Published on April 6th, 2018
Processes. We love to hate them, but even the best of us will have to admit, they are totally necessary.
Truth be told, most of us figure that out the hard way, but we aren’t here to talk about why processes are important. We’re here to talk about identifying when it’s time to overhaul your existing processes.
I’ve had the pleasure of “providing myself with an opportunity for growth,” (a.k.a: totally screwing up and falling flat on my face) when it comes to building sustainable website processes that benefit both my internal teammates and my clients.
Back in 2014, before Quintain Marketing merged with IMPACT, Quintain hit a really big growth spurt. All of a sudden, I had a ton of new teammates, new (and bigger!) clients, and a brand new office. The stakes were instantly higher and the processes I had in place as a one-woman-website-wonder simply weren’t scalable for this new territory.
After many attempts at trying to make my tried and true processes work, I eventually ran into a situation where they flat out failed me. It was awful.
Next, there was a lot of crying, cursing, and self-reflection.
I had to get really honest with where things weren’t going well and overhaul the entire process.
The resulting process did not disappoint and it remains one of my greatest professional achievements.
In fact, it was something I was excited about sharing with my teammates here at IMPACT.
Mergers & Melding
The beautiful thing about mergers is that you get to meld the very best ideas together. It’s incredibly exciting, but can also requires its own amount of pivoting and changes.
The merger led to us working together to
improve IMPACT’s website process, bjut that’s not the only reason.
As with any organization, when we merged with IMPACT, we found some triggers that let us know it was time to overhaul our current process.
So, that’s what I want to share with you today, the signs that you need to overhaul your existing processes. I’ll even give you some actionable tips along the way!
When your company grows
Very similar to the situation I faced while at Quintain, when your company grows from a small organization to a bigger one, it will inevitably reveal cracks in your processes.
A process isn’t really a process until it’s written down, if your processes aren’t documented, put pen to paper. As your organization grows it’s likely you won’t be the only person using the process. If your process can’t be understood by another (potentially, new) person, it’s time to overhaul.
Take some time to think about who your processes are serving. Are they for a specific type of client? What if you were to take on a client two or even three times the size of your average client? Would it be able to scale to serve these new clients just as well?
Bring your team together and brainstorm. Yes, you are solving for issues that don’t yet exist, but you don’t want to be solving them after you need them.
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When people avoid particular projects
Think about this for a minute, is there a particular part of a project you and your coworkers just dread? That part of the project that just never goes well, it’s a serious struggle to get through and more often than not, the outcome doesn’t land where you expected?
Take a deep dive into why! Pull out your documentation and compare it against what is really happening. Are you missing a step? Does something need to be better defined? Or, are you coming up against the same impediments over and over?
Hash these problems out with your team, get a little uncomfortable weighing your options, and go back and forth until you come to a resolve.
When sales avoids selling certain types of projects
When projects run into the same barriers time after time, word gets around. It will likely get back to your sales team through the office grapevine, or directly through your client.
That’s a rough spot for sales to be in. If sales knows a certain part of a process isn’t going well, or deliverables are missing expectations, they aren’t going to have the confidence to continue to sell it.
Evaluate your current projects. Is there anything your seeing a lack of and can’t explain? Dig deep and probe to figure out why certain deliverables or products simply aren’t being sold.
Internal Clarifying Questions (Actionable Tips)
Always keep your eyes and ears open whenever you get a chance to collaborate with your team. Sometimes the simplest of remarks or the faintest of complains could lead to really significant process issues if you just ask why?
Ready to peel back the layers and see where you and your team could be improving? Start by identifying the aforementioned triggers and then asking these questions:
- What is it about this part of the project that makes it so much of a pain?
- Should more/less/different people be involved on this task?
- What makes you hesitant to sell this service? Is it the entire experience or a single deliverable?
- How can the organization support you better with this deliverable?
- What factors helped this part of the process go smoothly for you before?
We’ve all been there, just as you’ve crafted the perfect project timeline, someone blows through a deadline, derailing the entire project. So frustrating. But, are you asking yourself why?
Are you or your clients consistently missing deadlines? If so, it might be time for a process overhaul!
Evaluate what deadlines are being missed, is it every deadline or specific types?
If every deadline is being consistently missed, it’s time to take a look at your entire process, soup to nuts. There are major breakdowns at play and expectations with your clients are probably misaligned.
If missed deadlines are specific (ie: feedback, writing content), you may only need to reevaluate this particular piece of your process. Check to see if the proper expectations have been set with the client, if instructions are clear, or if they understand how this activity relates to the entire project.
Net Promoter Score
At IMPACT, we use Net Promoter Scores to help keep a gauge on our client relationships. Every couple of weeks we’ll ask our clients in our weekly meeting, “if you were to rate us on a scale of 1-10, what would that be?” The client often provides a very non-distinct number, such as an eight. It’s our job to dig deep and truly understand why that score isn't any lower and what we could be doing to receive a 10.
This provides us with the perfect opportunity to push and really understand what’s going well and what isn’t.
So, if something is amiss, just ask! Sometimes the answers to all of our process woes can be addressed with a single question.
External Clarifying Questions (Actionable Tips)
Let’s be honest, client communication can be more of an art than a science. What someone says and what they mean can actually be two different things! Now that you know you aren’t always going to get a straight answer, here are some questions that can help you unearth those valuable insights that can help you amend your current processes.
- How can we help you meet the next deadline?
- Would you be more comfortable if I brought in a particular team member to address your concerns?
- What is your measure of success for this portion of the project?
Just like when you’re on the Metro, “If you see something, say something.” Seriously, nothing will ever change if you keep everything to yourself. If you’re noticing patterns in your teammates behavior or your clients, put it out there.
Your insights could mean adding a single bullet to your process, or burning the whole thing down and building it back up. It could lead to real, organizational change.
It doesn’t matter what role you’re in, what projects you’ve been on, or who you report to, bring it up!
Justify your concern
If you notice an area of your current processes that could use an overhaul, don’t be afraid to back it up. Use this post as a guide to jot down your thoughts on where your current process is breaking down and effectively make your case to affect real, actionable change.
Have you been through the experience of overhauling a process? Share your story in the comments and let us know your biggest takeaways.