Systems, Systems, Systems

We all know we “should have systems” in the same way that most of our clients know they “shouldn’t eat chocolate” however there are a number of stumbling blocks that can get in the way: 

  • We are overwhelmed by the size of the task 
  • We don’t understand the technology 
  • We don’t do organisation 
  • We don’t have time 
  • We want perfection 
  • We want it to magically sort itself out 
  • We love organising stuff and can lose days to playing with creating spreadsheets and systems and avoiding other aspects of the business we aren’t so comfortable with 

Do any of these things seem uncomfortably like the stuff we identify as excuses when we hear it from clients? 

So why do we need systems? 

Think of them as healthy business habits.  If you have a well-designed, easy to implement system based on your preferred working methods then everything will happen smoothly and efficiently.  You’ll provide a consistent service and as a knock on effect you’ll have less stress and appear more professional.  You’ll also waste less time procrastinating, at least on this stuff!

What are good areas to have systems for? 

(Note: some of the following may not be relevant for you so feel free to pick and choose)  

Client focused 

  • Creating leads (incl everything you do and say that speaks to clients not just the ads and direct sales actions) 
  • Handling leads (Initial contact, follow up and revisiting old leads) 
  • On boarding clients 
  • Creating client plans 
  • Reviewing client progress at varying frequency (e.g. daily / weekly check ins, monthly /quarterly reviews etc) 
  • Client interactions for each type of client / each of your / their preferred methods of interaction 

Business focused 

  • Strategy / goal review (Where are you aiming for longer term? How are you progressing towards it?) 
  • Business SWOT review (Identify your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) 
  • Identification and review of people of influence in your business  
  • Finance tracking  
  • Process review  
  • Content creation  (emails, blogs, social media, website)  
  • Staff reviews if applicable 
  • Staff development if applicable 

Personal Development 

  • Personal SWOT review, (identify areas for educational focus in the future / a staff performance review for yourself 
  • Review of education (what did you learn? what changes, if any, will you make as a result? To be carried out after every learning opportunity) 

How to approach designing your systems 

As with implementing changes with clients, if you are looking at that list and wanting a lie down just pick one and get it in place.  It doesn’t need to be all singing and dancing and it should reflect your preferred working methods.  If you love technology break out the apps, spreadsheets or other tech, if you’re a pen and paper boy or girl then crack open the post its, pretty note pads and special pen.    

Be honest in what you are prepared to do.  Designing an aspirational system that you are never going to follow is a complete waste of time and likely to discourage you.  Writing down what you currently do is a great place to start, it’ll help you identify gaps as well as keeping the plan in the realms of reality.  Also be clear what “done” means to you, to be effective you just need to know what the plan is and follow it.  You don’t need to have it as a laminated infographic! Functional trumps pretty every time in this case. Think about why you want the systems in the first place and ensure you create them appropriately.

Consider getting assistance if organisation isn’t one of your skills.  Just getting someone to sit and ask questions while you run through what you do now can help you see where you missing things. If someone else is going to have to follow the instructions then getting them to create them in the first place can be great for their learning.  This can also give you the space to critically review what you do that can be missing when you are focused on the documentation process. 

What next? 

Still keep procrastinating?  Set aside 30 mins a few times a week and stick to them, choose 1 area of focus and keep going back to it until it is done.  Alternatively find someone to hold you accountable.   

Once you have designed your process make sure you review it and amend it.  Consider your compliance. It’s important it is something you can maintain in order to be effective so test it.  Don’t be afraid to tweak your processes until they are a true representation of what you do.  Consider creating a tick list if you are prone to forgetting things, create a timetable and / or schedule for getting things done, find what works for you and do it.  Pretty processes are useless if they don’t reflect reality, if this happens you can choose whether to amend the plan or the reality.  Initially testing may need to be on a more frequent basis but once it is embedded into your way of working some of the systems may only need an annual review to check you are still happy with them.    

Still not sure?  Just make a start! 

Alternatively check out the LTB Processes Course.