OneNote is a tool. One of many tools available, in this age of technology, that can help your business grow by improving processes, increasing productivity, motivating employees and enhancing communication. We’ll take a look at each of these areas during the next four weeks to help you focus on the main business objective for 2018 – growth.
I strongly believe that processes and procedures, used to make redundant tasks routine, can increase efficiency, thereby reducing waste in company resources.
Every business handles a multitude of processes every day, from opening mail to shipping products. Let’s assume your company has 30 daily processes. If you could save just 2 minutes per process, you would gain 60 minutes of time that could be used to improve other processes or increase revenue through extra sales and marketing efforts. Saving 10 minutes per process would give you an extra 5 hours per day! That’s an unheard of 25 hours per week! Or perhaps you don’t have an adequate quality control process and your customers are complaining? Think processes are important?
So, how can OneNote help us improve processes? By defining, documenting and sharing them in one easy-to-use location using these steps:
- Create a notebook called Company Processes
- Call the first section “All Processes”
- In that section, write down all the processes you can think of that your company performs each day (don’t get caught up in the details of those processes yet – just list the processes themselves).
- Create a new section in the Company Processes notebook for each of the processes you listed above.
- For each process, write down all the steps for handling the process (procedure). Don’t try to change the steps, just write down the steps that are currently taken. Be detailed. The more detailed your steps, the more improvements can generally be made. If someone else in the company handles that process, share the notebook with them and have them fill out the steps. Sometimes a flow chart helps to outline each step.
- Once the steps have been written down, analyze each step and brainstorm solutions and improvements with others involved in the process. Even if you are a one-person show, engage the help of someone you know to talk through the procedure. Are there bottlenecks in the procedure? Is everyone actually performing the steps? Can a step be automated?
- Make sure the final procedure is written down on a new page under that process section.
- Implement and share the new procedure (can email pages or sections directly from OneNote or share the entire notebook).
Here are some examples of common processes:
- Retrieve, Open and Handle Mail
- Retrieve, Open and Handle Email
- Invoice Customers
- Ship Orders to Customers
- Customer Relations
- Employee Training
- Pay Bills
- Receive Payments
- Inventory Management
- Social Media Marketing
- Website Maintenance
- Sales Calls
- Quality Control
- New Product Development
I usually encourage my clients to start with the mail. It’s a simple but important process and is a good place to start honing the art of process development. Many times, surprising deficiencies are discovered by reviewing this mundane procedure.
Only one process should be accomplished at one time. Multi-tasking typically does not improve efficiency or save time. If a procedure can’t be completed, schedule it for another time and go on to the next task.
Engage employees and customers – get them involved in reviewing the current process and testing out the new one. This in itself can improve relations and processes.
Any time something is handled multiple times (like a piece of mail or passing the task to another person), there’s a good chance steps can be eliminated.
Many times, training is the missing ingredient in a procedure. The process itself might be efficient, but the person responsible for completing the task may not have the necessary training to perform it well.
Remember to utilize OneNote features such as Numbering, To Do Tags, Links, File Attachments and Styles to help create standard procedures within your processes. OneNote can be used directly to complete and record each step.
Most processes are fluid and need to be updated yearly. Keeping them organized in your Company Processes notebook ensures that they will be reviewed in future.
For additional information on using OneNote for processes, watch The Ultimate OneNote Organizer.