owners are negligent or lacking in knowledge.”

3. Complete the paperwork

No-one likes paperwork but having to ask a colleague what’s going on is unpleasant and frustrating. The person asking feels impotent and the person being asked thinks “why don’t you know this?” It affects morale, causes bottlenecks, creates unnecessary breaks in a chain and increases anxiety.

Everyone is happier when they know what’s going on.

We’ll continue with the example above and rejoice because the Enquiry responded and we can crack on and get an appointment booked.

You get the picture. At every step in the chain, something needs to happen, and there is some paperwork to complete (invoices, purchase orders, calendar invites).

This Stuff, Literally, Sucks The Life Out Of Me

I know many business owners struggle to work within the parameters of such clearly defined processes.

It’s not what you set up a business to do, and it’s not what you’re good at

I advocate everyone plays to their strengths. However, these systems and procedures mean the Accountant, Business Administrator, and anyone else to whom work is outsourced or delegated will be able to work to the full extent of their expertise instead of spending their time unravelling incomplete paperwork and picking up half dead monkeys.

I know these systems work, and I know they make businesses more profitable because the accountant with whom I work tells me.

Skip To The End

If, as a business owner you’re not at all interested in systems then you need to get someone on board who is and who will design the workflow process for you.

An Administrative Consultant will do this with their eyes closed.

They love this kind of thing. They’ll look at your business, work out all the pieces of the jigsaw and then create a workflow and infrastructure to support it.

It saves business owners an unimaginable amount of time, dicking around, trying to make CRMs and Project Management systems work, when the whole reason they won’t work is because a process hasn’t been defined or people aren’t following the rules and continue to keep everything in their head.

This three-step approach works so well because it’s the equivalent of a breadcrumb trail that anyone can follow.

And, if you don’t like working in such a disciplined way, don’t. Save yourself, and your Administrator, the frustration and have them do all the back-office stuff.

It might seem like it costs you more, but it doesn’t.

When allowed to crack on, a good Admin Consultant will cost your business around 7% of your turnover. Considering they’ll make your business more profitable, that’s a tiny investment.

Further Reading

The Monkey Metaphor isn’t mine, it’s a classic HBR article “Management Time, Who’s got the Monkey?” William Oncken and Donald L. Wass use the who-has-the-monkey-on-their-back metaphor to explain to managers who end up doing everything because there is a lack of clarity and accountability.