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 isn't growing the way you expect it to.
Furthermore, as long as you ran 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 might not 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.
That's when you know you need a system in place.
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 processes defining how things should be done and by whom.
The leadership team, managers and executives often collaborate to write and distribute the business operating system rule book. 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 documentation tells you how a business should complete a task. The process helps you track your progress and easily identify bottlenecks.
🎓 Related resource: The A-Z Guide to Business Process Management
An effective business management process should be easy to follow by everyone, scalable and can be followed repeatedly, easy to access, and automated by tools like SweetProcess and its alternatives 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 or manage the p2p cycle, 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 employees 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 improve those processes and 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, so let Scribe write your processes for you.
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. Identify who should write which SOP by confirming who is the SME for each process.
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.
🎓 Related resource: Build SOPs for Your Manufacturing Team
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, logistics management and overall operational efficiency.
3. Specify roles
After process and systems, it's time to define the roles to be easy to comprehend, align with the company goals and culture, and clearly distinguish them. 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 SOP software and walk through your process. In seconds, Scribe will build a how-to guide, complete with text and annotated screenshots.
"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. 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 organization's goals.
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.
“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 toward process transformation when the time is right. Keep reviewing to evaluate if the BOS is still relevant to your business.
Key takeaways of a business operating system
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.