1. People and education
Looking after the wellbeing of your staff not only ensures they’re happy and productive, it also ensures they are equipped to do their jobs as effectively as possible.
The first system to consider when addressing the management of people and their development is ongoing training.
Another aspect to consider is your induction training. Have a file that you can pick up when a new employee arrives, outlining what that person needs to achieve before being let loose on the job.
Other ‘people aspects’ to consider are your recruitment system, rewards and remuneration system and what we call ‘positional contracts’. These state the objectives, goals, responsibilities and accountabilities of each position and are important because they provide clarity on what people are meant to be doing.
2. Delivery and distribution
This area is ideal for systemisation, and indeed many business owners think that because they have computerised delivery schedules, stock prediction programmes and production schedules, they’re sorted. But actually, it goes far beyond this and systems that will impact on your delivery and distribution need to be considered early on.
For example, in many manufacturing businesses we coach, we find that business owners don’t have a documented production process that includes their manufacturing approach.
This should include things like where they’re buying their materials, which helps to iron out product variability. And if there’s product coming back after delivery, it helps to isolate where in the process the error was made, so that it can be avoided in future.
Other things to consider include changing your product packaging for safer delivery, reorganising your stock according to highest turnover, simplifying your order pick and pack process, forecasting stock movement, implementing a purchase and stock receiving system, outsourcing logistics (and even delivery), completing regular stock takes and putting measurement systems in place, which brings us to our next point.
3. Testing and measurement
Test and measure everything. Make this part of your daily business routine.
Start by monitoring what you’re currently doing. Then prune, modify and adjust as you see fit. Test and monitor again for two weeks. Then take a look at your results. Was there an improvement? Let things stand for a month or so while you consolidate. Then branch out and implement another strategy or try something different to improve results. Aim for continuous improvement.
4. Systems and technology
Schedule and complete regular maintenance on all equipment, use computer invoicing, credit monitoring and stock control, document and picture all tasks in an operations manual and use the latest software (this is much easier now with cloud computing).
Complete systems training and an induction programme, upgrade your phone system if necessary, run a computer back-up system and document all work-flow processes, sales and marketing systems and information flow processes.
Use a purpose-designed computer database system to manage and collect information on clients and leads, complete a policies and procedures manual and document all accounting systems.
Importantly, upgrade your office equipment regularly (the cost is worth the time and frustration saved), pay attention to your security systems and keep them up to date, and re-systematise as your business grows.