11.10.18

Project Design: The importance of process

colourful paper cut outs representing business processes next to hands

Processes are something that are often overlooked in our industry, but are absolutely essential for a number of reasons.

They help you create a repeatable template for a winning formula.
They help your team understand how to move through a project in the correct way.
They help you avoid omitting important steps or items.
They help you look more professional.
They put the ‘know how’ in the business, instead of in employees.
They help minimise the impact of staff turnover.
They are the key to creating a business with a built-in exit plan if you decide to move on.
They are key in helping a business achieve ISO 9001 certification.

Let’s look at a simple process that we all have to deal with so we can understand how it can help your business function the optimum way.

Dealing with a new email enquiry:

  1. Email arrives from new potential client asking for more information about our products & services.
  2. Enter potential client details in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software under ‘leads.’
  3. Add the email enquiry to the client’s record in CRM software and tag this as the source of the lead.
  4. If there are any specific requests – i.e. for a telephone call or a particular detail about our products & services discuss these with a sales manager/director to formulate best action before responding.
  5. Respond to email using the enquiry response template in CRM (amending this if required as agreed with manager/director to tailor it to any specific requests from the initial enquiry).

This may seem extremely simple – so simple in fact that you might be thinking, why would you have a process for something so basic?

Well, it may be simple, but it’s also one of the key parts of your business. If you don’t get this right you might not convert enough enquiries into customers, and we all know what that means for your business.

To understand why process is so vital all you have to do is take the same scenario above and approach it without a process.

Obviously the starting point is the same as before: a message arrives from a potential client asking for more information about our products & services.

But now things can go in many, many different directions:

  • Respond to email directly using a template but without logging client details in CRM. This means if the client doesn’t respond it is unlikely we will follow up.
  • Respond to email directly without a template but client details are logged in CRM with source email attached. By not using a template we are likely to omit key points that we use to differentiate our business from the competition, removing our advantage.
  • Respond to email directly without a template or logging client details in CRM. Again, by not using a template we are likely to omit key points that we use to differentiate our business from the competition, and by not logging them in the CRM if the client doesn’t respond it is unlikely we will follow up.
  • Respond to email directly without a template but client details are logged in CRM however source email is not attached to client. This means we now have no record of where that potential client came from and again, by not using a template we are likely to omit key points that we use to differentiate our business from the competition.

Obviously there are many more possibilities for example one person might decide to pick up the phone in response to an enquiry email, but for the purpose of this example let’s just stick to the scenarios above.

As you can see for such a simple basic process, without it things can start to go awry very quickly, as none of the four scenarios above are optimal and this particular area is absolutely key for any business to succeed: more enquiries converted to customers equals more cash in the bank!

This is a key area for any business and we have only looked at one process for one particular scenario. Just think for a minute about the whole process of taking an enquiry from that first email right up to handing over a completed project. If every aspect of that journey had a step-by-step process how much better would the end result be? How much happier would that client be? How much easier would the whole project be? How much more successful would your business be?

Keith Jones studied Product Design at Central St. Martins where he graduated in 1996. He has had a successful career working in numerous high end audio outlets, culminating in owning his own successful AV installation company from 2001-2008. After a career break he started Jones designs in August 2009 which morphed into limited company designflow, in 2015. Designflow aims to increase awareness of design in AV and help installers win more jobs and create proper documentation for them.