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25 processes every business needs
This article is part of our Process 101 guide.
What makes your business special is the way you do things. This could be the things you do that allow you to be efficient, that make you quirky or just the things you do that are so much better than the competition. It’s what gives you the edge. And what’s another name for the way you do things? Process.
Without process you become inefficient, ordinary, uncompetitive. With process, you can replicate your successes over and over again. We believe that there are a number of processes that every business needs and each one can be honed to make you the best in your field. We’ve compiled a list for you so that you can compare your current operating procedures against ours below and see where you may need to focus your attention.
In addition, we’ve written sample template processes for the majority of the list, saving you from having to develop these from scratch. These processes have been designed to provide a starting point from which you can tailor them to suit your business. Where the process names are linked, they’ll allow you to access the template through the Process Bliss software. You’ll be prompted to sign up for a free account if you don’t already have one. So without further ado, read on!
The success of a business is directly linked to that of its customers. Therefore it’s crucial to ensure that your processes for taking on, managing and offboarding your clients are delivered to the highest standard.
Create the best impression with your new customer with a solid onboarding process. Set expectations and demonstrate that they made the right decision in engaging your company. We’d argue that this is in the top 3 of processes every business needs.
This process defines how you communicate with your customers on an ongoing basis. Arranging regular checkpoints allows you to investigate opportunities for upselling or extending the service you provide.
Although unwelcome, you can ensure your customer receives the best experience when you stop working with them. The smoothness with which this happens can make the difference between a future referral and making your company one to avoid.
Finance processes are the backbone of every company. Aside from enabling you to keep the rest of your business running, they are required to comply with the regulations in your country. Businesses have to complete tax declarations and file end of year accounts, and comprehensive processes for these activities means that you reduce the risk of non-compliance.
How you calculate and monitor your company’s budget is of the utmost importance. A process to ensure that expenditure is kept in line and that the budget is being tracked over the financial year will reassure you that your business is operating within its means.
This process describes how to compile the end of financial year accounts and annual returns. Although the exact procedure will vary from country to country, a robust process will ensure that information is submitted accurately and on time.
Setting up a process for running the payroll, whether it’s at monthly, fortnightly or even weekly intervals will mean that nothing is forgotten. Ensure that all relevant additions and deductions are made, and that any unique circumstances are taken into account.
This process relates to the UK taxation laws, but having an equivalent procedure for the tax system in your country is vital. Businesses benefit from reductions in tax so a process for preparing and submitting paperwork will mean you recoup the money owed to you.
Your business wouldn’t be able to run without its most important asset: its employees. Keeping your staff safe and happy should be one of your company’s top priorities. That’s why it’s no surprise that this section includes the largest number of processes every business needs. Note that although the below templates are largely tailored to UK employment law, the principles will apply more widely.
Disciplinary & grievance (UK)
There are four main processes relating to the disciplinary and grievance procedures: responding to a formal grievance, disciplinary investigation, disciplinary hearing and disciplinary appeal. Although these processes are likely to be used infrequently, it’s important that you comply with the employment law when they are needed.
Employee leave (UK)
As well as a clear process for how employees request holiday and notify employers of the need for sick leave, there is also parental leave to consider. Having processes in place for when employees request maternity or paternity leave will help manage the transition period.
Businesses often underestimate how important their employee onboarding process is to the retention and ongoing success of their staff. A comprehensive onboarding process will reassure employees they’ve joined a company that cares about supporting its staff.
Similar to how a customer offboarding process can encourage positive reviews and referrals, a smooth employee offboarding process will make sure nothing is forgotten and will leave your former employee with a good impression of your company.
A request from an employee for regular flexible or remote working is a right for certain employees under UK employment law. Handle their request in the correct way by following the specific process outlined.
Performance and appraisal
Transparent processes for performance reviews and appraisals help your employees understand what they need to be successful in their role. In addition, they clarify what constitutes performance that needs to be improved upon.
Recruitment is the main HR process that interacts with people that are not yet employed members of staff. As such, it’s even more important to have a process that ensures fairness and transparency. If candidates are aware of the process up front, they will be more likely to have a positive experience with your recruitment team.
While every business hopes to never have to use a redundancy process, if it is needed it’s one that has strict rules around how it is enacted. Depending on the employment law in the country in which you operate, redundancies may be subject to a number of reviews and may involve external parties to help ensure it is compliant.
Operations spans everything in a business relating to its day to day running. It’s the department that enables the other teams to do what they do best, while improving the overall functioning of the company behind the scenes. Its key responsibilities are process review and improvement and how the business creates and adapts its strategy.
Instigating and developing partnerships with other businesses in similar or complementing sectors can be a key way to grow your business. Ensure that you make the most of these connections by following a process designed to keep your partners in the loop and thinking of you first whenever a relevant opportunity arises.
A process loses its worth as soon as it stops being reviewed and updated. Regular policy reviews not only mean that errors are reduced and that your business stays compliant, but that you can actively look for places where improvements and efficiencies can be made.
Every business needs tools or software to run on. Documenting how you manage procurement or a tendering process will mean that you take all factors into consideration to achieve the right outcome for your business.
Your business strategy is the way you make decisions over what to do (and what not to do), and shapes the overall direction of the company. It’s important to review your targets at regular intervals, and to have a clear process for setting and defining these targets.
Sales & Marketing
Often overlooked, the sales and marketing processes in your business are what will attract and persuade leads to become your customers. Once you’ve hit upon strategies that work, you want to make sure your activities are carried out the same way every time by following your processes.
Especially in a crowded industry, it’s key to keep an eye on your competitors. Having a process you can refer to that allows you to conduct a thorough competitor analysis will allow you to spot opportunities for differentiated positioning and offerings.
The ways in which you acquire customers will be unique to your business. The strategies may be common, but what makes your business successful is the knowledge and expertise you have built up in this process. Whether it’s how you do digital marketing, how you do a sales call or how you approach events, a documented customer acquisition process is essential.
Whatever your industry, you will need to promote your company to potential customers. Whether this is through events, mentions in the press or more traditional advertising, putting together a process for how you do publicity will make sure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities.
A common strategy to capture and nurture your leads before they purchase from you, a process for compiling a newsletter is a good thing to have. Your newsletter should reflect your business and the image you want to send out. Don’t be afraid to add some information about what your company’s been up to behind the scenes – people love the personal detail.
Whether this is a digital advertising campaign or one centred around print materials, there are commonalities between each campaign you carry out. The aim or desired result needs to be decided up front, as well as criteria such as the budget and the audience.
A business website is the modern day shop window. Ensuring it is kept up to date and that it accurately reflects your target audience is an ongoing job. Your process for updating your website lists the points you will need to bear in mind.
Running a business and keeping all the plates spinning is by no means easy. But simply having a list of the 25 processes that every business needs is the first step in ensuring you’re on top of everything. The next step is to make these processes truly work for your business by customising them to suit your needs and circumstances.
If you need a hand getting started, let us help. Using this process framework we’ll work with you to document the processes you don’t have, and help you get them running in your business.