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Author and chief editor of the effizine, online magazine for busy professionals desperate for getting things done efficiently

System of work

System of work is more than tasks or charts. System of work is the organisation workflow that spans across all activities within organisation. Why would you care about system of work in the first place? System of work should be important for all business owners and business managers. With the right system of work in place companies can accelerate their businesses multiple times, achieve better visibility and quality of their overall output.

Sure you might have tons of calendars, task lists and graphs, but lack of true system of work costs businesses hundreds of thousands of lost productivity hours and hit the bottom line or market share. That’s where true management steps in to collect all the pieces scattered around the company and in most cases provide set of ways to get things done. Having those ways defined works as the first step in improving the way people do work together as it sets a mindset of finding not only the one unified way but in fact the best way for getting things done quickly and efficiently.

Those ways are typically forming some set of standards or best practices, in fact they are called processes. Processes can be more or less formalised. The level of formalisation is often confused with how good management has been put in place. There’s nothing more misleading in identifying strong, long text, formalised set of instructions with good management. Even the ISO certification doesn’t require pen-on-paper formalisation of processes. The only real requirement for a good set of processes is that the implementation of the whole system of work is complete.

The level of completion and comprehensiveness of processes in company is the first true measurement of system of work. The second of course is how well the processes are followed. What is the point of having the most comprehensive set of processes in place if they’re not always followed. Companies often claim some level of flexibility on that matter, however any flexibility shows that if processes are followed by a plethora of exceptions, there’s something wrong with how they’ve been put together in the first place.

That’s where the third measurement steps into action: consistency. For the process to be followed and applicable it has to be consistent with other processes in the company. Oftentimes companies make mistake of making processes to specific to be applicable to many situations that occur in the business. That’s why good process is specific enough to cover most to all of the situations, including covering all exceptional cases in more or less precise way.

Oftentimes I hear from small companies that they are too small for implementing processes. This is more a representation of fear of buerocracy and overhead rather than true representation of how things work already in even the smallest of companies. Every company has at least several processes in place: there is an agreement of when people come in and leave the work, how people schedule their holidays and meetings. Those agreements are in fact processes.

Fair enough, scripting all scenarios is not possible, nor desirable in every small company, which potentially might have problems with defining their own identity and position on the market. setting a complete system of work in a small company might take however anything between three and thirty regular A4 pages of text. Therefore it’s only up to the skill of internal management how well the rest of processes are structured.

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