Without systems and processes you’ll work longer hours than is necessary and won’t be able to take a holiday lest your empire crumbles.
You’ll have weekly team meetings but still spend a huge amount of time explaining things, discussing issues that keep cropping up and solving problems that could have been prevented.
In short, without systems and processes you’ll feel as if your business runs you and not the other way around.
“A good system shortens the road to the goal.” ~ ORISON SWETT MARDEN
(1850 – 1924: American Author)
I wrote a full post about the difference between a system and a process here. Effective business systems and processes are the backbone of a successful company.
Business Systems in Practice
You run a skincare brand that boasts organic ingredients.
The final products are assembled in-house.
Some ingredients are sourced overseas and labeling is produced by another vendor.
You have a new product you want to get to the market by a specific date.
Which systems and processes do you need to ensure your launch will go according to plan?
Think about the actions needed in each system, sub-system or process to reach the end goal.
BUSINESS SYSTEMS EXPLAINED
To achieve the goal of getting a skincare product ready for the market you’ll need all the core business systems and processes.
From a Marketing System, an eCommerce System to take payment to Admin Systems, Operations, Supply Chain Management Systems, etc.
In this explanation we’ll do a BRIEF OVERVIEW of the systems and processes needed to launch a new skincare product and it’s not intended to be a complete list. All the systems and processes needed will comprise of several detailed documents and checklists, which cannot be covered in a single blog post.
STEP 1: PLANNING + COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS
From a planning perspective you’ll take your planned delivery date and work backwards to identify by which date your orders need to be placed, when products need to be created and shipped.
- What information is needed, from whom + by when? e.g. vendors + shipping companies
- Brainstorm possible issues or delays with your team and put measures in place to minimise the risks
- Agree and document the strategic plan, budget, roles + tasks, milestones, marketing, sales and delivery dates
- Consider your wholesalers’ timelines – they have to ship products they receive from you on to their own customers. Work these times into your overall timeline.
Ask: What turnaround times are needed, if they need to repack + ship the products to their customers by an agreed date?
Share the documented processes with all parties involved e.g. staff, vendors + wholesalers via email, project management software or shared files in Dropbox or Google Drive to avoid confusion and delays.
Cloud-based project software systems like Trello or Asana are ideal to:
- allocate tasks and job roles to various parties
- keep track of all tasks, changes and deadlines in real time in one central location
- schedule reminders and follow-ups, and
- generally stay on top of the project.
Unless you need specialised project management software, consider a low-cost options like Asana or Trello with free versions for small teams.
Keep all customer and supplier details in one central (ideally cloud-based) CRM system e.g. Capsule CRM where you can store up to 250 contacts for free.
STEP 2: MANUFACTURING SYSTEMS
POINTS TO CONSIDER:
- Forecasting (the number of units your customers will order)
- Timelines (your own and your customers’ timelines) in terms of ordering and shipping of individual ingredients
(Consider the season, harvesting, packing, customs and shipping)
- Labeling requirements including printing and posting of labels
- Creating the products in-house within required timelines
- Picking*, packing and shipping to your customers
(*This is getting your products from the shelf or warehouse ready for packing)
Remember to have regular calls with vendors to check on progress and discuss any potential problems in the manufacturing process.
Continuously build strong relationships with vendors to ensure cooperation if you have delays and need help to stay on track.
STEP 3: ORDERING SYSTEMS
Ensure to order the correct quantities of everything needed (ingredients, labeling + packaging) to produce a finished product well in advance and account for delays in delivery.
Once orders have been placed with vendors, use some form of project software (Step 1) and weekly update meetings (online or in person) to review progress, resolve any issues and ensure everyone stays on track.
STEP 4: MANUFACTURING/ ASSEMBLY PROCESS
On delivery, ensure that orders can be picked, packed and shipped to your customers as quickly and efficiently as possible.
This will ensure enough time to prepare sub-orders at the end of the chain and to minimize any losses if your product is perishable.
STEP 5: PACKING AND QUALITY CONTROL
Put a process in place to do the picking and packing of the products before they are sent out.
Think like Amazon and ask – How will staff know…
- which product to choose off the shelf for which order?
- how to pack products correctly?
- what a finished product should look like e.g. where labels go, etc.?
- what a finished package should look like e.g. when is it ready to be shipped?
Use checklists for quality control so anyone can do checks exactly as the manager or business owner would have done it themselves.
Create a process for faulty items and include guidelines to deal with it successfully.
STEP 6: SHIPPING SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES
- who is responsible
- how many trips/ pick-ups are needed to ship all product
- procedures for express shipping vs standard shipping
- procedures to ensure tracking numbers reach customers or suppliers
- procedures for lost packages, replacements and guarantees.
At first glance it looks very complicated to set up the systems and processes for this product launch, and make no mistake, it WILL require thinking, planning, time and patience to set up and get it right…
However, the reward is a huge amount of value added to the business through smooth-running systems and processes that allow the business owner to spend time and energy on higher level money-making activities, like new deals or project collaborations.
Most importantly, once it’s done it will dramatically increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency of future launches while reducing frustrations, headaches and bottlenecks.
This will allow the business owner to step away from their business for a day or a month and still have a thriving business on their return which is priceless.
In which business area will a new or reviewed system add the most value (time/ money), in the next 3 months?
Remember, as your business changes so will your systems change. Ideally all systems need to be reviewed at least twice a year if not quarterly.
If it’s not working for anymore, it’s time for a change. This is a mantra I use for my life as well as my business!
Which system or process will make the biggest impact in your business right now? Leave your comment below.
Author: ALICIA MENKVELD Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.