Systematization is one of the best ways to streamline business processes and improve efficiency.
Templates, checklists, roadmaps, and similar tools can all be used to economize, lighten workloads, and help one stay organized.
Below, we’ll look at the advantages of systematization, which processes can be systematized, and how to get started optimizing business processes.
Advantages of Systematization
Systematization, in short, means following a repeatable framework or process when completing tasks.
Using a checklist to complete a workflow, for instance, would be one example of systematization.
There are several advantages to systematizing business processes, including:
- Fewer errors
- Increased speed and efficiency
- Improved performance
- Better work quality
Some people might argue that certain types of business processes cannot or should not be systematized.
For instance, a designer might argue that creative tasks cannot be systematized since creative tasks are built around non-linear thinking, spontaneity, and so forth.
However, even creative work has goals and follows a repeatable process. And since such processes can be repeated, they can be systematized, if not automated completely.
That, in essence, is the core of systematization – outlining, documenting, and following a repeatable workflow.
How to Systematize Workflows
Here is a simple step-by-step process to follow when systematizing any business process:
1. Define process goals
Before actually defining the process, it is a good idea to clarify the overarching goals of the process.
For instance, if an HR professional is designing an employee onboarding process, then their goals could include:
- Integrate the new employee into their department
- Orient the new hire to the workplace, the company, and the culture
- Complete benefits, compliance, and documentation
- Clarify expectations
- Establish onboarding and training schedule
Naturally, every HR specialist will have their own specific goals and tasks to complete during onboarding, which is why it is important to create one’s own set of goals.
2. Outline repeatable tasks
Most processes involve a very similar list of tasks to complete.
To streamline and improve processes, it is a good idea to turn these tasks into a checklist, a template, or a roadmap – that is, a document that can be easily followed when actually performing the workflow.
An employee onboarding checklist, for instance, could include:
- Office tour
- Introduction to department managers
- Completing benefits package
- Setting up software accounts
Generally speaking, it is a good idea to document these procedures in the same sequence they will be implemented.
For instance, during employee onboarding, managers will usually begin with orientation activities, while training comes later on.
3. Implement and refine
Once the process has been documented, it is time to execute it.
The first few run-throughs may not be perfect, and in fact, the process will likely need tweaking over time.
However, the more often the system is followed, the more useful it will become.
Assuming the process’s goals remain the same, the workflow should eventually run smoothly and make it easier to stay organized and complete tasks successfully.
A Few Tools that Make It Easier to Systematize Business Processes
Above, we mentioned that documenting processes will make them easier to follow. Whether this documentation is for oneself or for employees, having established protocols is an essential step in systematization.
Here are a few examples of tools that can be used to systematize processes:
- Journey maps
- Process guidelines
In today’s workplace, it is very easy to systematize processes with tools such as these, since so many software programs include features such as those just listed.
Here are a few examples:
- Project management applications include a wide range of features that streamline workflows, such as checklists, kanban boards, calendars, and more
- Task management applications focus on a linear series of tasks, making them useful for business processes that are very repeatable
- HR platforms are an example of a specialized application that can be used to systematize HR-specific workflows, such as hiring, employee onboarding, payroll, attendance, and so forth
- Spreadsheets may not have as many features as other types of tools listed here, but they can easily be used to make checklists and templates
- CRM platforms, likewise, are another specialized tool that systematize processes within sales and marketing
There are many software applications that can be used to streamline workflows.
In some cases, it is best to use a general tool, such as a task management application. In others, it is better use a specialized tool, such as an HR platform or a CRM platform.
Or, in yet other cases, it is a good idea to use several tools at once. A reference document or a workflow in a task management app, for instance, may link to several checklists or templates.
Though this may seem a bit complicated, the benefits of systematization far outweigh this complexity.
In fact, the more complex the process, the more necessary and useful it is to systematize it. Complicated processes, after all, are more prone to errors and oversights, so it even more necessary to create guidelines and step-by-step processes to follow.