Super Simple Method to Solve Large Problems
Optimize before scaling
Businesses large and small encounter challenges every day. Staffing, documentation or business processes are some of the most common issues stifling company growth. In order to scale any organization, optimization is key.
Common business challenges
As a business owner or operator, you may encounter some or all of these challenges throughout the business day.
- Staff alignment: whether it’s a larger business with several departments to smaller companies with only a few people, misalignment of expectations or procedures amongst new and existing staff may cause issues.
- Waste concerns: resources and time are finite gifts, and you are conscious of how long it takes a person to complete a task and who is doing the work.
- Documentation: frustration with people not following documented processes and procedures, or a lack thereof.
- Missing information: lack of clarity about the time it takes to complete an activity or frustration about the speed of receiving payment.
Which challenge resonates?
To move forward with optimizing your business processes, take a step back to assess the challenges you encounter. It may be something you’re aware of immediately, or an area that needs additional reflection and inquiry. It is not uncommon to have several processes which may need some attention.
Choose one challenge for this exercise.
- Identify a start and end to a process
- Decide on a process that needs immediate attention. Where is the start and end of the process? Document the process flow. An example is when the order is received from a client (start) and when payment is received (end).
- Work with your team for insight
- Bring the team together that is involved in this process. This can include sales, marketing, customer service, operations and accounting. Everyone who encounters this process will provide a current view of how they are involved and steps they take to complete the action.
Helpful tip: Keep a pad of paper nearby to record other ideas not related to the current issue at hand that need improvement. Revisit them at another time, completing this exercise again. We call these ‘parking lot’ items.
How do I solve the problem?
The Method = SIPOC
S = SUPPLIER
I = INPUT
P = PROCESS
O = OUTPUT
C = CUSTOMER
SIPOC is a Lean Six Sigma* process improvement tool to identify the important parts of the process. (*Lean Six Sigma is a method that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste and reducing variation.)
How do I apply it to my issue?
The example = steps in a sales appointment process
A small sales team uses a website form to collect information and an email to distribute information across the team.
Now – plug and chug! Identify the start and end, and SIPOC procedure.
The start point: Get information from prospect
The end point: Set appointment with prospect
Supplier: Prospect shares contact information
Input: An email with the prospect’s contact information
Process: Prospect information collection
Output: the customer’s information or the call to the customer?
Customer: the sales team members who need to respond to the inquiry
Continue to breakdown the process:
Supplier: The sales team members
Input: Call to the prospect
Process: Call the prospect
Customer: The sales team members who need to respond
Complete each step in the process until you reach the end point and the current process is fully identified within the SIPOC methodology.
Gaps in your process? After working with the team to clarify roles, responsibilities and expectations, you will find areas of misalignment or misunderstood expectations. This is a key opportunity to find solutions to redefine the appropriate business procedure.
From here, you and your team can brainstorm solutions to solve the challenges encountered in the business. Once new processes are created to fix the problem, new documentation can be created to outline the details and streamline the information for everyone involved.
Click the link to schedule a 1:1 with Erica to better identify personalized solutions for your business.
Take the quick ‘Custom Business Assessment’ quiz to learn where to focus your efforts for scaling and optimizing your business