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Growing your business with the 3 layers of systems

July 18, 2016

If you want your business to grow, it will mean employing more people. And to give those new members of staff the best chance of helping you break through to a whole new level of sales and productivity, it’s important to set up systems.

These systems need to be scaleable, understandable, and effective. Don’t charge ahead and introduce systems blindly as you may find they are largely ineffectual, doing little, if anything to boost your company’s performance.

To construct clear, simple, effective systems. that will optimise your output, you need a foundational knowledge of the three basic layers of systems. Shweta Jhajharia, of The London Coaching Group explains;

1. Base Layer: Rules and Policies

Before you can create a system, you have to be clear as to what the company is committed to and is moving towards. Ask yourself the following questions;

  • What are the company’s or business owner’s values?
  • What are the regulations you have in your business?
  • What is the culture you want to build?
  • What mission do you have in mind for this particular system?
  • What determines value in this system?

At the London Coaching Group we have a document called the “Rules of the Game”. It’s used to define purpose, goals, and expectations of both clients and team members.

The document explains the position of employees, any contracts, any conditions or constraints, any legal positions, and any policies. The idea of this is to form a foundation—a grounding—that your entire company works from.

If you don’t already have a document like this in your business, then it is actually very easy to create. You’ll find that many legal companies / solicitor firms have ready-to-use templates.

Many of these companies offer these templates as a way of encouraging you to work with them on a more ongoing basis.

2. Middle Layer: Method

For the next layer of setting up systems, you need to know the way your business is going to go about creating the system in your business. This is split into two sections – the process and the procedures.

A process is a set of logically related tasks. So you have an input and an outcome, and then everything in between those is a process. To set up processes, you need to create process charts.

Basically, a process sets out how your company is going to translate your rules and policies (from the first layer) into action. You set out the rules in that first layer – saying what you are trying to do – and then the process is the step-by-step pathway to show how you are going to do it.

A procedure is when you step inside a process to provide detailed instructions on how that process is done at each step. So a process shows the person looking at it that “this is a step”. The procedure, however, says what actually needs to be done in order to achieve that step.

The procedures ensure that the process remains consistent in its output.

Let us take an example as part of a process: “Back-up Company Account File” is the step in the process of what needs to be done when it comes to the accounts in a business.

The procedure will be a detailed explanation of how to actually back-up the company account file: perhaps something like, “When the company file is done, take it from the folder labelled ‘Company Accounts’, copy the file dated today, save it on a CD and label it with ‘Company Accounts <date>’.”

3. Top Layer: Tools

Tools is the final layer of systems. These are all of the actual items you use to circulate the systems within your business. This includes all the forms, checklists, guides, templates, standard documents and so on.

An example might be that in a customer services call centre, employees need to ask, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” The document that explains this for staff members is the ‘tool’. A sign that points to a box and says, “Paper Recycling Here” is a tool.

Tools will also include your how-to manuals and videos. You should have one of these for each and every position in your company.

The manual should have a complete list of the procedures required for that person to function in that position. Therefore, you can see how the processes can then be achieved through procedures which are listed in the tools you give to your team members. This sort of tool should be a critical part of the induction process.

Remember, however, that your tools are not going to be 100% instruction manuals. Each person will likely put their own angle on actually delivering the final result.

What is important is that your manuals – your tools – cover the essential parts for the systemised routine areas of the job. The rest are the exceptions, which can be managed by the human doing the job.

As long as you have that base layer of rules and policies in place, employees should be able to handle it in the right way, and you can be sure their actions are still working towards the ultimate end goal.

Once you understand that gaining leverage in your business requires these firm three layers, you can then start to build really effective systems for your operations.

This will ensure that when you do systemise something, it all comes from a clear foundation of rules and policies, and has a simple method that is operated through well-defined tools.

Your team will then be able to follow your systems with a clarity that will ensure much smoother automation within your business, reducing the occasions when you need to intervene.

About the author

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Shweta Jhajharia, Principal Coach and founder of The London Coaching Group. Despite a competitive economy, her clients across sectors consistently achieve measurable double digit growth (over 41%) and are the most awarded client base in UK. Other articles by Shweta include;

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