Imagine this. You grew your business from 0 to 1 at a supersonic speed without many hiccups. You take pride in growing your business with sheer will and force.
But suddenly, as your business grows complex, it seems you have hit the ceiling. Your business is not growing the way you expect it to grow.
Furthermore, as long as you were running the business independently, your customers were happy.
But now your employees don't know how to execute the business your way. As a result, you end up executing things all by yourself with hardly anytime to think and devise new business strategies.
You don't even have access to the right people, data or resources to help you decide the next way forward. As a result, you start feeling burnout.
But this doesn't need to be the case! Welcome business operating system.
What is a business operating system?
A business operating system (BOS) is a set of processes that lets you run your organization more efficiently and optimally. It comprises important tools and various processes and defines the specific way of doing things.
The leadership team, managers, and executives often collaborate to write the business operating system rule book that transcends everyone in the organization. The business operating system aims to help every employee know their role in the organization, how to do different tasks, and help them align with the overall organizational goal.
Importance of a business operating system
- A good business operating system helps you reduce operating costs.
- Helps establish business credentials.
- Improves risk management system.
- Guarantees customer satisfaction.
- Improves stakeholder relationship.
- Helps foster a positive work culture.
Key elements of a business operating system
A strong business operating system should cover every aspect of your business. Note that it's dynamic and should continue to evolve as the business grows. If you're starting, here are some key elements of the business operating system.
Processes are checklist that tells how a business should complete a task. The process helps you track your progress and easily identify bottlenecks.
An effective process should be easy to follow by everyone, scalable and can be followed repeatedly, easy to access, and automated by tools to fasten up repeat and monotonous tasks.
The system helps you define how you will complete a task. Systems include both the hard and soft side of the business —- technology, functions, people, and culture.
For example, a hard people system would be how to process the payroll, while a soft people system would be the set of conducts that employees need to demonstrate or how you hire talents in the organization.
Upholds the company's vision
The business operating system should uphold the company's vision and help all the employees to align with it.
A robust structure
A structure is a business operating system's underlying framework. A robust structure should include the culture, uphold the company's values, clearly mention the daily processes, and empower the people to help them achieve results more efficiently.
Creating a business operating system is useless until you document everything so anyone can access it at any time. Documentation may sound overwhelming, but Scribe lets you document all your processes in no time!
Scribe is a process documentation software that auto-generates step-by-step guides with text and annotated screenshots, which can be easily edited, shared and embedded anywhere.
Here it is in action.
How to build a business operating system
Implementing a business operating system can seem overwhelming, especially if setting it up from scratch. So here's a step-by-step guide to help you get started.
1. Develop the process
Start building your BOS by developing the process for every repetitive task you do. Start with daily tasks and then move to your monthly and yearly tasks. To make your processes transparent and effective, make them well-defined and detailed.
Keep the language simple so that everyone can understand. Keep it accessible to all by sharing it on a centralized platform. Ensure it's trackable and automates repetitive tasks.
2. Build your systems
Once your processes are aligned, build strong systems specific to a task and let you achieve your goals. Remember, successful systems should be flexible and open to feedback and adjustment and must be able to improve the customer experience, employee experience, and overall operational efficiency.
3. Specify roles
After process and systems, it's time to define the roles that are clearly defined, easy to comprehend, align with the company goals and culture, and have a clear distinction. While defining the roles, emphasize more on the roles and not the people who are performing the roles.
4. Align skills with structure
Once you specify the roles, align them with the skills needed to perform the role effectively. Skills can be both soft ( like communication, attitude, creativity, collaboration, etc.) and hard skills ( domain knowledge, technical expertise, etc.). Now align your employees with the skills they have that match each job role. This will easily help you identify the gaps and hire the right talent.
5. Documentation is the key
To make your BOS a foolproof plan, document everything. Scribe lets you create process documents in minutes.
Just turn on the Scribe recorder and walk through your process. And BINGO! Your Scribe document is ready.
"Scribe is so easy to use for SOPs. It creates step-by-step instructions as you click and types in fields. This is a game-changer when it comes to writing SOPs!" — Todd Z., Operations Consultant
6. Deploy & reinforce
Once your BOS is ready, it's time to deploy it. Make a plan and implement it strategically to avoid any chaos. Once you deploy, reinforce its value, and encourage your employees to practice it.
Best practices for building & maintaining a business operating system
Your business operating system should set clear expectations for everyone in the organization. Break down each role in a team and document what each one does and how they contribute to the organizational goal. Do the same across teams at a larger level. Everyone in your team must be aligned and accountable; setting clear expectations upfront will ensure that.
“Standardizing processes is critical to building and maintaining a business operating system (BOS).
Standardization helps to ensure that everyone in the organization is on the same page and working towards the same goals. It also guarantees that all employees follow the same procedures, resulting in consistent outputs and outcomes. This reduces errors and improves the quality of work.
When standardizing processes, involving all stakeholders, including employees, managers, and subject matter experts, is essential. This ensures that everyone understands the purpose and benefits of standardization and can provide input on the best ways to standardize processes.” —James Wilkinson, CEO of Balance One Supplements
2. Identify & address issues
Hiccups in businesses are common. It can be a vendor issue, an unhappy customer, certain factors disrupting your business, and so on. These things happen, so you need to be ready with a business continuity plan and how to pivot around them quickly. By doing so, your business operating system empowers everyone in the team to navigate easily during a challenging time.
3. Set goals
Setting expectations is good for helping your team understand what their deliverables are. But how do you know they are hitting their goals without measuring them?
So your business operating system needs to include a clear process of measuring goals not just at the team level but at the individual level. That way, everyone will know their performance without getting last-minute surprises during performance reviews.
“Regular meetings help us stay aligned with our goals. We present reports on the team’s progress, fostering a sense of accountability among our people.” — Stephan Baldwin, Founder, Assisted Living
4. Evaluate & improvise
Finally, remember that businesses are evolving, and dynamics are constantly changing. Your business operating systems should be flexible so that you can quickly pivot when a need arises. Keep reviewing to evaluate if the BOS is still relevant to your business.
A strong BOS and an efficient team is the key to your success. But while you can always look at other companies and take inspiration, remember that there's no "one size fits all" approach to building a business operating system.
As Gauri Manglik, CEO and Co-Founder of Instrumentl, says, "it's always better to start with a holistic approach—a top-down approach—because that's how you can build something that works for everyone. You have to make sure your team is on board with it. It's not just about getting buy-in from people at the top—it's also important to get buy-in from everyone else."
Hope the above tips and guidelines will help you to build your first BOS. And if you want to try out Scribe for creating process documents, experience the tool here.