This month I have been continuing work on setting up my business processes and working on increasing engagement on social media. There simply is never a boring day being an online business support services provider or as most would know it, as a Virtual Assistant (VA).
I want to focus this blog on processes. To me, these are the core means of systemising your operations and ensuring that performing a particular task in your business is the same whether it is performed by Miss I-love-processes or Miss I-do-it-my-way.
What is a process?
If you type “what is a process?” in Google, it returns its noun definition as
“A series of actions or steps taken to achieve an end.”
My personal definition of a process is a set of inter-related activities that can include sub-processes in order to achieve an objective.
Processes are an excellent way to streamline and make your business operations more efficient.
Think of the tasks that you do regularly in your business. For example, checking and screening your emails in the morning. In order to systemise and make the most of your time, you must establish a process of prioritising which emails to respond to immediately.
Processes can be improved from time to time especially with the continuous improvement of technological tools available to you to automate and reduce human error. However, this does not come without fault when technology fails, in which case, you must be cautious and also establish a backup process to ensure that there is always a Plan B.
Establishing a process is best done with the input of all those involved in completing your end task. This ensures that you are capturing as much of what the process will entail and gaining process ownership from your staff or contractors.
In order to fully take your processes forward and make it more useful, it is important to document it so that when one of your contractors or staff members is away on leave, your documented process is a useful resource for the new staff member or contractor to refer to.
Let’s look at an example process by considering one of the questions a fellow VA had posed as a process to look at for discussion.
Process for RFP (Request for Proposal) Follow up
The end result in this example would be when you are aware of the final decision on your RFP submission.
When you submit an RFP, you are interested in working together with a potential client on their project. The process we are going to look at is the follow up process, hence we will not discuss the process involved with writing your RFP. We begin looking at the process when your submission has been sent and you are now waiting for the outcome of your submission.
When you are following up on your RFP, there are several things I feel are important to keep in mind. These areas can mean the difference in awarding you the contract over someone else who had similarly impressed the potential client on their RFP.
Key areas to remember for follow up
1. Instructions from the potential client on any follow up procedures if any.
2. Deciding which method of communication is best to use for making contact. Phone contact is usually best to get an immediate response but you can try email first to allow the potential client time to respond. If you have not received a response in good time, give them a call.
3. Your communication style when you are making contact. (For example, do you say in your opening line “You guys haven’t called me back about that RFP…” versus “Hello Potential Client, it’s Miss I-love-processes here from Company A. We submitted an RFP for….. and I’m touching base to follow up if a decision has been made yet?”
4. Consider resourcing requirements for the project and prepare for dispensing this should you be awarded the project.
With the above key areas in mind, you should now have some direction to assist you with setting up a process that suits your business operations. If you submit several RFPs, it is recommended to keep a database or list of your RFP submissions so that it is easier to keep track of your RFP progress.
Creating processes and applying a continuous improvement approach helps make your business operations the best it can possibly be.
I would love to hear back from you on how you found this post by leaving a comment below and what processes you are passionate about in your operations. I know I am continuously looking for improvement.