The secret to creating scalable processes and operations

Jul 14, 2019
Post Masthead

It doesn’t matter if you’re two years or 15 years into your business — if you want to grow, you know you’re going to have to master one critical piece of the growth puzzle: building the business to scale.

We all know that the secret to building a growing business is through scalable processes, but few of the available resources truly show you how.

What’s more, we’re inundated with information about tools and systems that promise to help us scale, but we’re just burdened with bloated project management tools and conflicting methodologies that seem to just slow us down.

Here’s the thing — the profitable businesses are growing are by doubling down on their core offerings and (shocker) their operations. They’re delivering and helping more customers by enabling their teams to sell more, market more, and build more.

And the only way they do that is by tackling the big, scary internal process beast.

If you’re a manager or owner of an agency, then you want to deliver more value to clients even faster. Happier clients equals more business and referrals all around, and when the agency can confidently take on more work and keep their existing clients, they can grow sustainably.

If you’re a team leader or founder of a software company, then your focus is on minimizing churn, meeting the market with the right products, and creating repeatable processes that enable the team predictably build, grow, and scale.

As co-founders of a project automation platform, we’ve helped dozens of teams, agency owners, and software founders redesign and rebuild their processes to scale.

In this article, we’re revealing the secret to creating those scalable processes and operations and how you can do the same for your team.

What is a scalable process?

A scalable process is somewhat of a catch-22. It implies that not all processes are scalable, and you could be left with a process that doesn’t actually help you or the team accomplish your goals.

You also can’t really have any kind of process because it could hinder you or slow you down (and therefore impact the bottom line). And yet, a “process” alone could also accomplish exactly what we intend it to, but as soon as other stakeholders or team members take on the process, it falls apart — even if it did work for us.

Processes can also move you to a desired outcome too quickly, rushing you and the team through a set of steps that gives everyone an incomplete or misguided outcome that ends up costing you in the long run.

All that said, “scalable” here assumes we’ve got a solid enough process that continues to enable the team to perform even as new members are added to the team.

Scalability implies that as the business grows, the processes in place either help the team continue to produce at their level of output, or enable them to produce more.

The secrets to creating scalable processes

Creating any kind of process requires steps — understanding the ultimate desired outcome, planning out the steps to get there, testing the process, and implementing the process.

But what makes a scalable process different?

First, a scalable process is one that can withstand a number of factors and stressors. It can handle volume — volume of teammates or contributing parties — and it combines efficiency with relevance where only the most important steps are part of the process.

Secondly, a scalable process enables other parties to grow either on or around the process. A scalable process keeps a facet of the business as predictable as possible, and that enables other teams, product lines, or service lines to increase output in some way.

At the core of this scalability lies a few secrets to ensure we arrive at truly scalable processes:

  1. Understanding the current processes in place
  2. Identifying their success gaps
  3. Automating the processes as much as possible
  4. Iterating on the process

1. Understanding the current process in place

How many times have we ever jumped the gun and assumed we understood the problem? And then, after we implement the solution, we realize just how off-target we actually were.

That’s exactly what happens with building virtually any process, let alone a scalable one.

The first step is always taking the time to understand the miniscule details of the process being followed — even if you wouldn’t currently call it a “process” and even if it’s truly a terrible or slow one.

If you’re a team leader, founder, or project manager, take the time with your team and whatever supporting tools and technologies to really understand all the steps your team takes to accomplish a desired outcome.

Dig deep into the tools and technologies to see how they’re leveraged and when, and understand the dependencies between teams.

While this step seems obvious, the secret is to really sink your teeth in the process. Get to know it like the back of your hand. Document it if you have to. When you rebuild it, you’ll need to know where you came from.

2. Identifying your success gaps

Every great strategy always identifies the “success gaps”. They’re the gaps that you need to bridge in order to be successful.

In our case, we’re trying to identify the success gaps preventing us from achieving a desired outcome.

With a scalable process, you need to be able to uncover the main success gaps in the existing process. This can only be done well if you really took your time in understanding the process in the first place.

But once you do, your success gaps could potentially fall in a number of efficiency areas:

  1. Time — the existing process takes too much or too little time
  2. Cost — the existing process costs too much to support or it has an undesirable opportunity cost
  3. Resources — the existing process doesn’t have enough resources, the right resources, or the right technologies or tools

Your success gaps will determine what “levers” you can pull to adjust the existing process into an infinitely more scalable one.

3. Automating the process as much as possible

This is perhaps the greatest secret of them all: leveraging automation in your processes.

What makes a process truly scalable is its ability for others to produce more of a desired outcome or predictably arrive at a desired outcome better or faster.

The way to do that as reliably as possible is through project automation (also known as workflow automation and process automation).

You might already be familiar with automation. There’s dozens of tools and software out there that can automate marketing communications, lead nurturing, lead scoring, data piping and parsing, and so much more.

But it’s rarely applied to processes and teams who need to manage their work. What if work management and projects and processes could be automated?

The best processes are the ones you don’t have to think too hard about or have to remember to do. Instead you’d rather focus on getting the work done without stressing about the process itself.

That’s the magic of creating a process to scale — eliminating both the pressure of the process and the potential for human error.

With project automation, you can eliminate entire steps from your workflows and processes. What once took several reminders and steps can easily be collapsed into an automatic workflow.

And guess what? The fastest growing companies are using project automation software to their advantage.

Automation is one of the best-kept secrets to creating scalable processes and building flourishing businesses, and if you stick around, we’ll show you exactly how.

4. Iterating on existing processes

Process iteration isn’t exactly something you hear other business owners talk about.

You might hear stories about strategic or marketing iteration, sales iteration, development and devops iteration, but iterating on internal operations usually isn’t the thing owners talk about first.

But they should.

As soon as you design and kick off a new internal process, success gaps always emerge. And if your culture supports iteration and improvements in general, the team can quickly identify and innovate to fill those process gaps.

Just like you’d iterate the sales process to figure out what value proposition and unique selling point captures the attention of your customers, you should be doing the same for all of your processes.

While project automation is hands-down the best-kept secret about building scalability into your business, combining it with process iteration makes it even that much more powerful.

Start building your business to scale

If you’re convinced that implementing better, faster processes is the key to your growth, then you might want to consider really spending time understanding the processes that currently exist and where your internal success gaps are.

Once you discover those success gaps, leverage a combination of project automation and process design to fulfill your execution and growth goals. 
Are you looking for a scalable tool to help align your team as well as monitor and support projects and goals? Give Rindle a try today.