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How to Write a Procedure: 13 Steps to Eclipse Your Competition

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Knowing how to write a procedure is a key skill for anyone looking to build a successful business. Procedures are vital to consistent success for many of the same reasons that processes are important – they let you reliably repeat your successes, isolate and correct your mistakes, and create a business model that lets you scale your operations.

If you don’t know how to write a procedure then you’re dead in the water. Get it right, and the resulting efficiency boosts can put you on track to eclipse your competitors.

Read on to learn the 13 steps to writing your business’ procedures effectively, in a way that they will actually be followed instead of getting read once and then forgotten.

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Processes, Policies and Procedures: Important Distinctions to Systemize Your Business

Processes_Policies_and_Procedures-_The_important_distinctions_to_systemize_your_businessCommunicating the right things at the right times is vital in all walks of life.

Within a complex business with multiple moving parts, the value of this communication is high and the effects of poor communication are potentially catastrophic.

As Professor Allen Webster puts it:

Without communication and the team effort it permits, the successful completion of any important project can be jeopardized.

There are two elements of communication here to be addressed:

  1. How effectively we are understanding key concepts and terms
  2. How effectively we are utilizing and communicating those concepts and their effects to our teams

The three concepts we’re going to tackle specifically in this article are processes, policies and procedures.

What are the differences between them? How do we effectively utilize each? How do we, at Process Street, utilize these concepts within our organizational structure?

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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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Workflow Analysis: Apple’s Secret Ingredient to Success

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Apple is well-known for being innovative and immensely successful, to the point where the company is worth $750 billion (and counting). However, without a healthy dose of workflow analysis they would’ve crumbled under their own business model back in the late 1980s.

We could no longer afford the limitations that went with our product development processes… The lack of a formal new product development process led to confusion, wasted time, and often caused project teams to ‘re-create the wheel’” – Jackie Streeter (then VP of Engineering at Apple), Apple Rethinks Core Process: Improves Cycle Time

workflow analysis - apple

The simple truth is that any company (no matter the size or success) needs to regularly review its workflows and processes in order to keep them up to date and efficient. Tasks should be updated, improved, and automated where possible to save time and money, but without using the best workflow management software around to analyze and improve your business practices, your entire business model itself can prevent your success.

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How Hatch Canada Uses Process Street to Handle its Growth

Hatch Canada Process Street case study headerHatch Canada has been a long time member of the Process Street community and utilizes our platform to streamline their recruitment and onboarding processes. We spoke with CEO Peter Kuperman about how Process Street is utilized within the business.

The Hatch Canada story

While children grow up with iPads and computers, their classes in school too often focus on the same areas as they did 20, 30, 40 years ago.

Hatch is on the forefront of changing that approach.

Hatch is committed to opening up technology to everyone, and providing an opportunity to understand what’s inside the machines kids already interact with daily.

Hatch Canada presentationNot simply a coding school, Hatch is dispersed across Canada and is able to boast that it’s a 100+ person company.

The aim is to making learning fun.

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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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How to Create an Operations Manual for Your Business (and Avoid Nuclear War)

Having an operations manual may not be glamorous, but preventing the disasters caused by human error and bad processes can save your business and even (in extreme circumstances) millions of lives.

If you’ve ever seen Dr. Strangelove, you’ll know it’s ridiculous. You’ve got a mad scientist, a cowboy pilot riding a bomb as it falls, and a nuclear holocaust brought about by a series of overblown human (and mechanical) errors.

operations manual - dr strangelove

Yet, despite being criticized as unrealistic, at the time it was entirely possible for human error to cause a Third World War. Hell, human error has already caused the worst nuclear accident to date.

A perfect storm of 6 human errors — culminating with staff thinking it was ok to turn off the emergency cooling system — caused the Chernobyl disaster, costing an inflation-adjusted $720 billion, 30 deaths and an extreme amount of unsafe radiation.” – Ben Brandall, How Processes Protect Your Business From Crashing and Burning

The truth is, the only way to prevent such errors is to document workflows and processes, and the only way to make sure your employees know what they have to do, how to do it, and have the resources to do it is to create your own operations manual.

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Why Are Monopolies Bad? An Analysis of 6 Rise-and-Fall Companies

Why are monopolies bad?When I think of monopoly I think of a mustachioed man with a nice hat and a highland terrier.

I also think of family arguments and Christmas flashbacks; Monopole mon amour, directed by Resnais…

Yet, those aren’t the only monopoly connotations you should be worried about. The New York Times recently reported that a whopping 77% of mobile social traffic is owned by Facebook, 74% of the ebook market is Amazon, and Google owns 88% percent of the search advertising market.

They aren’t the only monopolies around and they’re only in specific sectors. A report from eMarketer showed that in 2016 Facebook and Google collectively accounted for 57% of all mobile advertising – and that figure is rising. Maybe it’s not a monopoly at all, but a duopoly?

Market position isn’t static, it’s dynamic. Monopolies form and fade, doing so in response to specific factors and environments.

In this article, we’ll look at the rise and fall of some monopolistic scenarios and try to learn a little about how this current dominance may look moving forward.

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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 Viral Marketing: 6 Lessons From 10,879 Articles

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Everyone wants to be the next Dollar Shave Club ad. Aside from being a fantastic and effective ad, it’s a perfect example of viral marketing, with almost 24.5 million views and counting.

Unfortunately, most of us can barely agree on what classes as “viral” content, let alone create it at will with a set marketing process. Worse still, much of the existing research on viral marketing ignores one key factor; how big your audience is. That’s like gambling without even knowing how much you’re betting – the theory is solid, but you can’t expect to succeed without knowing more.

So, in an attempt to pin down how a less-established site can produce viral content, I analyzed 10,879 of the most shared articles from last year. Stick around to find out:

  • How much your existing audience affects your viral marketing chances
  • Which social media platform is best to focus on
  • How long your content should be (and how much it matters)
  • The link between viral sharing and traffic
  • Why spam tactics work, but are a terrible idea
  • How to give your content the best chance of going viral (without needing your own audience)

Let’s get started.

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