Many businesses work with ad hoc procedures that ‘just happen’, and aren’t really systems at all.

This article is about how to maximise efficiency, how do you systemise your business, or improve the systems already there. Here are some tips:

1. Start by choosing an area for systemisation – such as answering incoming calls or dealing with customer complaints – then decide what you want the outcomes to be, and work out the action sequence for getting there.

2. Aim to systemise to an appropriate level for your business and your resources – neither so complex that it’s difficult to sustain, or so basic that it doesn’t deliver.

3. Start with simpler systems before going on to more complex ones, and don’t try to systemise too many areas at once. Remember that systems don’t work in isolation, so consider how they will impact each other.

4. Often the weakest component in a system are those who use it, so any system you create should be understandable by the least knowledgeable and experienced staff member who will use it.

5. Formalise your systems in an ‘Operations Manual’ that is your ‘bible’ on how you do everything in your business, whether you’re a new recruit or an experienced employee looking for clarification.

6. Try to get ‘buy in’ from staff for any new system, which won’t necessarily be welcomed, even if it’s needed.

7. Give systems time to bed down — allowing staff, suppliers and customers the opportunity to provide feedback.

And if it’s obvious a system isn’t working, don’t be afraid to pull the plug on it and start again.

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