Some people would say a business's employees or products are what make them successful. While those things are critical, here at Ditto, we believe that every business's true foundations are its processes and procedures.
Without processes, there will be chaos. Your team will end up wasting precious time, energy, and resources without feeling like you're genuinely accomplishing anything.
Unfortunately, there's no cookie-cutter solution when it comes to building your own business's procedures. Every business is different, so every team's processes and procedures are different.
Last week, we sat down with the Founder and CEO of Task Train, Keith Gillette, to learn more about how he and his team get it done. If you want to listen to the podcast episode, you can download it from any podcast platform. But if you want to see some of the highlights from our conversation, read on!
Who decides the process for creating a process?
When creating a new process or developing an internal procedure, it's important to make sure everyone's opinions and workstyles are considered.
However, like with every new project, someone needs to take the lead.
Keith takes on the project lead's role when it comes to Task Train's process and procedure development. "I would say I definitely take the lead on the process and procedure development," Keith told us. "But it is a collaborative process. You absolutely have to involve the people who are doing the work in designing the work."
In Keith's experience, the more ownership you give to the people actually doing the work you're trying to develop a process for, the better your results will be.
As a manager, your role should be to set the standard by which these procedures are judged and ensure that they are documented. Don't think of it as controlling the process; think of it as keeping the pursuit of excellence on track.
Work about Work
Process means nothing if it prevents the creation of great work.
One of the problems the Ditto team runs into with clients regularly is work about work.
You're trying to figure out where things go and who is doing what when. Even though the end goal is to develop an efficient process for your business, this kind of confusion can ultimately bog down teams and slow the work.
Keith's answer to avoiding this? Value stream analysis.
"You map your critical production process, and categorize each step as to whether it's adding value to the customer, or if it's just for some internal compliance regulation or bookkeeping."
If you want to get granular, you can quantify the effort each step will take and the effort to get from one to the next. This will allow you to figure out where your big wastes are.
But even taking the first step of mapping out your processes and categorizing them can help you figure out how much time and effort each step should be given. Or better yet, if you should just eliminate them!
How do you decide what gets attention first?
So you've mapped out your critical production process and identified the areas that need improvement. But now, where do you start? Do you focus on the client-facing areas first, or internal?
"So for that, I would go to another quality management methodology, the theory of constraints." was Keith's response when we asked him this question.
When deciding where to start, Keith looks for the bottle-necks. What areas are stopping you from delivering value according to your organization's mission? Is there something specific preventing your team from achieving a throughput level that will sustain your business and provide your customers what you've promised them?
How do you maintain processes in a work-remote world?
With the COVID-19 pandemic sending everyone out of conference rooms and into home offices, it can be challenging for managers to keep their now-remote teams on track.
But with a marketing team in Canada, a development team in Bangalore, and his office in Boston, managing a remote workforce is nothing new to Keith.
For Keith and his team, the trick is finding the right balance of connection and independence.
He knows his developers will produce their best work if they can work uninterrupted for several hours. But on the other hand, he knows some people benefit from regular check-ins. To make sure everyone's needs are met, Keith and his team developed communication priority deadlines.
"Do you really need to interrupt someone with a direct Slack message, or is this a general discussion that we can have in a Slack channel or in an email? Is it something that we can develop in a Google doc together? Or is it a collaborative question that we need to solve in a scheduled meeting?"
These are the questions Keith's team asks themselves before reaching out and potentially interrupting one of their coworkers.
"That's one thing that has helped our internal communication workflow is just establishing those shared expectations for different types of communication and providing the right tool for the job."
Shaping a reliable workflow within a continually evolving company is incredibly important for both employees and clients. Strategically dedicating resources and energy to developing a system that delivers a structured workflow is necessary for every business.
If you want to hear more about Task Train's tools of communication, tech stack, and how they all work seamlessly together, check out Keith's episode of "In Systems We Trust."
After you’ve given our latest episode a listen, reach out to the team at Ditto! We can help create clarity throughout your organization by building work management systems to scale your business profitably.
Contact us today! We look forward to meeting you.