All Paperwork and No Action
As a business develops, the focus can sometimes shift from actively generating new business to maintaining business processes.
Whilst processes are an essential part of delivering a consistent and efficient service, sometimes they can develop to a stage where they take attention away from the core function of the business.
Be wary of the following areas:
Reports – Avoid customising and developing multiple reports to analyse your business. Sometimes different reports can give you a more detailed insight into a particular area (and you may need to do this sometimes) but remember that your business boils down to one simple thing – what comes in and what goes out. If not enough is coming in or too much is going out then you know what to do!
Forms – If you have multiple forms then consider consolidating them into one primary document (if it suits to do this). Store your forms on a central drive so there isn’t multiple copies stored on multiple computers (which can risk the use of an outdated document) and make someone responsible for keeping them up to date. Remove any forms that no longer serve a purpose and if you can find forms from another source (where someone else maintains them accurately for you) use this resource instead of making or storing your own. For example, government websites like the Small Business Development Corporation often carry standard forms for different areas of business as do relevant regulatory bodies (where you can be assured you have the most up to date compliant form).
Office Meetings – It’s important to record meetings with your staff but make sure the focus is on action items rather than a description of the discussion (unless it’s an individual performance review meeting). Make the minutes simple dot points about what needs to happen, by when and by whom and you will ensure that the minutes are produced quickly and followed up.
Staff – When people are added to the business, sometimes they will develop their own processes, checklists and forms. It’s important to allow your staff to maximise the way they work best, but avoid adding these to the rest of the office unless they improve an existing item and can replace it. Always monitor how much time is being spent in your office on completing paperwork and maintaining processes. If you notice this is an area taking up a lot of time (and it’s something you’re not required to do) refocus your office on action rather than paperwork.
Outdated Documents and Projects – If historical documents or projects are no longer relevant to your business then it’s time to let them go. The fact that you previously invested a lot of time and effort into them (or that you are proud of them) isn’t enough of a reason to keep them. If you really don’t want to let something go, archive it, so it’s out of the way.
Stay vigilant about every process and piece of paperwork in your business. Make sure this area is always up to date, streamlined and serves the purpose of helping you run your business effectively. Do this and you’ll stay focused on action rather than paperwork.