At the core of every business is the processes that you use. You perform these every single day, but have you ever taken the time to actually map them out and document them? Representing your workflow in this way offers a number of benefits for your business. One key benefit is that onboarding and training new employees becomes so much easier.
Representing Your Business Processes Visually
The best way to document your business processes is to do it visually. It’s much easier for a new staff member to understand the workflow from a diagram representation than a piece of text content. Business processes are basically mapped out in flow charts or variations of flow chart. A flow chart shows each step of a process in a square or other shape connected by lines or arrows. They illustrate how the task moves from start to finish.
Beyond the Flow Chart
Flow charts offer the most basic visual representation, but there are a few variations on this type of diagram that are useful for business processes.
- The Swimlane Diagram. A Swimlane diagram shows a process from start to finish but divides it into “lanes.” These are columns for different stakeholders, facilities, departments, or resources. It shows more clearly who is responsible for which part of a task.
- Value Stream Map. A value stream map is a more complicated diagram where the work doesn’t just flow one way but in all directions. It’s useful for complex tasks that require multiple departments and stages, or that might be modular.
Having a mix of videos amongst your documented processes can clearly explain the workflow when using certain software. This can also speed up some of the smaller steps and extra information that needs to be included in each process.
Don’t document your business processes all alone. Seek the advice and feedback of other colleagues, especially if they’re the ones that are usually in charge of the process. You’ll also want feedback after documentation to make sure it’s clear and easy to understand.
Start with the Big Picture
When teaching new team members a process, you have to start by giving them the big picture view of the task. Explain where this task fits into your overall business and what specific goal it’s meant to achieve. At the beginning of the process, give them the resources and tools they need and what other preparations there are, if any. For your documentation, you may start with a brief summary that explains this.
Create an Archive of Resources
Create a manual of all your business processes and make it available to team members. Encourage them to refer to these protocols as they learn. It will take some time before the job becomes second nature to them.
Why You Should Document Your Business Processes
Documenting your business processes helps you to train new team members. But it can also help in other ways. By investigating each process closely, you can look at ways to streamline and improve, making your business more efficient. You can also look for ways to standardise, delegate, outsource, or automate, saving you more time and making life easier for everyone in your organisation.
Do you want to learn more about streamlining your business processes?
If you are looking to free up your schedule of office tasks that are taking you away from your business, you might consider hiring a virtual assistant. There are different types of virtual assistants that you can choose from, which allows you to make a selection based on the specific needs of your business. Working with a virtual assistant can be made easier if you follow a few helpful tips.
1. Communicate with Your Virtual Assistant
The only way that you will be confident and comfortable in working with a virtual assistant is if you build a relationship with your virtual assistant. The first step to trusting someone with important details of your business is communicating with them. You can check their testimonials and look through references to give you some background. Peace of mind comes with knowing more.
The most important part in maintaining a great working relationship with your virtual assistant is to make communication a priority. You need to communicate your expectations clearly and leave no room for confusion, because this is the only way to get the best results. Schedule in meetings with your Virtual Assistant, whether via telephone, zoom, skype or face to face (depending on location).
Regular communication will ensure that you build a fantastic relationship with your virtual assistant. It will also ensure that they become an extension of you and your business. By becoming an extension of your business, the virtual assistant will be able to reply to emails and telephone messages on your behalf which will in turn save you further time.
2. Understand Your Business
Once you know your virtual assistant, you need to make sure that they know your business. This means that your virtual assistant needs to completely understand how your business functions exactly and how their tasks make an impact. Hiring a virtual assistant with experience in your industry is often preferred, however some induction notes will also help as well. You can include the following in an induction pack or your Virtual Assistant can compile this for you as one of their first tasks:
- A couple of paragraphs about your business
– Who you are
– What services or products that you provide
– Your target market
– Office hours or times that you prefer to work
– Best contact numbers and times that you can be reached for questions
- A couple of tasks to get the Virtual Assistant started
– Include usernames and passwords
– A basic procedure that the virtual assistant can build upon
– Any key phrases or terms that you like to use in your correspondence
– Scripting for phone calls
3. Discuss About Compensation Upfront
Making payment arrangements upfront and sticking to them will ease a lot of tension in your working relationship with your virtual assistant. You can choose to pay hourly or based on tasks completed, but just be sure to work out the details before you begin working together. Money has the ability to get in the way of your working relationship, so always make sure that you stick to your payment arrangement no matter what. If you have a budget, a virtual assistant should be able to tailor a package to suit your needs.
4. Paying Attention to Time
Many virtual assistants are working on a different timezone. Always be clear about the time and timezone that you would like the work completed by. It is always a good idea to verify that they are able to respond during your normal business hours or as per the scope of the work required. This means that you may have to work in a suitable time to both yourself and your virtual assistant for meetings or questions to be answered.
Virtual Assistants pride themselves on customer service and will be more than happy to assist you with your business needs and to your requirements (within reason of course).
By starting with these 4 steps, you can be sure the commencement of a great relationship with your Virtual Assistant.