by Granville Triumph
In a previous post, I discussed what needs to happen for a startup to become a company. A key component of the evolution from startup to company to market leader is the development and improvement of systems. Clearly defined systems help to relieve much of the added effort, stress and money that are required to conduct business on the fly, and they help organizations accomplish their goals more quickly. Systems also contribute to building a company’s value.
Systems are the glue that holds your people, products and processes together and enables the organizational vision to be realized.
There are two main types of systems. An organizational system defines the structure of personnel within your organization. More than a chain of command, an organizational system also defines how people interact in order to improve communication, collaboration, trust and decision making. By viewing the organization as a cohesive system instead of a collection of disparate silos, you can maximize the productivity and performance of all employees and departments, and the organization as a whole.
A business system supports the organizational system by defining how an organization operates. A business system includes every step that must take place, from the initial concept to the delivery of the product to the end customer, as well as standard processes for sales, hiring and customer service. An organization that documents and consistently adheres to the business system can follow easily repeatable procedures to operate more efficiently, avoid confusion and simplify the process of adding and training new employees.
The mere presence of systems can stabilize a startup and lay the foundation for growth. As those systems mature, an organization will be able to leverage more concrete strategies related to planning, budgeting, operational controls and efficiency, and problem solving. In fact, the presence and maturation of systems help to define the stage of business growth, from existence to survival to success to expansion to financial maturity.
Every CEO wants to grow the organization, and systems facilitate this growth. Becoming a better leader, hiring the right team, acquiring capital, and improving products and services are critical, but systems must be in place for growth to occur. Developing and implementing systems that enable growth must start from day one, even when you’re wearing dozens of hats just to keep the lights on. Document how everything is done, from major strategic decisions to day-to-day functions. This enables you to proactively troubleshoot problems, create better solutions and improve efficiency.
As your documented systems take shape, share them with your team, encourage feedback and stress the importance of following your systems. The structure and planning made possible by your systems will help you take advantage of growth opportunities, provide direction, minimize risk and increase the odds of success.