While small businesses don’t generate the same volume of products and services or have the same level of organizational complexity as big corporations, evaluating and improving processes is critical for success.
Systems and processes that help a business run like a well-oiled machine is the premise of the management technique Six Sigma. And by keeping some of its fundamental concepts top of mind, you can help ensure your company runs smoothly and profitably. Rachel Strella can vouch for that.
Strella founded Strella Social Media, a social media consulting firm, in 2010. While she has always been a firm believer in the importance of systems and processes in her business, she has made fine-tuning them a primary focus over the past year. Those strategic and tactical changes have helped Strella Social Media double its gross profit and quadruple its net profit in just one year.
At the foundation of the changes are several Six Sigma tenets. I asked Strella about how they relate to her company’s success. I hope they serve as some food for thought as you consider what steps you can take to improve your business results.
Establish consistency in systems and processes for managing and completing tasks. “There are many layers to social media management—and a lot of details to consider,” says Strella. “We’ve taken the time to document these core processes; we keep all company procedures and protocols on a shared drive and we let the team know when we make changes (which happens often in this industry).”
Strella has documented systems and processes in place for all aspects of her business, including qualifying leads, internal flow of communication, onboarding new clients, and managing clients’ varied social media platforms. This helps ensure all five members of the Strella team know not only what they need to do, but also how they need to do it.
Find ways to measure, analyze, and improve processes—and then control them for optimal efficiency. “Every system is evaluated and refined routinely, especially as the changes in social media occur,” explains Strella. The three primary tools her company uses are a CRM, a scorecard, and its V/TO (The Vision/Traction OrganizerTM).
“Our CRM gives us the data we need. The scorecard gives a glimpse at that data (over time), and we benchmark it against specific goals. The V/TO is part of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), which gives us a macro view of our core values, our 10-year goals, our three-year goals, our one-year goals, and our quarterly goals (called Rocks),” Strella says.
According to Strella, she and her team create the V/TO in their annual strategic planning meetings and then evaluate the Rocks quarterly, monthly, and weekly. When they discover weaknesses in their systems and processes, they track them in an issues list within their V/TO. Then they tackle the challenges on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis as required.
Strella says, “We resolve issues by employing the IDS (identify, discuss, solve) approach. In our weekly leadership meetings, we address the issues for the week. Our monthly meetings, which include our whole team, address issues the team is facing in meeting their goals. In our quarterly meetings, we address big picture issues that may have affected our ability to achieve our Rocks, and we make a plan to address issues that could arise as we establish the Rocks for the coming quarter.”