I once had a client that wanted to improve sales and worked hard to create a new, compelling business strategy. After an enthusiastic launch, frustration grew as the order numbers remained fairly flat. What was lacking was a clear sales process with measures to isolate where sales people were running into difficulty and why. If goals are a map to set direction, then process is the speedometer. The basic building block for process is employee responsibilities. Without written descriptions, even a small business that has yet to evolve to processes will flounder. From a manager’s desk, process problems appear murky with no obvious solution in sight.
Some examples of process issues are:
- Customers tripped up by the same service or delivery issues
- Stifled productivity from employees welcoming a high-skill employee handling their responsibilities and, thus, becomes the bottleneck
- Intense finger-pointing over who is responsible for a decision or to blame for an issue
- Difficulty, or even inability, to forecast orders, cost, and delivery times
By definition, a process is an activity requiring work to be divided across multiple organizational functions. Successful hand-offs of work require a complete description of each task, who is responsible for the task, how it is determined that a task is completed correctly, and what action is to be taken if a task cannot be completed as scheduled. Here’s a questionnaire to help you assess your process expertise. Each “No” should be regarded as an opportunity to improve.
- For the sales, operations, finance/accounting, and general management functions, is there the one name clearly recognized in your business as being responsible for each function?
- Is there a quality policy that allows the employee closest to the assembly of the product decide if a product is ready to ship?
- Do employees have a clear written description of their responsibilities and are able to recite how their performance is evaluated?
- Do you have periodic reviews of key activities and process to determine which processes are obsolete and need redesign?
If you answered yes to all the questions, you likely have confident employees and satisfied customers. Regardless of how you answered, you can download a white paper titled, “Marketing Quality Management.” And, spoiler alert: if sales are down, don’t be quick to blame the sales people. Accelerated Achievements has helped all kinds of companies improve efficiency and quality. If questions have been triggered by this post and you want to talk, drop me a line.