Why, how and when to implement the business systems that make your team more productive
When employees lack a sense of direction or aren’t empowered with the right tools to do their jobs, their productivity can suffer. According to Paychex, the average amount of time wasted per department is three or more hours every day.
Creating business systems can give your team more structure and direction. Rather than spending hours toiling at low-impact, high-effort busywork, business systems can free up your team’s time and energy to focus on work that increases the business’ bottom line.
But how can you systemize your business? Here, we’ll define systemization, explore its many benefits, and outline how you can implement your own business systems.
What is Systemization?
A system is a repeatable process. It’s a routine that addresses a specific problem in an automatic and reliable fashion. Systems allow your business to run like a well-oiled machine while making it more streamlined, more productive, and ultimately, more profitable.
Systemization is the act of creating a new system.
By systemizing your business, you reduce hours spent figuring things out or manually inputting information. You also tackle issues that come up again and again. Constantly dealing with scope creep? Iron out your proposal and kick off processes. It’s easier to iterate on established systems than it is to keep creating them from scratch.
What are the Benefits of Business Systems?
More Efficient Employees
Thoughtfully created business systems help your team manage their existing workload more efficiently. When empowered with processes, checklists and documented procedures, their work day is more predictable. They’ll be able to:
- Complete repeated tasks more quickly
- Get out of the weeds when they hit challenges
- Assess how much time tasks will take them
- Compare projects to one another, and source success points
Establishing business systems also streamlines workflows and can eliminate tasks altogether. This frees up your employees’ time, so they can refocus on work that has a bigger impact on the business’ bottom line.
For example, the average U.S. worker spends 14 hours a week on emails alone. But setting up an automatic system to respond to and archive emails can cut down on this time.
Tara Brouwer, CEO and Creative Strategist at Shovel Creative, went from working 80 hours per week to having her employees run her company successfully without her constant involvement. She accomplished this by creating a culture where her team members actually help her create company documentation and processes.
Consistent, High-Quality Work
Systematization enables you to do more without sacrificing on quality of work. Creating systems helps you set clear expectations for your team. For example, templates give employees a clear jumping-off point for their projects. Teams can iterate on processes and templates, giving them a way to constantly improve quality.
Calvin Brown, founder of Investment Homes Direct, says he got his business to the point where he could “do more with less. What used to take us 15, 16 employees and a lot of involvement now takes—through the process of automating and systematizing the business—about half of that.”
Clarity on Roles and Responsibilities
If your team members aren’t clear about their roles, they might not understand what they need to be doing or what your standards are. But employees perform better when they know exactly what’s expected of them.
The right business systems can set your team up for success. When you have systems in place, you can ensure that all of your team members know exactly what they need to be doing and what mark to hit.
These kinds of business systems can take the form of:
- Job descriptions
- Employee job matrices
- Regular one-on-one meetings
- Regular review cycles (quarterly reviews, semi-annual reviews, annual reviews, etc.)
Systems Can Help You Grow Your Business
It’s not all on your team. It’s also on you. Systems prevent bottlenecks and give you a front line of defence for your team’s questions. That means consistent, high-quality work…with you doing less to make sure it happens.
With more time and mental capacity at your disposal, you can focus on actually growing your business.
On top of increasing productivity and freeing up your focus, business systems also help uncover ways to cut costs. Team members can often handle more work if they efficiently manage their tasks. That means every person you’ve hired is able to bring in more revenue for the number of hours they’ve worked.
As a growing business, you’ll hit a point where you just can’t do it all. Systemization will make sure it gets done anyway.
Areas in Your Business Where Systems Could Help
While you can use systemization in a variety of ways throughout your business, here are some of the most common ways you can leverage processes to reap the aforementioned benefits:
- Outreach to potential job candidates
- Candidate management
- Interview scheduling
- Onboarding new hires
- Creating a training program
Operations & Administration
- Business planning
- Email management
- Project management
- Scheduling and meeting management
Where and When to Systematize
Business leaders have innumerable opportunities to establish systems in their organization. But to keep you from experiencing overwhelm, you can start business systems by prioritizing tasks that meet the following criteria. Focus on tasks that are…
- Predictable and recurring
- Taking up a lot of time and energy
- Getting under your skin or are causing confusion on your team
- Outside your core skillsets
Once you’ve set your priorities, you can build business systems based on your unique needs.
How to Successfully Implement Business Systems
Step 1: Start Early
If possible, create efficient business systems from the birth of your business and slowly add to the list as you grow. When you start early, you can create systems as needed and scale accordingly.
When that isn’t an option, there’s no better time to start than today. You don’t need to implement dozens of new processes at once—you can incrementally integrate them over time until you tackle everything on your list.
Step 2: Make an Implementation Plan and Execute It
Next, create a plan for your processes. This means you’ll need to establish which tasks you want to systemize and how you want to accomplish that for each one.
Break down each business activity to establish a system for the task that includes:
- Process: A step-by-step sequence of actions that are part of the process
- Tools: Required devices, apps, or software to create the system
- Roles and Responsibilities: Person/s in charge of each step of the process and employee buy-in
- Strategies: The tactics, tips, or techniques you use to execute on the process
Step 3: Look for Improvements
The system isn’t complete just because you set it up—there are always opportunities to improve your business systems. This kind of ongoing evaluation ensures that your new business systems are working and will offer consistent value to you and your employees.
Establish a set of success metrics for each system. That could be the amount of time each process saves, decreases in production time, or spikes in overall productivity. Whatever your chosen KPI, document your expectations and regularly test to ensure your business systems are meeting those goals.
When evaluating your new system, you can also look for and superfluous steps in the process. Can you delete, delegate or automate anything?
Don’t forget to ask your team for feedback. They’re likely the ones who use the systems daily, so they’ll also have suggestions on how to improve it.
From there, you can use your own testing and team feedback to iterate over time.
Moving Forward With Creating Business Systems
Systemization can help you and your team do their best work. By systematizing your time-consuming tasks on your to-do list, you can empower your employees to produce high-quality work that both you and your clients will love.
about the author
Lindsey Peacock is a writer, editor, and American expat based in Toronto. When she isn’t helping businesses tell their stories, you can find her at the nearest dog park with her beloved ginger husky, Charlie.