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Lesson 11 from: Optimize, Automate, and Outsource Your Business

Ari Meisel

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Lesson Info

11. Processes

Create fool-proof processes that keep your team afloat, even as your team fluctuates.
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Lesson Info


Once we've figured out all of the other stuff in terms of our communication, project management and whatnot, what's really gonna be the thing that takes your company from six to seven to eight figures and beyond is going to be processes, hands down, because really good processes are going to all but eliminate, yes, eliminate training. I would actually argue that a lot of the training that we see in companies is actually there to compensate for bad process. So for example, you have a retail situation, right? And especially nowadays, we don't see checks very often. I promise you that at most retail locations that are of any decent size have SOPs written down, they have checklists, like this is how you take a credit card, this is how you close out a sale, this is how you open an register and whatnot. But they probably don't have something about checks because it happens so rarely, and I've seen this with training. So when somebody comes on a job and their manager or supervisor or whatever...

is training them and then that person's like, "Well, what about if we get a check?" The manager who's been there for 10 years says, "Yeah, it doesn't happen that often. If we get a check, just come over to my office and I'll take care of it." It's like, okay, great, but what if you're not there, what if you're fired? And then what if somebody else comes in and they're like, "Hey, how come you weren't trained on how to use a check?" So a lot of processes are there to, or sorry, a lot of training is there to compensate for bad processes. But when we have really, really solid processes, we don't need training. You can bring in people off the street and have them run through a process. But the problem here, well, there's a couple things. So one is when I ask companies, "How many of you have processes documented?", you get some hands that go up and then you say, "Does everybody in the team and the company know where those processes are?" Some hands start to drop. It's probably in a binder over on someone's desk that nobody ever opens and they don't want to be seen going to open it either because then that means they don't know what they're doing. And of those ones that are documented and everybody knows where they are, how often are they updated and tested, if ever? Most of the hands will drop at that point. Most processes are recorded incorrectly. The typical way that people will do a process or document a process is they'll show you what they're doing, whatever it might look like, and then they say, and maybe it's a screencast, maybe I'm writing it down and they say, "Okay, here so and so, go do the process that I just showed you." No good because you have shortcuts, you have things in your brain called heuristics, you've made those gaps, you've filled in the gaps over the years just 'cause you've been doing it so long. So I have a methodology called the Process Optimization System, yes, I know, it's POS, Process Optimization System, and it flips it on its head. So now what we're gonna do is we're gonna show you the process. I'm gonna show you how to do the thing. I'm gonna screencast it. I'm gonna show you in person, whatever it might be. And now I'm gonna say to you, "You write the checklist of what you saw and then take that checklist, go to a third person hopefully and have them run through the process as you have written it." I'm here to tell you that it will never work. That person will never be able to get through that process. But that's a great thing because now we can fix it at a very granular level because here's what's gonna happen. We're gonna get to step three and step three says, "Open the payroll document for November." This third party's gonna say, "What payroll document? Where is it? Do I need a password?" You know, whatnot. So we never want to refer to assets like a document in a relative sense, it always has to be absolute. So instead of saying the payroll document it should just say, click this link to open the document. The password is in your password manager. Okay, cool. Now we get down to step six and it says, "When you're done with this step, click the big red button." This person says, "I don't see a big red button." And person A who wrote the process says, "Oh yeah, that's right 'cause I'm an admin, you're not, you're a guest. We gotta fix that in the process so that you have access to that." And then we get down to the very last step. And it says, "When you're done, send this over to Richard in accounting." Now, first of all, you want to make somebody irreplaceable, name them in a process. Just as we refer to assets in an absolute sense, we want to do the opposite with people. We never want to refer to people in an absolute sense. We don't want to name someone. We want to refer to them relatively as in a role. So when you're done with this document, give it to this project, or the project manager for this project in accounting whatever it might be. When we do this and we go through the process mapping in this way, you will now have written a process that is so perfect and so bulletproof that you have shown that not only does it work at a secondary level, but it actually works at a tertiary level, meaning that you could literally grab somebody off the street and have them run through your process without any error at all, bye, bye training at that point. And if you're thinking, oh, my process is too complicated for this. I have done this for a 182 step loan origination process for one of the largest mortgage banks in the world and we literally had five people with no experience at all run through the process without a single error. If that wasn't good enough, once we've written a process in this way, automation becomes so obvious because the triggers and actions are just right there in front of you. And when we've done that, now we can outsource like it's nobody's business. Writing processes in this way will completely change the way that your business operates, grows and becomes more resilient in the eventual absence that will take place in a company that is trying to make people more replaceable. Once you've built out these processes, you gotta store them somewhere and Word docs are not the right place. So this is actually a really important point. You really want to use a dedicated tool that's meant for storing processes because it's not just about storing them, you actually can run through the processes in those places. So in a Word doc or even like a paper binder, you're gonna have the process and you can look at the whole checklist, but you can't actually run through it. And honestly, in a Word doc, there's nothing to stop somebody from skipping a step and just going to the bottom and checking it off or even moving steps around on purpose or by accident. So the tool that I like for this is Process Street, and there are a few out there but I really like Process Street. It's very straightforward and it integrates really well with my favorite automation platform, Zapier, to automate things in and out of the processes. When you put it in Process Street, now you can actually run the checklist there. So it's like, hey, every time somebody buys something, we need to go through this checklist. So the purchase can trigger a new checklist that somebody then has to go through and they cannot skip to the end. They have to complete it in the proper steps. They have to upload the photo of the clean room that they just went through before they can go to the next step or whatever it might end up being. And that is a really important distinction between just having a process documented and actually having a process management system. So what I want you to do now is go off, find a process in your business, you don't have to find them, they're probably gonna smack you in the face 'cause they're everywhere, use the POS system and document your process so that you could bring in somebody from anywhere and have them run through it in this way without making a single error and begin that incredible foundation that you're gonna need of building systems and processes that replace what you do well.

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Mona King

Excellent real world solutions to problems that entrepreneurs encounter. This will truly save time to be used in other areas of life and improve business processes.

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