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

operations manual operational excellence operational knowledge

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.

In this Process Street article, we’ll be covering:

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How Payroll Processors Uses Process Street’s Conditional Logic for Client Onboarding

How Payroll Processors Uses Process Street_s Conditional Logic for Client OnboardingEvery company needs HR, but not every company needs an HR department.

For those who aren’t looking to set up the traditional HR team, Payroll Processors has the solution: an entire HR department stuffed into a single platform so you can streamline all your payroll and employee management needs in one place.

Much like us here at Process Street, the folks at Payroll Processors believe: let us take care of things so you can focus on your business.

It’s no surprise, then, that when Payroll Processors wanted to focus on its business, it came to us, and so began a beautiful relationship.
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11 Expert Features to Master Process Street Workflows

11 Expert Features to Master Process Street Workflows
You need a way for your teams’ processes to be done right, done on time, and documented in a way that allows those processes to be improved over time. So you come to Process Street, which enables anyone in your organization to execute each process with consistency, visibility, and accountability.

By now you’ve experimented with some of the pre-made workflows. Maybe you’ve even built a few yourself. You’ve seen what’s possible when it comes to capturing your core processes and sharing them across your company.

But are you getting the most bang for your buck?

In this post, I’ll cover the top 11 features of Process Street workflows and how to use them to optimize your own processes and become a master of modern process management.

If there’s a particular feature you’re interested in, feel free to skip ahead:

Let’s get moving!
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DACI: Group Decision-Making Made Easy With Our Free Template

DACI: Group Decision-Making Made Easy With Our Free Template

We’ve all been there: an hour and a half into a 45-minute meeting. You’re trying to reach a consensus but as one department makes a suggestion, the next disagrees.

Customer success insists the next product should be geared towards students; sales thinks their parents are a better demographic. Content marketing started out by spitballing potential names until someone brought up the latest Process Street post and they all got sidetracked discussing whether it’s better to use odd or even numbers in a post title. Social marketing is scrolling through newsfeeds and graphic design isn’t even sure what they’re doing in this meeting at all.

It should have been simple: get everyone together, brainstorm ideas, then form a game-plan and timeline to use moving forward. Except no one can agree on anything and, at this rate, the only accomplishment the meeting will have made is wasting everyone’s afternoon.

Group decision-making is complicated. Fortunately, there are processes for that.

You may have already read our post on DECIDE, which is a great decision-making process for individuals. However, what works for an individual does not necessarily translate to a group. In this post, I’m going to introduce you to one of the most popular group decision-making frameworks: DACI.

The DACI (Driver, Approver, Contributors, Informed) decision-making framework is a set of processes geared toward doing just that. As a variant of the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) responsibility matrix, DACI’s emphasis on decision clarity for complex projects often makes it the go-to framework for product managers.

That’s a lot of acronyms all at once, huh?

Don’t worry. We’ll take it slow – or you can jump straight to the point:

Let’s get some decisions made!
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Master Project Management with the Critical Path Method

Master Project Management with the Critical Path Method

Project management requires a wide spectrum of skills, organizational abilities, and attention to detail to make sure everything moves forward according to plan. A good project manager is able to keep all the plates spinning in sync while making it appear effortless at the same time.

However, the more plates you have spinning at once, the harder this is to accomplish. Critical path method (CPM) is one of the tools project managers can use to create a comprehensive plan and organize complex projects with many moving parts.

In this Process Street post, I’ll take you through the CPM process step-by-step, and then show you how our templates and checklists can take some of the stress out of your project management.

Read on, or feel free to skip ahead:

Let’s jump in!
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5 Critical System Failures of the Coronavirus Pandemic

5 Critical System Failures of the Coronavirus Pandemic

At 5 AM on August 29, 2005, the largest drainage canal in New Orleans, the 17th Street Canal, was breached by torrents of water, an hour before Hurricane Katrina struck the city.

Levees and floodwalls fell in 50 different locations, flooding 80% of the city – under 15 feet of water in some parts.

No doubt the system failed. But which system?

The Bush administration claimed the break couldn’t have been foreseen. Scientists claimed they’d given warnings about that exact situation for nearly ten years previous. The US Army Corps of Engineers blamed the city; the city blamed the engineers.

It could be said – and many have – that in this case, it wasn’t the levee system that failed that day, but the human system certainly did. Later, experts determined that budget cuts, outdated engineering, and inadequate process infrastructures are what led to the disaster.

But that was 2005, and something of that magnitude couldn’t blindside us again.

Right…?

System Failure: COVID-19
(Source)

At Process Street, we’ve been paying very close attention to the different responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. This post is going to look at seven of the most notable system failures that occurred during the pandemic, why they happened, and how they could have been prevented.

Let’s get started.
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Plan for Success With 11 Free Human Resource Planning Checklists

Human Resource Planning

The term planning is imbecilic; everything can change tomorrow

That was a quote made by a French manager, straight after the 1973 oil crisis.

He’s kind of right of course. Everything can, quite easily, change tomorrow. We’re living in a world where we see changes every day. Ground-breaking technology, product innovations, medical breakthroughs, economic globalization. Things change. I can’t argue with that.

But does that mean “planning is imbecilic” though?

Can planning be inflexible and slow to respond to change? Yes. Can it be reliant on poor, over-optimistic forecasting? Probably. Can it lead to bad business decisions? Definitely.

Planning can be ineffective and damaging if it’s done badly.

Good planning, on the other hand, can minimize the uncertainty brought on by change. It can reduce risk, promote reflection and encourage innovation. It forces rational, logical thinking and it helps inform good business decisions.

Don’t believe me?

Take the 1911 race to the South Pole. The race was between two explorers Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott. They each had a similar amount of experience and were the same age. Both faced 1,400 miles of gale-force winds, blizzards, and minus temperatures on their expeditions.

Amundsen meticulously planned his trip for several years. Scott didn’t.

Guess which expedition tragically failed?

Amundsen was already sailing back to Norway when Scott’s team finally gave up hope.

Failing to plan is planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin

So, now we’ve established that planning is sensible, and not ‘imbecilic’, let’s find out why human resource planning is one of the most valuable processes a company can follow.

To do this, I will cover the following:

Without further ado, let’s get stuck in!

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Secrets of the Cabal: Half-Life’s Organizational Management & Other Agile Tales

organizational management at valve corporation cabal process

From humble beginnings as a simple clone of the then-popular first-person shooter Quake, Half-Life would eventually become the first installment of one of the most successful video game series of all time.

Today, Valve Inc. is one of the most renowned, innovative, and successful game development companies worldwide, boasting one of the largest video game digital distribution service platforms on the planet, a range of pioneering virtual reality hardware and an impressive roster of instantly recognizable and widely-loved game titles.

Specifically, the development of the original Half-Life makes for an interesting case-study, and represents a model of innovative agile organizational management.

Half-Life is remembered as one of the best games of all time, and the intense environment in which it was created – where the Cabal process was born – is testament to that legacy.

Companies like Valve, Zappos, Semco, and even Google have come up with different models to enable the potential of their workers. These methods give power to the employees to pursue their own entrepreneurial pet projects.

Tesla’s innovation is equal part production process as it is the product; you need only look to the hulking Gigafactories to find evidence of this.

Similarly, Facebook’s success is not just in the service it offers users, but also how it was designed to scale to billions of users.

The process of organizational management is always an important factor in the outcome of these hugely successful products.

In this post I’ll be looking at democratic methods of organizational management, with a particular focus on Valve’s Cabal process. I’ll also mention a couple of other interesting examples of holocratic organizational management, and talk about our own internal structure at Process Street.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each section, if you want to jump ahead:

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17 Email Marketing Templates For An Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Email Marketing Templates

$35 billion in sales is generated annually using email.

For each ~$1 spent on a given email campaign, the Return On Investment equaled ~$38 in 2017.

At Process Street, we know email is a popular, practical and powerful way to connect with people. When done right…

This is why Process Street has created 17 Email Marketing Templates, so you can get your email marketing processes right.

Use our email marketing templates to obtain clarityconsistency and save time within your marketing campaign.

By using our templates you can:

  • Test and improve each campaign performing A/B testing.
  • Work in synergy with the rest of your team using our role assignment feature.
  • Ensure task order and task prioritization using our stop task feature.
  • Make sure tasks are completed within a given deadline using our dynamic due date feature.
  • Monitor and manage the progress of any given email marketing process.

These templates are free and easy to use. Scroll down to grab them straight away using the quick links provided.

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Task Permissions: How to Create Secure, Flexible Processes

Task Permissions
Yahoo! lost $350 million to their sale price after the reveal that a security breach had caused 3 billion accounts to be compromised. They learned the hard way that if you have sensitive data you’ll also need measures to protect it.

You need an easy way to secure your processes without providing extra hoops for your team to jump through and get confused over.

That’s why we here at Process Street let you set task permissions in your checklists.

This feature lets you hide tasks from viewers with variable permission levels within your checklists. You’re left with a checklist that shows different tasks to different people based on what you think they should see.

The best thing? It solves your security and clarity issues while providing a singular location for your data to be stored, making it easy to review.

Enough dilly-dallying, let’s get to it!
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