What is the difference between a business that regularly produces amazing work product versus a business that manages to craft just mediocre work product? The answer is in having well-developed (and well-defined), consistently executed but continuously improving processes.
What is a process? A process is a set of defined tasks needed to complete a given business activity, including who is responsible for completing each step, when, and how they do so. Though processes can seem mundane, their importance to any business cannot be overstated.
Think of your process as a strategy. The systems you put in place, when done correctly allows your business to run systematically and relatively predictably. Processes contribute to the flow of your business by offering a solid foundation for your team to work from. By leveraging defined processes, you can deliver to clients more quickly and efficiently and you are able to pivot when things come up last minute. Process minimizes redundancy, rework and overwork.
Be willing to tinker with your processes and find the best way for all involved to streamline the work, finding the path of least resistance, which in the end benefits everyone including your clients.
Speaking of clients, each client is different in their needs and “personality” so being agile and flexible to adjusting your processes is key in ensuring positive outcomes. Processes are best created collaboratively through a bit of trial and error. See what works and what doesn’t and adapt accordingly.
However, you certainly don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel every time, so share your process upfront with your clients prior to starting on a project and emphasize that following the processes that your business utilizes minimizes the chances for hiccups. It allows your team to focus and devote their time and attention to the project at hand.
Clients often underestimate the amount of time (and resources) needed to complete and implement projects, particularly when they’re not familiar with the work that needs to be done. So be clear and concise both verbally as well as in your contractual language about timelines, deadlines and expectations. If clients insist on special treatment or articulate that they don’t want the expense of extra steps, they’re not giving you the opportunity to provide your best work. Bottom line you don’t want frayed tempers, unhappy clients and team members working ridiculous hours. Having a production process and being sure all parties honor and respect it is simply essential.
Process and protocol is all about balance. Too little and you lack direction and consistency, too much and you strangle creativity and action. Just the right amount, however, can be a real competitive advantage. You want your work to fire on all cylinders, leaving clients wanting more of what you can offer them.