Home working – The Perfect Process

Everything’s changed. The way we work, rest, and play. It’s easy to dwell on the misfortunes of the current situation. So what can we do to inject some positivity into the business? How can we build some momentum and confidence? How can we turn some of the current threats into opportunities?

Process Perfection

One of the things we’ve been doing at 2able is to revisit the tasks that we don’t always have time to focus on in the office when we are busy. Top of the list is “Processes and Procedures”.

The Process is what we want to do, and the activities required to achieve the task or objective. A process can be seen as THE WHAT.

The Procedure is a more detailed look at how to achieve each specific task/step within a process. A procedure can be seen as THE HOW.

There’s a good reason why these tasks are overlooked when we’re busy. If you’re not “into” management, operations, measurement, analysis and improvement, then it can be a bit of a chore. However, once you’ve realised the benefits of having good procedures in place, it will inspire you to create more, and continually improve the way we do business. And before you ask, there is no such thing as the perfect process, but it’s good to be prepared and have a “best practice” idea for the important parts of your business.

Process Time

With the work place moving to “home”, we are now encouraging staff to set aside 3 hours a week to look at existing or new Processes within the business, and to check them, test them and update them.

We setup real world simulations, and approach them as real situations, following existing processes, while monitoring and documenting as we go. The idea is to find weak spots, issues, delays, etc, and improve the procedures each time we test. The benefits are two-fold, we get to improve our procedures, and team members get a better understanding of the process. 

Disaster Plans

A typical example this week is website disaster recovery. How do we handle the situation when a website is destroyed and needs to be recovered? How do we plan for this, even if it has never happened? I won’t go too deep into the technical details. We have multi level back-ups, in multiple locations, and these need to be tested. We take a copy of a live site, put it on a development domain, and then destroy it. It could be a whole file system wipe, a data corruption, a database error, or a malicious intrusion. Either way, we need to get it back up and working, within a specific time frame, and identify why it happened. 

  • What happens if your server is destroyed? 
  • How do you deal with corrupted databases on a transactional ecommerce site? 
  • What happens if a client manages to accidentally delete all of their data?
  • How long until everything is back online and working?

It’s not necessarily fun to do, but it’s important that the team know how to handle this situation. 

Signing Off

Another example on the “Process checklist” was email signatures.

In the UK, businesses are required by law to include specific information on their email footers. Stipulated by the Companies Act 2006, company communications – including letterheads, order forms, company website and all business emails – must include the following information:

  • Company name
  • Company registration number
  • Place of registration (e.g. Scotland or England & Wales)
  • Registered office address

Failing to comply with these requirements could be breaking the law – and could bring a fine of £1,000. 

We found that by managing the business email signatures via a centralised signature manager tool was a worthwhile upgrade to our current system. 

Looking Forward

Get everyone involved in creating “The Business Guide”, and the art of knowledge sharing will become part of day to day work. We’ve got a long list of processes to look at, here’s the next 10, in no particular order:

  • The sales process
  • Software update scheduling & testing
  • IT purchasing
  • Encryption of data while out of office
  • Client onboarding 
  • Client support
  • Social media content creation
  • Employee support
  • Time tracking

and of course

  • Process improvement

Always Learning

So while it might not be the most exciting time for everyone, and looking at processes and procedures might not be everyone’s favourite task, the idea of improving the business, optimising the machine, and making a difference company-wide is a worthwhile task that can instil a degree of pride, and deserves to be encouraged and rewarded. In these times of uncertainty and disruption, we all need a bit of encouragement and reward.

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