When I talk to financial advisers about the challenges they face, typically these challenges fall into two categories: PEOPLE or PROCESS. Even with a business with one staff member you need to have structure in place so that you both know who is doing what, by when, and why.
Who – Who in the company is meant to do this job? Do you have an organisation chart to understand the different roles? Even if it is just you, remember to say to yourself, this is the job of “client services”. This trains your mind not to do this when you do have a team. Go one step further and set up an email address firstname.lastname@example.org direct your client questions here… even if you answer them yourself. It is training yourself and your clients the process you want to be followed.
What – What is the task and what are the detailed steps to complete this task. Ideally, this is saved in an online operating manual with videos and screenshots. Do something twice, make a process. Have a discipline to review your processes annually to ensure they are not out of date. Remember your team is often better at documenting processes than you are, particularly when they are the 'doers'. Ask them to record videos when you delegate work; these can be turned into processes later.
When – When does the task need to be done? Setting clear, achievable timelines allows you to delegate. Falling behind? Communicate the progress with your client as they do not know. There can be leverage in project work. FDS in June, Tax planning in May, Tax reporting in October etc. Project work allows for specialisation for a period before moving to the next project.
Why – Why do we do it this way… This is the context for the task. It is important to know why people are doing their job… What is the overall contribution? I can do no better than the story of JFK and the Janitor…
President John F. Kennedy was visiting NASA headquarters for the first time in 1961. While touring the facility, he introduced himself to a janitor who was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at NASA. “I’m helping put a man on the moon!”
The janitor got it. He understood the vision, his part in it, and he had purpose.
Great Processes have the following characteristics
Followed by All – even the lead adviser follows them, they don’t use shortcuts even if they know the process.
Simple – The process should be simple and documented so it can be followed by all
Measurable – It's great to say I have 80% of my core processes documented and I review them annually.
Business Owners typically say they have a problem with a person, however, without documented process in your business, I would say you are more likely to have a Process Problem.