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Developing Effective Systems

The primary reason for implementing systems in your business is to provide consistency and therefore predictable quality of outcomes. Effective systems also establish the means for day-to-day operational activities to manage themselves, leaving managers with the time they need to deal with exceptions and to work on business development.

A system is basically a set of rules for processing information and facilitating decisions.

The other major benefit of developing and documenting systems and procedures is to help to personality-proof the business. Effective systems reduce the level of dependence on particular individuals by downloading their knowledge and documenting it so that knowledge can be shared with other staff and become corporate knowledge rather than individual knowledge.

Ineffective systems usually lead to dissatisfied customers because the level of service and quality is unpredictable. It also usually means that staff are frustrated and demotivated because every task becomes a unique challenge rather than an established process with known outcomes.

Ineffective systems usually lead to dissatisfied customers because the level of service and quality is unpredictable.

This situation is difficult enough for long-term staff but without documented,  up-to-date and effective systems, new employees will be forced to rely heavily on more experienced staff for guidance to take on even the most basic of day-to-day tasks and could result in low productivity over an extended period of time for both new staff members and those providing them with training and support.

Good systems have a number of key characteristics:

  • They are documented.
  • There is some level of automation in data capture and processing information.
  • They are not reliant on individual knowledge.
  • They operate in a predictable and timely manner.
  • They provide guidance in routine decision making.
  • They improve efficiency and reduce costs.
  • They accommodate the ability to measure performance.

If you don’t have systems in place in your business, where do you start?

The starting point for implementing effective systems and processes is to establish a clear picture of the required outcomes, to assess the current position, and then to develop the logical, step-by-step processes required to consistently achieve the outcomes required. Incorporating the input from the people at the coal face who work with the processes on a day-to-day basis is essential. They are the ones who are implementing the systems and generally know what works well and what causes frustration.

It is also important to consider the relevance and implications involved with having the systems that relate to Quality Assurance and Workplace Health & Safety accredited to the relevant standards.

And once your systems have been developed and put in place, that is not the end of the story. Systems should be regularly reviewed and updated with input from both management and the staff who use the systems to ensure that the system continues to be effective. When a system is revised, take into account how your staff follow and interact with the system, any changes in the products and services you offer, in the way you do business, how your customers do business, how you interact with your customers, advances in technology, legislation changes and anything else relevant to the way your business operates in a rapidly changing world.