Is there anything that sounds more like a corporate money pit than Business Process Implementation?  It sounds like something GE has been doing while their stock fell 50% in the past year.  But the reality is that process is extremely important.

As a company that manages network infrastructure, we’re admittedly biased.  Following established processes when managing a network is what ensures it’s stable.  Process allows the next person who encounters your network to understand how things are configured, and why they’re configured that way.  And when things do go wrong, our process is what allows us to respond quickly, assign the right resource and have the problem fixed as quickly as possible.  In short, process is really important for any Managed IT Service Provider.

Having established processes does more than keep your network running, however.  A great budgeting process keeps your company profitable even during the slow months.  A great hiring process reduces first-year turnover and prevents toxic personalities from destroying the culture you’ve created.  Great product creation or acquisition processes ensure that you can price your product competitively, and a great customer service process ensures that your customers can expect the same consistently excellent service every time they call you.  These are the four most commonly cited critical business processes.  These processes are essential in any business with more than one employee (and some of them apply to sole proprietorships, too).

Beyond finance, hiring, product acquisition/creation and customer service, what are the most important processes?  To some extent, it depends on the business.  Some, however, are consistently overlooked.  Here are a few processes that can make or break a business.

Innovation Process – Market changes can happen fast.  The problem is that it often takes a long time to prepare for changes in the marketplace.  If you get caught flatfooted, you could suffer for years while racing towards the new normal.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to let future problems be drown out by current crises.  There’s rarely a good time to take a break from day-to-day management and focus on long-term challenges, but there’s no time like the present. Once you do have some opinions of where the market will likely go, you’ll need a process to help your products and services be ready to be there, too.  Here are a few good principals to consider in any innovation process, and here is a skeleton framework of what the process might look like.

Employee Retention Process – Nobody is irreplaceable, but that doesn’t mean replacing employees isn’t expensive. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates it costs 50-60% of an employee’s annual salary in direct costs, and 90%-200% of their salary when you incorporate indirect costs. One fewer good employee leads to less work being done inside the company, after all.  Good employees, like good customers, are much cheaper to retain than to replace.

How many of your employees would turn down an offer for 15% more money to work for someone else?  Thinking about employee retention in these terms means you’re considering the likely reality you face; unemployment is exceptionally low, and the odds are high that your best employees are already receiving these offers.

An article in Entrepreneur magazine provides four factors that lead to increased retention, while CIO magazine lists six actions to increase your company’s employee retention.  Do you have a process in place to regularly evaluate your employee satisfaction?  Do you work as hard to be a competitive employer as you do to be a competitive service provider to your customers?

Disaster Recovery Process – There are hundreds of technology companies that sell disaster recovery products, including WingSwept.  That’s because if you lose your data, the odds are high that you’ll lose your business with it. The harder you think about doing your job without any historical information, the scarier that proposition becomes.

In truth, the reality is that it takes far more than restoring a few hard drives to make it through a disaster.  As we covered in a previous blog just prior to Hurricane Florence, you’re unlikely to excel at disaster recovery unless you’ve built a plan ahead of time.  If you’re unsure where to start on a disaster recovery plan, FEMA provides some helpful checklists and toolkits to get you started.