You don’t have to be “good at systems” to create them.
In fact, you have already created several systems in your business, even though you might not realise it yet. Each time you repeat a process, you are using your “system” to do the work, and your “system” does it’s job because the work gets done.
It might not be efficient. It might not be pretty. But it’s a system.
In my last post, I suggested you consider creating systems BEFORE you add someone to your team. I gave several reasons why I feel this is important, and if you haven’t read this post yet you’ll want to go back and check it out.
But “create” is maybe not exactly what I meant. Before you add someone to your team, you owe it to yourself (and them) to document your existing systems and make them as efficient as possible. Doing this saves your new team member time and frustration, which saves you money and makes everyone more successful. And it’s easier than you think…
You can systematize any process in a few steps. I’ll show you how.
Let’s work through an example – pretend you’re a business coach and your onboarding process includes sending your client links to several online personality and aptitude assessments prior to your first coaching appointment. You register your client for each assessment and then send a single email to the client with a list of tests and the links they’ll use to complete the assessments themselves.
You do all of this from memory, and nothing is written down. The process takes about 45 minutes of your time, and you’d like to delegate it to a VA. You need to document the system you use so that your new VA can actually do this work efficiently and independently.
Where do you start?
Step one: List the steps you take to accomplish this task. Just grab a pad of sticky notes and list the steps (one per note) as you work through the process. Then put the sticky notes on a flat surface (like your desk, a table, or even the wall) and arrange them in order, step-by-step.
You’ll have sticky notes for logging into each assessment site. You’ll have notes with steps for registering the client. You’ll also have notes for generating the personal link for your client and adding the link to the email you send. Put these notes in order. What do you do first, second, etc?
Step two: Evaluate each step objectively. Can you simplify the process by combining redundant steps? Can you automate parts of the process? Can you change the order to make the entire thing more efficient? This is why I suggest using sticky notes. You can rearrange them, add a note here or there, and try different combinations.
Maybe you always create the assessment links all at once before creating the email, but you’ve realized this creates confusion. Or maybe you have realized – just from this exercise – that one of the assessments is redundant and can be eliminated. Look for insights like these and adjust your process accordingly.
Step three: Identify where checklists or templates would be helpful. Imagine you’re explaining your process to someone. What kind of information would help them achieve the same outcome as you do without asking questions or bugging you? Checklists help people follow multi-step processes without forgetting anything.
The multiple assessments in our example are perfect for a checklist. Your VA could simply follow the checklist to make sure nothing is missed as she creates the links. It’s also perfect for a template, since the email to a new client is likely the same (or similar) each time.
Step four: Move your system into your task/project management tool. You can create a template of the process that is copied each time the task is assigned. Or, you can create document inside your prefered tool that lists the process steps and includes links to templates, checklists, and background documents.
Take a few minutes now (bonus tip) to use the “system” you just created as if you are unfamiliar with the process. Challenge yourself to follow the instructions as written and take only the steps you’ve documented when doing the work. You might uncover a few things you forgot when you created your system and need to add them into your instructions.
Start with the systems you want to delegate, and go from there.
Don’t worry about being perfect or getting things just right. Your goal here is to systematize the processes you already follow routinely so that you can hand them over to your team. The systems themselves don’t have to be perfect or even super efficient at first.
Just document the current system, and let your team make improvements over time as they put the process into action. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how more efficient you are just by taking this step.