To paraphrase the creator of Dilbert, the goal in any organization is to create effective systems. That’s what allows organizations to maximize performance and scale up if necessary.


Why do you want formal systems in place? This eliminates inefficiency because people experiment or deviate from the best possible process. It minimizes mistakes, because you have a simple, repeatable process for every major mission critical action. You want to come up with formal procedures for every human resources, accounting, customer relationship management and technical support process. Once you have the formal process, you can tweak it to come up with a more effective one to maximize quality and process speed, no matter what the process is.


Formal systems can protect the business, and that is best demonstrated with generally accepted accounting practices. For example, formal systems limit the opportunity for corruption and theft. That is why audits are performed (or should be done) on a regular basis. That is why the person who audits the books and corrects errors isn’t the same one maintaining the books. Having formal rules regarding who can access the cash stash or handle customer returns allows someone else to immediately identify when there is a something amiss and know when someone is lying about permission to do something to hide theft.


Formal processes aren’t going to cover everything that may come up. It is more like Pareto’s Law – standardizing the 80 percent of work that is done so that managers can handle the 20 percent that needs more devoted attention to resolve. The challenge can be coming up with simple solutions for key processes that work 80% or more of the time. Websites like this providing management system consulting so you can create these successful systems.


Why is systemizing considered a bad thing? Part of it is how poorly humans deal with complexity. Every step you add to the process is something people can forget or neglect. The more off-ramps and offshoots you have on the decision making tree, the more oversight and interference productive people encounter. They may try to solve things themselves to avoid the delays of calling in a manager, getting approval or handing off to someone else. The solution isn’t creating a flowchart that looks like a spaghetti diagram, creating something that only adds to confusion and chaotic operations. Instead, create systems for cleanly, quickly and correctly delivering products and processes – especially anything that is your bread and butter.


Another reason people resist “systems” is that they’re seen as oppressive. If you have to report to a manager every few minutes, it makes employees feel like they’re inferior. Having formal processes that say you can do X or Y in response to a complaint but not Z without manager’s approval allows them to exercise choice and solve many issues immediately without making promises they can’t keep. For example, you can allow customers to receive coupons if the returned item is still in the package but reject cash refunds to not incentivize fraud. You can ask people to staple bags closed or label purchased items with stickers as they sell so that extras aren’t slipped in without having to have security hovering over everyone.


One side benefit of creating successful systems is that they can lead to robotic process automation. Whether it is letting people update their paycheck tax withholding online or having software ensure new hires go through the entire onboarding process, systems allow you to automate as much as possible while freeing up professionals for the more complex or demanding issues. Then you know that every member of the team takes online safety training or completes industry mandated background checks, while HR deals with the real crises.

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