Learn how to build systems in your small business, systemize any workflow, and delegate your processes once and for all in 3 EASY steps.
First, we MAP those workflows by process mapping.
Then, we EQUIP those workflows with templates, delegating key actions to technology or delegating to your team.
Finally, we TRY our process and create our business instruction manual (a digital wiki of standard operating procedures/SOPs) in our tool of choice (we create our SOPs in ClickUp).
Step 1: Map Your Workflow
Creating business systems, processes, standard operating procedures (SOP) — all of those things are not nearly as hard as they seem. The very first step in this process is mapping out the steps in the process.
Rather than thinking about things in terms of isolated tasks, we use flowcharts or other visual diagrams to show how all of the steps involved in a process connect and make it a true process. This way, we’re taking a step out of the weeds and looking at what we need to do as one kind of looping system.
How to Process Map / How to Build Business Systems
When we visualize a system in this way, by process mapping, we’re able to take individual tasks such as editing a video, promoting a YouTube video, sending an email newsletter – and connect those processes in a flowchart so we can see how one task affects the other. You can ask yourself questions like:
- What’s the best order of operations?
- Where do things slow down?
- Who’s in charge of what pieces?
All of these kinds of questions and answers can be much more clearly articulated, understood, and improved once we make a tangible, visual representation of them.
We recently shared a video where we went through how we track YouTube video ideas, vet those ideas, produce those ideas into videos and promote those videos across multiple channels with our content repurposing process map. Check out that video here: YouTube WORKFLOW Example | Reuse YouTube for Blog, Email, & Social.
It gives you an example of how easy it can be to just map the high-level steps involved in any given process. To recap: step one is mapping out your process. Don’t let it intimidate you! It can be a really fun way to analyze the situation with a different, visual perspective.
So now you’re wondering, how exactly would you do this step if you want to take action right now? To start a process map, grab a piece of paper and a pencil and just start creating a flowchart. Just start mapping out the steps in the process as far as you can see them. That’s it. Just start. Try not to get too detailed – you can always break it down later. Just map the big picture steps as much as you can, in no more than 20 minutes.
My example of process mapping: a YouTube repurposing workflow
If you find yourself erasing a whole lot and that bothers you, consider using sticky notes as each step in your process and just drawing your arrows on another sticky note to connect them all together. Alternatively, you can use Whimsical, Mural, Google Draw, Lucidchart – whatever you prefer to create your process map digitally. We used Whimsical’s free plan and it was just enough for the flowchart I was looking for!
Step 2: Equip your workflow with templates, tech, and team
So now you should feel good about how you want your process to flow. The second step of building out a process is to create equipment to support the process. This second step comes in 3 subcategories:
How can either of these 3 elements equip this process to flow a little bit better?
Create templates to streamline business systems
Templates is always the first subcategory we look at because it’s the easiest and it’s usually free to create.
Here, you’re asking yourself, “How can I template different steps in this process to make it flow just a little bit better?”
The next step is to look at that list and start to identify what are the things we need to create to bring that process to life.
For example, we need to create a messaging template that gives us all of the different pieces that we need to decide when it comes to drafting our content. Things like what are our:
We need to have those prompts. We could start by just putting it in a notepad or a Word Doc. However, when we’re building out our technology, later on, we’re going to add it into our ClickUp Task.
Putting your templates and SOPs into ClickUp
Similarly, later on in the process, we’re creating blog posts and email newsletters from our YouTube content. Both of these require us to create templates. As we’re going through this process map, we’re going to start identifying and creating a to-do list off of it. Here, we’ll list off all the different pieces of equipment we need to create.
This might be a blog template, an email newsletter template, etc. The kind of things that we can just copy when we get to that stage. This way, we won’t need to create them from scratch. This process will probably take a while but it’ll save us a lot of time in the long run.
Once we have Templates set up, we can put them into a Technology to help us manage that work.
We could have a tool, like ClickUp, which gives us the instructions and provides those prompts/scripts that we’ve created. You could also use more of a database to automate the execution of tasks.
We could use a tool like Dubsada or Honeybook to automate a workflow. Once we have our templates, or “ingredients” – then we need to equip the technology with that content that the technology needs to do its job and take care of things!
Delegate to a team when you can’t delegate to technology
So, we now have our templates and our technology. If there are still things in that process that we think we could do better, it’s time to pull in the Team. Team implies human beings who do something that can’t be templated and can’t be delegated to a technology. Ideally, you’re not giving them robot work – because humans are awesome so let’s use them for what they’re good at! These team members execute certain tasks in a process to make it flow better and to take things off your shoulders.
The goal of building out these processes is to spread out the work so one person isn’t in charge of everything. This team step of the equipment phase is a great opportunity for you to delegate the responsibility of certain processes. Either entirely or only certain steps (if you’re still delegating to VAs or contractors) so you can remove yourself from those pieces of the process!
Step 3: Try using your new workflow
So far, we’ve talked about mapping your process so you can finally see how all of the tasks are connected. Then we talked about equipping the overall process with tons of templates, technologies, and team members to help that process run better.
Now it’s time to talk about the final step of building out your processes: trying to use them.
Take the map that you created to guide your behavior. This includes the templates, the technology, and the team that you’ve now gathered. Now start trying to use them to accomplish this process!
If you have a team involved in this step, this “trying” phase is where you’re going to want to start documenting this process by writing it down so it makes sense.
Oftentimes, a flowchart is a good enough first pass at documenting. However, after a certain point, you might want to add some additional words on there. You might want to explain:
- What exactly does this box in the flowchart mean?
- What are the steps involved to complete that?
We’re adding instructions so you can try this process out. Once you try the process for a while, you might realize, “Oh, actually, back at the map stage, we have two steps and we don’t need both of them so we can go ahead and eliminate a step.” There you go. We go back to the map stage, we delete the extra step, we go to the equipment stage again, we could delete a template that we no longer need, and then we go back to the “try” stage and we do it all over again.
We complete this feedback loop again and again and again – and that is process improvement!
You’ve done it. You’re there. You now have your process built out. 🎉
We’re going to bring it back to a real-life example here in the “try” stage. When we were mapping, we mapped out our content repurposing. When we were in the prepping phase, we were creating a bunch of templates and resources that we could duplicate to go through this process faster.
In the “try” phase, we’re going to make the actual checklist we use for editing so we don’t miss a step in the process. We might want to explain exactly how to log into our social media scheduler to create the social media posts that are happening in a later step.
Response to involve your team in creating SOPs
To be clear, this doesn’t all need to be done in one sitting. We’re never going to be able to anticipate everything.
However, if we’re involving our team in the equipment phase, which many of you probably will be, any question that the team asks us about how exactly to do their step in the process should be responded to by saying,
“That’s a great question! Here’s the answer. Go add that to the SOP or go create the SOP if it doesn’t exist yet.”
So we’re delegating responsibility to help create these instructions in the “try” phase by actually listening to what questions people are going to have while doing the actual process. All of this stuff can happen organically and we can add it little by little.
Our processes are never going to be done, but they should always be getting better than where they were the last time we did that process.
We’d also like to note that in the “prep” phase, while we’re building a lot of templates and equipment and we might start to create some SOPs and documentation – our processes (our actual written documentation) is created in the “try” phase because we use ClickUp. We use a ClickUp Doc-based system where we create documents and attach them or link them into tasks.
That way, we can have our processes in one central document and connect them back to the ClickUp task that tells someone, “Hey, it’s time to do this thing. Here are the instructions on how to do it.”
You can learn more about that kind of document-based structure for creating SOPs in ClickUp by going and watching this video: 6 Ways to Create SOPs & Template Tasks | Advanced ClickUp Tutorial which talks about the 6 different ways to create documentation in ClickUp.
Share your action step
So there you go. We now have the framework that we’ll need to start creating our processes.
Map it out, prepare some equipment and then try it. Then, do it again and again and again.
What’s most important for any kind of loop like this is that you just start doing it.
You’re more likely to do something if you declare that you are going to do it. So to that end, send us an email at email@example.com and tell us what process you’re going to start creating for your business.
You’re going to start capturing, not creating just yet, for your business in your email. That way, your business can be a little bit stronger than it was yesterday.
This might be your content repurposing process, your onboarding process, how you answer the phone – whatever you’d like! You can now say to yourself, “I’m finally going to figure it out!”
We know this might be a scary topic for many of you but we want to end this article with a gentle reminder to enjoy the process!