165: Processes: The Inside Track on Internal Documentation

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Contact info:

Owen@SweetProcess.com

www.SweetProcess.com

www.SweetProcess.com/PFTI

Bio:

Owen McGab Enaohwo is the CEO and Co-founder of SweetProcess, an easy-to-use software that enables company executives and their employees to collaborate together to quickly document and/or improve their standard operating procedures, processes, and policies.

Owen was previously the CEO of Hire Your Virtual Assistant (H.Y.V.A.), a virtual assistant service for small business owners. His specialties include business development, negotiation, operations management, and more.

This is profit from the inside, with Joel Block insights to give your business the inside track. And now here's your host, Joel Block. How often you wake up in the morning and you worry what happens? If something happens to me, will my team be able to take over for me? Are Our processes and procedures good enough for others to come in and take over? Is Our documentation in order, and where do we even start? Answer those questions. Owen mcgab and now Ohen, welcome to show. So, Joe, thanks for having me on the show and I'm glad to ask this question. So lead the way and I go ahead, and it's all that I pronounce your name Right. That's the step number one. It was closed. So it's Owen mcgab and now will but that's good. Close enough for a prize? Yeah, close enough, all right, good. Thank you, hey man. Well, listen, so you're a you're an expert in in process and documentation of those procedures and you know, I get all the reasons that you the little companies need to do a bigger companies are usually on their way. What are you seeing in the world of middle size companies? Are they do they generally have good documentation about process and procedures. Are Are there problems that they need to be paying more attention to? So just so quick, you know background Soli the listener. Not So. I'm more of a provider of a software that makes it easy for employees to collaborate together the document procedures right. So not necessarily a my process consultant, because those are two different things. So where we find people coming to issues with this is that it might be, you know, they've been running their business and they don't have procedures in place and so they come to a situation where, you know, they knew they need to have these things documented and it's all in their head and so they're the only ones that have these instructions and their word. Okay, what happens? If I'm not here, nobody's going to know how to get work done. Or it might be they've started documenting procedures, but they have it in maybe by office binders or piece of paper to know what is even referring to you. And now they want to get into a place where, you know, it's online and people can go to one central position place online to find this documents and have that continuous improvement, if, if at all, that you know, it's always continuously improved. The other extreme of this that we see is as sometimes people maybe they have documentation in place, but they're using software that really is so hard to use the people are not even using it, so they hardly reference it. So it's runs different spectrum of the of the issue. So so what do you what do you notice? Is Like the lowest level of organization, with that be like a word documentor is, or even a level that's lower than that. But there's lower than that is not even having anything in the first place. It's all in someone's brain. Yeah, and then the next level is they have some word document or piece of paper or offer, is buying. They're kind of thing. And so that's usually the lower levels of this. And and what what like one of the choices the companies have, because I would imagine even a lot of companies that are doing, you know, a hundred million dollars in sales have stuff in binders. You know, the the owner of the company thirty years ago. That's what they set up and that's just kind of how it continues to work. So what are some of the funny processes you did the funny documentation systems that you've seen companies? Have there been any? The funniest I've seen is a situation where, I mean it's it was funny to me, but the person was going through was a nightmare. They were just depending on somebody who's been in the company for so long to, you know, whenever something they they need to get some work done. That person is like the person who remembers how it's done, because they had that kind of memory to reflect and remember stuff. But the person left and now it was chaos, right, and they didn't take that time to document things in the first place. So that was the system they were relying on. The...

...person left. Back to square one. So I guess this kind of information, it's called institutional knowledge, is tribal knowledge. Yeah, I mean that's what I've always heard people call this. This is not it's not easy to do this, I mean because it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of energy to get it right. It may take several people. You know, companies tend not to make time for this, and I guess it's like not making time to write a will, you know, because as you wish you had when you need it. But are there any ways that companies can can shave the amount of time that it takes from documenting this stuff to be less mean? What are what are some of the tricks of the trade here? So I'm going to give you. If you're a Gamer, you think of things like cheat codes rights, because first of all I'm going to share some cheat codes with the audience. Of Day. They didn't know how to get started but seemed to is yes, this is not the most sexiest part of the business right, because it when it comes to going to grant and get more sales, figuring out the next marketing tactic. That's all. We all excited about that. But even that, the fact that it's not the most success part of the business, but is the most critical, because you can't grow and skill the business without having these, you know, Sop Standard of printing procedures in place that people can actually reflect on. So where do you start? Instead of just going and get in started out, stay, let's take an inventory of what you do first of all and then figure out. Okay, yes, what are those recurring tasks that we do quite often over and over again, before you even start documenting anything, ask yourself the question, as well as ask your teammates, your managers, and do it really have to be doing this? Because yes, you've been doing that task over and over again, but without having this critical question of asking you when you need to do this, then you're going to go ahead and start, you know, documentary stuff that you shouldn't really be doing. So I wanted to have that reflection do you need to do it or not? If you don't need to do it, the first thing to do is eliminated. It's no need to start documentary stuff that you don't need to do. Now, I'm assuming now you've taken an inventory of how in all the different recurring task you're doing. You've now asked yourself the question do you need to do it or not, and you're left with those recurring tasks that you have to do quite often. And now those recurrent tasks are broken down to two parts, the ones that are income generating, meaning they bring in revenue to the business, and then the other ones that they're not so necessarily income generating, but they're more like required to produce the output that you want to deliver to your customer. So obviously people might be excited. So okay, let's go ahead and start documenting the the procedures for those income tenuity in tasks. But I'll say, Oh, pump your break hold on, don't do that just yet, because if you do that, document how you know those income genuitying activities, and then you get new employees or whatever to take over those and you bring him more customers, you're going to run into an issue where you have on this other side, where is the production of, you know, the things output you want to deliver to your customers? You've not figured out those out yet and you've not been able to remove all the bottom nexs. Now you have more customers to annoy, more customers to not deliver the results to. So why don't we focus on the bottom next first, right. So what is the biggest bottom neck of your time right now? And it's not necessarily income generating right. That's why I will start with why do I want you to start with that first? Because if you document how that is done and you can properly delegate the task someone else, you can then look at the next bigger Boto neck of your time and repeat that same Acess so that eventually you get to the point where you feed up enough time by documenting all is different. Button next, and you've assigned the task of people to actually start working on. You can now start focusing on the income generating task and doing that process of identifying and documenting. Now the next thing will be what exactly, what exactly, how do document the procedure? Let's let we'll get to that. Let okay, let's we'll get to that the second. You know, I would think that buy a company starts to get pretty big, fifty, a hundred employees, that they would have a lot of...

...this stuff written down because they had to do something right to get to the place where they were, you know, pretty good size and they had a certain amount of repetitiveness to make their machine work. Is What we're really talking about? Businesses or machines that generate money and they're doing the same things over and over. So are we talking about them re examining previously documented processes, or are you know, or do you see, that big company is frequently just have this like mythical code of of ideas that they're supposed to do and there's really not any written documentation at all. Mean, I mean, what do you see? So if they're in that position where you already have, as this team documents. If the whole idea of examining everything applies, they still have to examine what they have in place and still ask themselves the question, do we still need to do this or not? Because if they don't need to do it, then issue. That shouldn't be any reason why they would now are export or import these existing documents they have, may being paper format or word format or maybe on some shape when they have into another software especially they don't have to be doing it. That's why I said they need to always start by asking the stuff do we need to do this and if they don't need to do it, eliminate everything that they don't need to do. Right. So, moving to the point where we're talking about how do you do in fact document procedures? Let me I'm assuming this person this doesn't have existing documents in place and they're trying to start document in procedures. Right. So people might start thinking, oh, they have to create a encyclopedia where you have all the steps in there, with all the details in there, and I tell people, pump your breaks. No, we mean to start with the idea of continuous improvement. That's the mindset you have to install in your brain and install that mindset of continuous improvement in the brains of your managers and your teammate. With that mindset in place, it gives you the permission to know your starting from version one point. Nowhere it's going to be bare bones, right. So what I mean by bare bones is, like I call it literally, a minimum viable procedure. All you need to have is the title of the procedure and title of each of the steps, and the best time to document that is when you're doing the task, because when you're doing the task, the remembrance of you know what you need to do is the highest. So just going to your so I'm just showing you the strategy to use, regardless of whether use our software, street process or not. So let's say you're doing it on a word document or whatever. As you're doing the task, you going to the word document enter the title the procedure as you're doing the task, that entering title of each of the steps. Don't worry about the details US yet. So how do you go to the details and get the details in there? This is where I so can now involve your employees, especially you, maybe your manager, who you might have trained verbally on how to do the work before, or someone employe who has done to work. And so, okay, I've documented this procedure of how the task is done. Next time you're walking on the task, please open up this document and going to that document and start helping me to fill out the details. And don't worry about making details grand. No, we just want to capture maybe some scream shot, some screenshots of what you're doing and some text of what the person has to do. And that way it goes from that version one point, no way, was just bare bones, a minimum Bible procedure, to some details, fielding and and and so it becomes a continuous improvement thing. And if they start getting improved from there, the next thing is, okay, how do you then get the feedback that you can use to improve the documents? When your employees are working on tasks, they need to also have this documents right in front of them, because a lot of the feedback, that the improvement they get our intuition of how to improve stuff happens not when they're reviewing the document, but reviewing is just to know hook how do I do it? It comes from when the work is actually being done right, and so you accounting on the employees to as they're doing the work, they see some maybe some maybe it was five steps for this very task, but they realize maybe we don't need this five steps, you only need three steps in there be able to passe that feedback back...

...to you that you'll manage all yourself, go back to to that existing document and go ahead and, you know, improve it all. They might find some new ways of doing things that would not encountered for and so that's why I say it's more of a continuous improvement thing which, if you have the right software in place, it manages all that, from the documentation to the you know, I could really see how how bigger companies, if they have the right kind of platform in the steps were kind of laid out. Then the next time this the procedure is is done, somebody could add detail to the steps. Yeah, and that's the kind of continuous improvement. And, by the way, coming from the private acquity, the money world, you know companies that have these kinds of procedures in place are more valuable than companies that do not. I mean this is a very this is a very important thing that I think a lot of companies overlooked. They may have something in place, but they probably don't have the kind of procedures that larger, the largest companies have, and that's kind of we have to aspire to. Its not to tie the hands of people, but really for the purpose of, you know, of making make it easier to onboard new people and helping people to do their job efficiently so they can follow the steps and people might so that having documents in place makes the company more robotic and, you know, not allowed in to be fluid, but I would add you in the opposite of that. At first of all, if you are a new employee to a company and they allow you to be part of that process, says of improving how the work is done, they take feedback from you too. Okay, you do the work is this is how we restruct you how to do it, but we also want your feedback so that if you come across ways to improve it, we need to know that so we can put that into the underline document. How else is your voice being heard other than that? You bring your you're actually being involved in making improvements to the work you do every day and that is taken back to the underlying documents and improved right. So I feel that is actually a culture that encourages your voice to be heard. The other thing about this is that people might think, oh, the fact that you're documenting procedures for how your work is done is whatter, but I think it's actually the most creative thing to do because, first of all, if you do a task, let's say every three months, the next time you want do the task, the first thing you have to do is remember, okay, how do I do this task? And maybe you don't have the documents in place in front of you now. You're wasting time thinking of how you're going to do the task, of how you did it three months ago. But if you have the documents right there in front of you while you're about to do the task, then there's no time being spent remembering anything. You don't have to do any context which you just jump right into it and start doing the work. And now where's the creative part coming into this? Is that, as you're doing the work, because you don't have to remember how it's done, you the creative juice start to flow because you don't start asking you so, whow we even doing this step in the first place. What if I eliminate this step and I do something else? What if I use some form of automation in here? So now you get to be able to engage more in the creative side of improving how how the work can be done and you can actually improve that document as well that you're using for the basis to get the work done. You know, it's amazing to me how much energy we human beings spend reinventing the wheel over and over and over again. So somebody ask you a question, you were an email with an answer. Somebody actually the same question. A week later, you write another email instead of having the answer in a library ready to go, and you shoot it out and boom done. Same thing with the procedures. I mean, I did this procedure two weeks ago. I don't really remember how to do it today. Some they need to make it up again and we're constantly waste a lot of time. And one of the things we talked about on this show is really using technology and elevating human beings. If we could have all the minutia done in a way and if it was categorized the document the way you're describing, people would be freed up to do much higher level work. And not only that, because you you have this document in place,...

...it allows you, I feel like it allows you to be promotable because if you as a you know, entry level employ whatever, you have documents in place of how you do your work. Now that allows the person a both of you say okay, yes, we can get someone else come in and do this and we can move you to the next level, manager level. Now you have things in place on how you manage your directly posts. It allows you to give them advanced in your career much easily because people can come in, take over and you move to the next stage in the career. Not only that, people might also be saying, okay, I'm I'm sold into all this whole thing of documenting. I understand I can start, you know, improving the documents and have this who continuous improvementing. But what if we don't have time? I don't have time personality to do this at my employees on even have time personal to do this. Well, there's another act answer to that. There are people call, literally, if you google them, process consultants. All they do is they coming to a business and they evaluate. You know what you have in place help you figure out what you need to eliminate and they also help you document procedures and even optimize the ones you already have. So if you if you don't have the time to do it yourself, you can get process consultants who can, yes, for fee. So it's going to be more expensive than you, you and your employees did it yourself, but it can come in and help you do it. Yeah, you know, I'm sitting thinking. If companies want to do this kind of documentation, you'd say, you have a software. How does the software work? Like it does it? Does it provide privacy so this department of the see what that department's doing? I mean, I mean companies, can employees steal the ideas out of the software? I mean, how do you how does this sort of thing work? So I'll for sweep process specifically. You can set it up so that, first of all you create like departments. So if you have a sales department, so we call those teams, you have a sales department, marketing department, customers support department. You create all those different departments and then with in those departments to set up managers, the managers of people who have the ability to approve changes to the documents, because everybody's feet process. As long as you have access to the document. We encourage you to be able to make changes, because we want you to be you know this. The company's always everybody's involved with the changes, but at the same time giving managers the oversight. So now when you have these teams in place, so that means that every everybody can propose changes, but not only the manager can accept the changes. Yeah, because we don't want it to be just left to the owner of the company or own or to the managers. So we set it up so that everyone can propose this change. If you see a change, make the change now. If you don't, if you're not as bold enough to make the change, while you can always always suggest in terms of comments and stuff on the documents, say Hell, I think this need to be change, but to be honest, we want everyone to make the change while at the same time given the managers oversight so that they approved the changes. Now, the next thing you ask was, you know, preventing people from getting access to everything. So by the fact that you have teams in place, people can only see stuff that has to do with that specific team. They won't probably have access to it, to the entire company. Now, obviously you're going to have people who are like admins that have access, not not, not that many of them. You the owner the company, you have access to everything. You might have a chief of greating officers that have access to all the different teams or whatever. But for the most but most employees, the access will be limited to the team they are part of and they only have the ability to make improvements to the documents that are related to their role in that company. Are there like proposed templates for procedures that everybody kind of always does like this? Your software come with pre predesigned templates for here's how you do this and then you kind of customize it to your needs. But the framework has already built or it is. Everything have to start from scratch. Now everything has to start us from scratch. The first of all, even when you're using sweet process, you can you can stop from scratch, obviously, or be if you already have existing procedures or that you already have you can literally import...

...it. Click a butting to import it into sweet process and then you can, know, design it or improve upon it the way you want. So we got in templates. I do have an offer after this, when we're done with this, but we you have. It's basically is as a template that you can actually download and be able to tweak and improve upon from there. But I'll talk about that later. But to the answer, yes, we do have templates that people can get access to. Yeah, I mean it just makes sense that that a lot of things have been thought through by a lot of different people over time. Now you may need to be customized to my particular company, but the way that we do think this is probably not entirely different for everybody else. So just sort of seems to make sense to me. The thing would templates. Usually it's the most benefit is gotten when it's focus on the specific industry. So I give you an example. There is a I think there's a refer a partner of ours that focus is on basically restaurants or whatever. Right. So because this person works with a lot of restaurants, they are able to say, okay, across the board, every time I'm working with a restaurant and I'm as I'm a pross consultants for them, this is what the kind of procedures, the process is. The policies that they usually have right. And so for me, industry specific standpoint, when that person is able to document procedures and process for this restaurant client they're working with, most likely is going to be the same for another restaurant client that they're working with. And so the restaurant clients, when they sign up for our software and they get access to his templates, they can be able to hit the ground running and be able to tweak those templates to match their own needs. But it usually is better when it's industry specific. You know, you get on saying yeah, of course, totally, totally with you on that. And and this this applies the companies typically that are twenty, twenty five people, I mean a little bit larger companies, that are really ready to start really a full documentation process. And and this is just an ongoing process. It's not like you sit down for a weekend, you do it, it's over, it's this is the kind of thing that it just it just goes on and on and on, right, and things are always getting better. Yeah, and the realities that I mean for the most part, you will say, it applies to this companies that have, you know, twenty or more employees because at this stage they figured out, like I said earlier before the call, they figured out their sales in marketing and now they really trying to figure out how to scale operations. I make sure that they're delivering the output to their customer at the at the clip they wanted to be, at the standard level. So now you need to have for the things you cannot automate. You need to make sure that this procedures in place so that people who are doing the work follow the instructions and get to deliver the results of the way you want. But in the beginning stages where people have less, you know, less than ten employees, five or less, at that point, usually the issue is really not frigging out operations. It's really more about figuring out to get customers in at a you know, I'm figuring out to get sales. So they don't tend to focus too much on the productional operation side of things. But that doesn't stop a company at that stage from actually documenting stuff. I would say it's even better if you start the mindset from the very beginning. Once you find out as a small business owner that you do in a lot of things yourself. Over and over again. Just start documenting it so that at the time you're ready to start having people come and take over, you're not starting to think of it. Then you already started it from the very beginning and you have this documents in place. It wondo initially is you loose following the documents yourself to get the work done, but now, as you're scaling, you have this documents already existent on body becomes skisier. Employees, the new employees you're bringing in, can follow these documents that you already have in place. Yeah, you know, I would imagine that the hardest first step for any company would be for the owner, the original owner, to get this process started. Once it started, you know people that work for the company, managers, those kinds of people who've worked at other companies. They're used to this sort of thing, they probably like this sort of thing and they want to do more of it. So I would imagine that it gets easier over time. So...

...one trick that I've seen that people used to make sure they don't keep getting ask the same question over and over again is when someone ask you the question, I've you checked see process, for instance, like if you're using a software like hous it then begins to send it trigger to everybody that okay, before I go ask my manager a question, if I go ask my buss a question, we got to go check that repository that we have, the tool we use that stares everything. And now that culture is being built. You send that trigger in the people's mind you every time they want to look for something, they go look into the software represident see do we have this procedure in there and they go check it. They don't have it in there. Now that sends opportunity for them say, okay, we don't have this in there. I checked already. Okay, manager or boss, we need something, okay, going down and start documenting it yourself. We can improve upon it from there. So that's kind of a hack to make sure that you're not always been asked the same question over and over again. But on top of that is an opportunity to sort when they go into the software and they don't see the document, they can start the process of creating it and you can go in there and improve upon what they've done. Yeah, you know what I what I really like about this. I like the idea that it involves, involves everybody at every level of the team that you know, everybody in the matter, whether your brand new or otherwise, can contribute to this project in some material way, and that's that's an unusual thing that you know that a beginner or a company WHO's doing early stage steps, whatever, can contribue be to a process, because they're the ones that are in the weeds doing the process. So kind of a kind of an interesting approach. Yeah, whatever else you want me to cover out, I'm glad to go ahead up. Well, you know what, listen, the theme of our show, the promise of our show, is is the inside track, the the best, fastest and shortest way to get something done. This is absolutely the best, fast in George Way to get, you know, documentation, process development, documentation development done, whether it's your software and other software, although your software it sounds really fascinating. I want to check it out. But when people deliver on the promise of the show, we call those people advantage players, and you're an advantage player because you delivered on the promise and I certainly appreciate you sharing what you know about the developing processes, the importance of it, and I can just tell you from the money business and if you don't have these kinds of processes, your companies are worthless. Thanks. So the words more and, you know, follow on. You know if that makes some sense to you. So thanks for being on our show. So let me leave the listeners with it tip, because I've shown you how to do it on your own. But sometimes it might be that you want to actually see something. So I said it's earlier. I'm going to offer you guys templates of stand up a pretty procedures, so about fifty two of them. To get access to this, go to sweet processcom follow Pfti, so sweet as in candy process, as in process, sweet processcom full p FTI, which is stretful profit from the inside. All right. Well, listen that. That'll be just awesome in there, and they'll get templates in different ways to kind of think about how these processes work. Yes, so to get a bunch of templates and they can go ahead and tweak it and improve it from there. Well, I'M gonna be the first one to download it. I'm gonna, I gotta take a look at it, because I could I could use a few more processes in my life. So let's say, man, thank you very much, for being on the show. We appreciate having you and we'll be in touch. Thanks, Yo, appreciate it. You've been listening to profit from the inside with Joe Block. For more insights and to learn more, is it Joel Blockcom? How about a shout out and a huge thanks to our podcast show producer David Wolf and the team at Auto Vida Studios. Profit from the inside wouldn't be possible without these wonderful...

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