Getting Systems and Processes in Place as Company Grows

The Challenge Defined:

Anyone who knows me or has read my blogs, knows I’m passionate about processes. Processes aren’t the sexy side of business growth – others prefer to talk about “innovation” and “entrepreneurship” and the buzzworthy concepts like “disruption.” Those are valid concepts, but when it comes to important outcomes like “steady growth” and “no surprises,” processes are gold.  

How do you know what systems and processes you need in your business? Some are intuitive and basic, and others will be more apparent as you craft your long-term operating business plan, which answers questions like: 

  • Are you planning on expanding into other states or countries?
  • Will you operate from multiple locations?
  • What unique skillsets will your company require as it evolves?

This kind of business planning exercise identifies functions that might require processes, and that’s where things get tricky. It’s important to determine if a new/future function or enhanced level of activity is a people issues or a process issue. It’s not always easy to make that determination from the inside – outside perspectives can provide valuable insights. 

Typically, the answer is “some of both.” Generally, you’ll need new processes if the issue is one of scale. You’ll need additional people if increased oversight (of people and/or processes) is needed. For example, a significant new process may require a process manager. 

As companies grow, there’s a tendency for business leaders to staff up to manage the increased activity. That may be necessary in some cases, but ironically, that can actually increase the complexity of the company and the intensity of your headaches! 

In the long run processes and systems are the more cost-efficient approach. 

Critical Questions:

  • Does hiring more staff tend to be your knee-jerk reaction to growth?
  • What is your company’s plan for growth? What new functions are/will be needed?
  • Who can give you some perspective on whether there are processes that can address new functions? 

Why This Challenge Must Be Resolved:

The biggest economies of scale and return on investment tend to come from the integration of the right systems rather than the integration of more people.

Need help with this topic or leadership coaching? Contact Mission Critical Teams.