The word Process has gained a bad reputation in entrepreneurial circles as it often associates with bureaucracy. To follow a predetermined process, might seem stale and the opposite of agility. But to achieve scale, your business requires implementation of Standard Operating Procedures or SOP.
So, what exactly is an SOP?
In general terms, standard operating procedures is a step-by-step set of instructions guiding team members on performing tasks consistently. It helps create uniformity as you establish, maintain, and grow your business.
I admit I took SOP out of my mind from my business management class until my first corporate job. On day one, receiving an extensive manual with checklists and instructions, I learned how to handle just about every situation that could arise. From internal administration on how to enroll for benefits, to how often we had to meet with our managers, I had procedures. I didn’t recognize it right away, but now I know that the requirement to meet periodically was a key SOP. It was implemented by management to make sure we were tracking on our objectives and the company’s vision.
At DCC Accounting, we implemented processes on how to carry out our technical work. However, we neglected organizational areas such as Marketing, PR, HR and others. Once we started implementing processes, we began to see our business change.
Are you ready to implement some processes to help your business thrive?
Here is a blueprint for a process for defining and testing your product or service vision and roadmap.
Outlining the vision for your product or service
Keep in mind, the vision you have for your business does not need to be static. This could actually lead to complacency and, in some cases, even the cause of business failure. So recognizing that things can evolve and change can be part of the processes. In this way, you are open to discovering pivots, new product opportunities, and open your business to sustainable growth. This is more relevant in this age of exponential technological advances and fast economic change. If it feels paralyzing at first, start with your short-term vision and how you will get there. Then, layer your long-term vision with an open canvas to apply to later.
Determining requirements to support your vision
After developing your product or service roadmap, determine what and who you need to help you get there. Start by outlining all the specialties necessary to support your product or service. This may mean conducting some research and a lot of listening. Begin with web searches on how other B2B companies are getting things done. From there, overlay your vision and continue to build it out.
Next, assign responsible participants to each of the areas you uncovered to be necessary. As a heads up, many of these responsibilities will initially fall on your own head. That’s ok! Eventually, you will hire others to take on those tasks. For now, the goal is to determine the accountability areas and the processes each one will be carrying out to fulfill your product or services roadmap.
Setting up Objectives
Next, continue by adding objectives and mission statements to all specialties or business areas. These objectives give focus to the business areas. They also clarify how each specialty contributes to the overall goal. Then, establish benchmarks for these objectives for evaluation and key learnings.
Taking a pulse on the vision
A crucial step for your process is to schedule periodic meetings with all participants. During these sessions, participants can discuss what’s working and what is not, and decide if it is time to correct the current plan of action. The meeting rhythm is probably the step of the processes that made the most significant impact on our business. Definitely one of the most valuable takeaways from the book Scaling Up.
Two books inspire many small business owners, including DCC, in implementing processes in their organizations and, in that way, pave the way to scale and growth: Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t (Rockefeller Habits 2.0) by Verne Harnish and The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber. They are worth the read!
Standard Operating Procedures are an essential aspect of a successful business. DCC Accounting helps clients navigate to help businesses thrive.