Michael Gerber, the famous author of the E-Myth books, talks about identifying what needs to be done, testing it to determine the results, and then breaking it down into tasks so simple, that almost anyone can do it. You then systemise and document it so that the business can be effectively operated by anyone on your team, not just yourself. Macdonald’s is the ‘Gold Standard’ as far as business systemisation is concerned. They can produce a burger with a pretty consistent taste, in all their stores across the world – and they are usually cooked by teenagers and young adults.
As business owners, we know the advantages of systemising the various company processes. However, identifying processes, systemising and documenting it in a way that can be understood by someone else, undoubtedly uses valuable resources such as time and energy. Furthermore, business processes are always evolving and, as a result, documented processes can quickly go out of date if they are not updated regularly to reflect the changes. I know of businesses who spent time documenting their systems, only to file it away and find it bore little accuracy to what was currently being done in the business a short while later.
In other words, if you do not update the system documents regularly, the value that document brings to the company in terms of retaining the knowledge in the process, will diminish over time. So, if you want to maximise the benefits of systemising your processes, yet not fall into the trap of doing it and leaving it aside, when should you do it?
When to practice business systemisation – a solution
You can start to document your systems as soon as you believe that the business can benefit from it. I would suggest that happens when:
1. The business has stabilised for a period of time; or
2. When such documents would clearly benefit you, or someone else in terms of assisting you, to get things done.
It makes the most sense to invest in documenting your systems when someone is performing a function that you wish to capture, in order to retain the knowledge in the event that person leaves. Alternately, such a document can benefit your business by serving as a point of reference, particularly if it is a task performed infrequently that can easily be forgotten in the interim.