Benjamin Brandall – Process Street

All posts by Benjamin Brandall


7 Mistakes That Destroy Your Business Efficiency: An Expert Interview

Lately, we’ve been diving deeper than ever into the real problems companies face while scaling and systemizing their businesses. Whether that’s failing to understand why processes are important, being clueless about how to create processes, or being unable to police process adherence, we’ve covered a lot of ground on our blog. One thing we were short of, however, was the insight of hardcore process experts, real businesses, and our readers.

I got in touch with Jerilynne (better known as MamaRed) Knight, a process consultant of 30 years and an experienced Process Street user. After reading an extremely insightful comment of hers on Ben’s article about operations manuals, I interviewed her over the phone for well over two hours and learned more about the way processes work in the real world than I have from the books or articles I’ve read since joining Process Street in 2015.

Jerilynne has worked for clients of all sizes, from a company of just 10 employees to huge American corporations. What links every company she’s worked with? They waste resources because of grave inefficiencies, and then get concerned about spending money to fix their problems.

“Documented processes are a proven way to make businesses more efficient, but often they don’t want to listen. I remember one executive saying “I don’t know why we have to do this shit. No one reads it”. I leaned forward right up into his face, and I said “do you want to know why people don’t read that shit?”. I told him that people check out the process manual and find it’s too difficult to read, or that processes aren’t applied in a way that slots them into the way people expect to work. There’s no taking shortcuts when it comes to processes.”

In this article, I’m going to share with you a vast wealth of insight, experiences, and tips for improving business efficiency. Here’s some of the most deadly process mistakes to avoid.

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7 Insightful Company Policy Tips from Basecamp’s Employee Handbook

company policy

While we were writing our guide to writing an employee handbook, it was striking how few public employee handbooks there were out there to read. Obviously, most companies don’t want to expose their internal workings, and that’s sometimes for a good reason. However, you can usually trust startups (excluding Uber and Zenefits) to be transparent about their operations.

And, when it comes to transparency, Basecamp’s handbook is an amazing example. It’s both a useful resource for companies looking to write their own policies from scratch, and a genuinely interesting read. In fact, it might be the first interesting company document I’ve ever read.

The handbook got a good amount of buzz and even persuaded 1Password to build an added security feature based on how Basecamp uses the tool abroad. And so, since Process Street is passionate about keeping companies running smoothly (and yes, that does include documented policies and procedures), I thought I’d share with you a few things you can learn from Basecamp’s handbook.

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How to Organize a Content Marketing Workflow for Your Team

The following is a guest post from Gloria Kopp, a digital marketer and a business consultant from Manville city. She works as a content manager at Paper Fellows and is a regular contributor to such websites as Engadget, Academized, and Huffington Post.

A well-planned workflow is crucial to keeping your content marketing efforts on track and ensuring that you meet your goals.  You may often find that you are receiving content late from your team, that it’s not up to scratch, has been rushed, or just never materializes. The tips in this article should help you to get back onto the straight and narrow.

Before you or your team get stuck into creating more content, make sure that you’ve read through the following points to keep your projects flowing productively.

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The 15 Most Useful Evernote Alternatives for Notes, Screenshots and Documents

Evernote is the Swiss army knife of productivity tools. It does a hell of a lot, but doesn’t do anything amazingly well. Maybe it was designed to replace your need for multiple apps by rolling them all into one, but its feature bloat makes it a pain to use, and there are many Evernote alternatives you can use instead.

We’ve already written a lot about Evernote; everything from Evernote templates to a comparison against Microsoft OneNote. In this article, I’m going to suggest worthy alternatives to Evernote in the areas of notes, screenshots, documents and bookmarking. While technically Evernote does do all of these things, there are more options out there.

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The Complete Guide to Asynchronous Communication in Remote Teams

I’m writing this blog post to solve a very specific problem.

During one of our regular marketing meetings, Vinay assigned me this post and said he wants it to be written so he can link it to everyone who messages him just “hey Vinay” on Slack and waits for a response before saying anything else.

Like many managers in remote teams, Vinay’s sick of our tendencies to under-communicate. Just saying “hey Vinay” and hoping to get a synchronous chat going is a waste of time, especially if there are time zone differences, or if general busy-ness prevents a polite, fully-fledged chat.

And so, in the spirit of that real example, this article will solve the problem of communication in remote teams.

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Process Adherence: What to Do When No One Follows Your Processes

Process AdherenceProcesses aren’t just a set of documents and rules that help your business run efficiently and reduce human error…

They’re also something that needs to be part of your company culture. Process adherence is the culture side of systemization, and that makes it one of those hard to grasp concepts without many solid rules.

The culture of processes — instead of the act of writing and optimizing them — is something we’ve been meaning to cover for a while because we know it’s a big problem for our users.

Incidentally, we got an insightful comment on our article about creating an operations manual from MamaRed Knight. She outlined an age-old problem with process adherence:

“[Process adherence] is something I’ve been dealing with since I started formally creating documentation in ’83. It really must start at the top level where they don’t answer questions, they ask if it is “in the manual” and it ripples down.

It does take time because, frankly, a very teensy tiny percentage of people want to look something up98% want to ask someone and be done with it.”

In this quote, she highlights two main issues:

  • Employees don’t want to look up processes
  • Procedures are passed on informally by hearsay

In this post, I’m going to explain why processes fail because of human nature, and then unpack each reason with an explanation of how you can improve process adherence in each area.

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8 Ways to Build a Scalable Business: Ideas to Try Right Now

Imagine you single-handedly run a lemonade stand.

You get 20 customers each day and have just the right amount of ingredients for a day’s commerce. Then, out of the blue, you get coverage from the New York Times.

Suddenly, there are customers queuing down the block. You run out of sugar within an hour and have to shut down, losing out on money. That happened because the lemonade stand wasn’t equipped to scale. There was no process for hiring, onboarding new lemonade makers, or projecting the amounts of sugar and lemons you’ll need. In short, there were no processes. And no processes = no scalability.

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Emoji Aren’t Just For Fun: Using Emoji in Business Documents

Don’t you just hate reading internal business documents? 😴

They’re stuffy, dull, and aren’t optimized for human beings to read. No one opts to pop a mid-morning sleeping pill at their desk, but diving into your library of internal documents is probably about as soporific.

Here’s the strange thing:

There’s no shortage of data on the importance of visuals and how to write content that gets read, but when it comes to internal documents, it’s naively accepted that they can be incomprehensible, unappealing walls of text.

However, with emoji, processes can be clear, memorable, and visually appealing. Here’s a basic example in Process Street using Kurt Braget’s PILLARS system, combined with Emojipoint (another system of his):

What’s the point, you may ask?

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How to Create the Organizational Chart You Know Your Business Needs

Is your team confused about responsibility, hierarchy, or who reports to who?

Do you have a clear idea of where there’s room to give a promotion, or which department could do with more hires?

You need to make an organizational chart for your business, no matter what size your company is because it ensures your company can scale consistently with a clear view of its structure. It’s just as important as solid processes because it’s the single source of truth for the architecture of your business.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to create organizational charts using simple free tools, or powerful paid alternatives.

You’ll learn:

  • The definition and components of an organizational chart
  • The hidden benefits of organizational charts, and why they’re not just a formality
  • Creating a cloud-based organizational chart in Google Sheets that you can automate
  • How to use templates to create a simple org chart in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and dedicated diagram tools
  • How to use different types of charts for alternative organizational structures, like matrix and flat

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How to Write a Brilliant Job Description (2 Templates & 12 Examples)

Do you know how long a prospective candidate will spend reading your job ad?

Six seconds.

With more than three billion job listings online at any given moment, standing out from the crowd might mean the difference between finding the greatest team member possible or having to settle for the best of a bad bunch.

Data from 2015 suggests that 100 million startups are launched annually. And, as the number of competitors rockets up, the pool of available talent is diluted, leaving you with less choice.

The solution?

A clear and compelling job description. It’s more complex than it first seems, but in this article I’ll be sure to make it easy.

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