Part 3 Implementing & using systems for maximum benefit.
By now, you have developed written systems to guide your business. But how to implement them, and take them into reality?
The following is the story of how I first introduced systems into my practice. I hope to give you some insight into how tochange your practice’s culture by introducing systems for your team to complete the work of running the office more efficiently and effectively.
As I wrote in Part 1 What are BUSINESS SYSTEMS and Part 2 How to write systems, Iengaged a coach/mentor to help me learn business skills and convert my small architectural practice into a successful company for more fun and profit. During this process I learned the importance of building a systems culture for success in business.
Rolling out the systems
I worked diligently at becoming a system writer going back-and-forth with my mentor on early efforts. The feedback I received from my coach/mentor was positive. Once I had developed a few systems, I felt I had cracked the code on becoming a systems based office. Our whole team met and I rolled out the systems as written. I made the system available in digital and hard copy, making them easily accessible.
That was it – right? After roll out, I went back to writing more systems, thinking that writing the systems was going to be the key part of the process. I thought once the systems were in the hands of the team, the users, it would be nothing but efficiency and effectiveness as a systems based office promised to deliver. But, not so!
Within weeks of the systems roll-out, I checked back with the users. I found mixed reaction. Following is a sampling of the comments:
- Learning to use the systems interferes with the work
- I always got things done, differently
- I use only the parts of the system that suit me
- I don’t know why we are using the systems
- I don’t see how systems help us do the work
- I don’t like the systems
- We got along fine before we started with the systems process
With all these less than positive responses to the systems, I was wondering if systems was such a good idea. But, I was not ready to give up yet.
Systems to company culture
I decided to sit down with the users and go over each of the comments. I discovered it takes more than just a one-time explanation of new systems for to the users to understand the how-and-why of the systems process. Understanding the why of systems use is the key to accepting them. Also, the users must be given the time to make the transition. After the first meeting the team decided to meet and discuss the systems process as many times as it took to make the transition complete. The subsequent meeting proved to be very productive. Not only were the team learning the how, the why and the benefits of the systems, but the team members had constructive suggestions to upgrade the systems. In these meetings the team members helped each other work their way through the transition.
As you can see, by the above example the transition to a systems culture takes focused effort and time. This time is not directly productive (that is, billable) however, once the transition is made this time is quickly made up when the systems are in full use.
After our original hiccups with rolling out systems, we paid special attention to how the systems were used by the team. Also, later on when we had numerous systems, we set up a regular review of systems. The users were asked to record their issues and suggestions, which we reviewed and adjusted the systems accordingly. In this manner we continuously upgraded the systems and made them more effective. We also reviewed the benefits accrued of systems culture.
New improved company culture
Writing required systems and integrating them into the company culture, will create a new and improved business model, an efficient and effective production machine with:
- added time for creativity
- higher quality work
- less conflict & frustration
- less deadlines missed
- more revenue and more profit
- less time spent at the office after hours
- more time for the owner/entrepreneur to spend time growing the business.
- fewer mistakes in the work
- better training program
- better team member evaluation
- many additional benefite
You may say, the time and effort spent writing and rolling out the systems could have be spent “doing-the-work”. But, as Michael Gerber, small business guru says “if you do not spend time working on-your-business, you will continue to be stuck year-after-year doing your work in an inefficient and ineffective way and wonder why you:
- never get ahead in your business
- never have enough time and continue to work long hours
- never make the profitsyou want
- never have enough good clients
- never develop a loyal team
- never resolve the frustrations that exist in the business.”
Step-by- step implementation
The following is a recommended step-by-step process for implementing systems for maximum benefit in your business:
1. Before you roll out your first system explain for the team:
o what systems are and why the business chooses to use them
o how they can do to help with the implementation
o what to expect from systems use
2. When you roll out your systems, do it in an environment that is free from distractions and go through in detail step-by-step. Invite questions on the systems and their usage. Ask the users to record any issues to be reported to the systems manager.
3. Consider all the feedback from the users as important. There must be full buy-in by all the users to create the right system culture.
4. Do not roll out more than one system at a time. I suggest no more that 2 systems per month.
5. There will be a point when the users will realize how the systems make doing the work more efficient and effective. Have the users share their experiences with the systems success. The systems will help:
o give them more freedom in doing their work
o provide a means to get constructive feedback on their work
o team members require less supervision
o provide milestones for the team members and managers to assess progress
o give team members an opportunity for faster growth on the team
o provide a means to evaluate team members
6. Once the team masters the first systems, they will eagerly welcome new ones. At this point you have successfully laid the foundation for an improved office culture on which you can build your business into be the best that it can be.