documented systems

This weekend, I was reminded of why documented and centralized systems are important and how easy they are to create. To start with a little back-story, my daughter recently joined a band as the lead singer and is excited to get herself out there. We created a quick website for the band and had slowly been adding to it. After her recent performance, she asked if she could log in and make some updates.

Katie clearly has her vision and to be honest, the updates and maintenance were beginning to take a lot of my time. Since this project is hers, I decided it was time to loosen the reins and encourage my teen to post the updates herself.

I instinctively opened google drive, created a new folder named The Disapproved and started a document named “Website Information.” I quickly started adding bullet points, a brain dump of what she needed to know.

Suddenly I was reminded of the importance of documented and centralized systems and how easy they can be to create. There, in that google doc was the start of a system that gave my teenage daughter the information she needed to update and maintain her new website.

This simple document allowed me to delegate, would save me time and would mean that the site would stay consistent with how I created it. Clearly, I need to oversee her work but managing your team feels like a topic for another day!

Systems are any repeatable process in your business

You can create systems for all areas of our life. Simply put, a system is any repeatable process that can take place without you! A system includes who does it, what they need to do, when they do it, where they do it and why they do it.

In this case, Katie wanted to update a page on her website. She needs to follow specific steps to format the text and pictures in a way that creates a consistent look for her site. The process we were creating will be used whenever new text or images are added to a page on her website.

When we talk about where a process takes place, we don’t necessarily need to be referring to a specific location. The location here is the technology she will use: her WordPress website and Picmonkey for editing image files.

Document your systems over time and as you do them

This website and band are just getting started, which makes it easy to start documenting systems. For an established business, the process of creating systems can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Document your systems over time and as you do them.

In fact, the way to create a system is to document it while you do it! While completing the task, document each step of the process and ask yourself the who, what, where, when and why as you go!  Over time you will have documented several systems and be on your way to creating your own operations guide for all areas of your business!

If it involves more than one step and you do it more than once, it needs a system!

Remember, systems are any repeatable process in your business (or your life) that can take place without you! When asked what needs to be systematized, my answer is anything that involves more than one step and anything done more than once!

Systems create consistency

In my example, documenting this system for my daughter will create consistency in the look and feel of her site. For your business, this means a consistent brand and a consistent experience for your customers and clients.

A documented system for customer service requests is another great example of how a system can create consistency in the customer experience. By documenting your frequently asked questions and systems for handling customer requests, you create a consistent experience for everyone.

Systems save you time

We all know that systems can save time. Having a checklist to go down can speed up the process of the most mundane tasks. Having a documented system for updating a web page means that I am not wasting time guessing on image size or color codes.

A documented system also means that I can delegate or outsource tasks (hello teenage daughter!). Updating the band website is no longer my responsibility! I simply shared the google document where I documented the system, and she is on her way!

Your Operations Manual

Speaking of google docs, I am often asked where to store systems. Centralizing your systems is the important thing here. If you use a word document and save it on your home computer, that information won’t be readily available to others who need it. You also risk losing it should something happen to that computer.

By centralizing your systems, you can create an operations manual that you can share with others. My go to is Google Docs. I use GSuite (formerly Google Apps for Business) and find it easy to use since I am in email or online most of my work day. My #2 place for storing your operations manual is in my project management system – we use Teamwork.

You can use Dropbox, Evernote or another cloud-based system. The best place to document a system is where it makes sense for you and your team. If you can’t easily access it, you won’t, and if you have a team to delegate to they need to have easy access as well!

 

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