Well-defined Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are oftentimes underestimated—especially in the fast-paced world of business, where adaptability and innovation are prized. However, when you neglect the establishment and upkeep of SOPs, it can come at a considerable cost to your business, leading to operational inefficiencies, costly errors, compliance issues, and more. 

 So why do teams neglect to record and standardize their processes?   

When working with leaders, we’ve found that teams don’t document their processes for three primary reasons:

  1. Concerns about job security. If everyone knows how to do what they do, they could easily be replaced. 
  2.  Employees are busy. They are bogged down with back-to-back meetings and don’t have time. 
  3.  It’s a task they hate doing. (Let’s be honest, most people hate it!) 

What happens when something isn’t a preferred activity? You procrastinate and avoid it like the plague, with the risk that you may never get to it. Even people who love following a defined process feel a sense of dread when asked to “write up the process” themselves. While streamlining processes and documentation is a common challenge, addressing it is crucial for long-term efficiency and productivity.   

This is where we come in. At CTC Productivity, we have a dedicated team ready to help you streamline and document your processes. Book a call to learn more about how we can help. 

Let’s Slow Down and Do Things Right 

We know you’re probably thinking, “Can’t I just do it later?” Here’s one client story that helps illustrate why you don’t want to wait. 

A client of ours, not too long ago, rolled out a new CRM tool. After the fact, they realized they should have reviewed and streamlined their processes before the project rollout. Why? Because if everyone is on the same page about process before the CRM project begins, the CRM lead can immediately configure the tool to match your workflow.  

Without finalizing SOPs first, the CRM lead must spend valuable time asking questions as they arise and facilitating discussions to get everyone on the same page. This causes the project to take more time and cost more money—especially when paid CRM experts are not able to immediately jump in and do their job. In this client’s case, the rollout and adoption took much longer than expected due to unnecessary confusion and frustration.  

This is a great example of the stress and wasted time that could have been avoided if the processes were written and streamlined upfront. And time waste adds up—read our blog “The Real Value of Time” for more on how wasted time becomes a serious financial drain if not kept in check.

Needless to say, our client is now planning an ERP upgrade and they have asked us to submit a proposal to help them review, streamline, and document their workflow before the rollout. We can’t stress enough how valuable it is to define and document your processes right from the start, in terms of both time and money.

The Downside of Unchecked Processes 

Oftentimes, we celebrate the speed of completion and don’t stop and think about whether there’s a better way to manage our workflow. Or we don’t consider ways to preemptively stop fires, questions, and confusion—all scenarios that typically slow things down. Not to mention the mistakes that happen when you barrel through work without a pause to simply think. 

Neglecting SOPs in your business can lead to various costs and consequences. Here are some of the potential impacts

  • Operational inefficiencies due to slower processes or unnecessary steps. 
  • Increased error rates or missteps that cause issues later. 
  • Higher operational costs due to wasted resources, increased rework, and the need for additional corrective measures. 
  • Time is wasted because when balls are dropped and fires need to be put out, it distracts from the top priorities of the day. 

In this day and age where every company is looking to “do more with less,” evaluating your processes to make sure everything runs smoothly is a no-brainer. Otherwise, you are actually “doing less with more.” (Read our article How to Do More With Less for ways CTC Productivity helps companies work as efficiently as possible.)

The Upside of Documenting Your Business Processes 

We were so excited when Mike Paton, one of the original leaders of EOS®, wrote a book about the importance of documenting your processes. We highly recommend it! Buy Process!: How Discipline and Consistency Will Set You and Your Business Free here. 

 EOS® has a strong following because, simply put, it works. So when Mike said spending time documenting your processes was a smart thing to do, we knew people would sit up and listen. 

 There is real value in reviewing, streamlining, and documenting your processes—especially before engaging in a technology-based project. Even simply ironing out the wrinkles could be a game-changer for your operations. To get a glimpse of the real-life impact, check out this States Manufacturing Case Study, where CTC Productivity helped streamline their sales-engineering workflow and engineering resource management. 

Documenting your business processes offers a multitude of benefits that contribute to the overall effectiveness and success of your organization, from training in new hires to validating the process as a whole.  

Here’s a closer look at the benefits you unlock when documenting your business processes: 

  • Consistent operations. Standardized processes create clear guidelines for how tasks should be executed.
  • Efficiency and productivity gains. Documented processes help streamline workflows, save time, and eliminate inefficiencies and excess steps. 
  • Continuous improvements. Documenting processes facilitates a systematic review of operations, helping identify opportunities for improvement and innovation.
  • Better communication. Processes serve as a common language for team members, enhancing communication and collaboration across different departments. 

How to Overcome Process Procrastination

CTC Productivity recently did a process improvement project on one of our own internal processes in anticipation of hiring a resource to manage the workflow. The goal was to ensure that the training was thorough and that the onboarding went as quickly as possible.  

We tried to document the process for months with little progress—mainly because the point-people didn’t enjoy the work (they were not the process improvement authorities on the team!). It felt like a huge burden, and they easily shifted focus to “more important” work that needed to be done. Yes, even productivity consultants are not perfect!  

What we discovered is that it’s helpful to approach the project like someone who is trained to “do this right,” like one of our CTC industrial engineers. For example, their typical advice would be . . .   

  • Make sure you know who the primary target is for the documentation you’re creating so the right information is included. Is it for the person who will execute the steps? Or is it for the functional leaders, so they can see the high-level workflow and how a process weaves into different departments?
  • Is the person writing the process the right person to go into every detail of that work? 

We all knew it needed to get done, but none of us enjoyed the work of sitting down to do it on our own as we were not clear on the best way to approach the work. So we decided to have a process improvement expert lead the project. This not only made it less burdensome, but allowed aspects of the work to become truly fun. Or like one of our process improvement clients said, it felt like a luxury to slow down and think through a process we do all the time to consider how we could make it better. Choosing a project lead who knew how to do the work on an expert level was the important piece that had been missing. 

So, the million-dollar question is: how do you conquer process procrastination? Our recommendation is to: 

  • Start small.  
  • Set specific goals. 
  • Break down the task into smaller pieces and prioritize.  
  • Create a realistic timeline. 
  • Don’t do it on your own if you dread the work. 
  • Collaborate with relevant team members and departments. Find the fun! 
  • Hire an expert to guide the process. 
  • Make it easier by storing documents in SharePoint so you can leverage version control. Then there will always be a singular master version, but you easily have the ability to see all prior iterations. 

We firmly believe that we are at a tipping point where time is now more valuable than money—and continuously addressing SOPs is one of the best ways to work smart so you can do more 

If you’re ready to improve your workflow and efficiencies, book a call to learn more about how we can help. 

 

 

 

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