Bringing order to chaos, making a business run like a knife through butter
This quarter, as Head of Operations (cool title no?) I am focusing on taking our internal processes to the next level.
I know, boring right?
Processes are the way you scale companies. Processes are the way you make things more efficient. Processes make this:
They also provide you a wealth of opportunities for using 21st century English:
- We’re process-driven
- We live processes
- We synergize our processes to ensure holistic outreach.
Ok, enough talk, how am I going to do it?
It first starts with RACI (pronounced racy or R A C I) however you want to call it. It’s a “Responsibility Assignment Matrix” which is a very new age and cool.
It looks something like this:
It’s a nice table showing what we do and who should do it. for the ‘Design Site Map,’ we could have an underlying process.
Then we create something like this (sorry Domi), a wonderful:
This flowchart has different elements:
- Swimlanes ->Where different people or departments are involved
- Square boxes where something happens
- Diamond boxes where a decision takes place
- And circles where something starts (and finishes which we need to add to this one Domi)
But then you need to live it in some way, which means you need to assign ownership, where you make a
Process Owners are exactly that, they drive the process further to be more efficient, effective, covering everything, etc. Ideally, someone should volunteer for it, but you can also assign if the person’s area of expertise or daily work calls for it. You put these Process Owner names within the RACI matrix.
Problems in Paradise:
The biggest problem in making an organization process-driven is transforming from:
Situation comes up
- We deal with it ad hoc
- We deal with everything ad hoc
- Everyone is stressed
- People leave
Instead of, with processes:
- Situation comes up
- We deal with it in an established way
- We deal with nearly everything in an established way,
- We eat cake.
In a business many situations can occur, particularly in a managed service business:
- A person is not happy in project
- The client is not happy with the person
- Purchase orders don’t cover all of the year
- The candidate needs a technical interview
- A person wants a pay raise
- COVID-19 happens
Dealing with that thing that happened that you didn’t know would happen
Once you have an established process, there will be edge cases you didn’t deal with before, but you need to add them to the process through the process owner.
Such edge cases and even unknown unknowns (my favorite technical phrase in English) could be:
- What if COVID happens,
- What if the budget gets cut
- What if the underlying contract you have with a client changes
Through a regular biweekly iteration — you can as a team of people, adjust and evolve your processes to represent what the company is doing, and what it should be doing.
Efficiency and effectiveness:
So once you have an established process, then you need to optimize it and from an efficiency point of view, you have two main metrics:
- Cycle time — how long it will take to do this process in calendar days
- Real-time — how long in MD did it take everyone to execute this process
So assuming you have a process to make a company newsletter (the most corporate of corporate things possible):
- Cycle time could be 5 days end to end,
- Real-time could be 1 day (because people have other priorities during the day, and it requires a lot of people)
And in real impact:
- The optimization you do on cycle time affects your timelines,
- The optimization you do in real-time affects your ROI
So if you have a small company and want to gradually stop the chaos,
- Make a RACI,
- Assign process owners,
- Make flowcharts,
- Regularly iterate to cover edge cases,
- Reduce cycle time and real-time while preserving impact,
Better to start small and actually run your company through young processes, then make a lot of meetings to decide what the process should be.
Satya Nadella, one of my favorite guys, said that in a hire he looks for someone who
1) Provides clarity · 2) Generates energy · 3) Drives success
The clarity part here is really important to process generation and what I want you to leave today with.
I’m not an expert in organizational processes, I’m learning as I go along, and I hope through this blog you have learned some initial steps on getting your company to the next level.
If you have any comments or would like to know how the absence of personal contact and interaction magnifies the organization’s strengths and weaknesses, read our lessons learned or feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bringing order to chaos, making a business run like a knife through butter was originally published in ableneo People on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.