I just spent a couple of hours on a Saturday detailing out a potential new high-value process in our firm that we’ll be launching soon to new clients. This process is going to bring a lot of clarity to all of the moving parts that our team is involved in during our client’s onboarding.
I want to detail a few points about the value of building processes before I talk about the main point of this article.
- Processes for services firms are the best way to lay out how you will deliver the value of your firm. You will typically find that longer, more detailed processes produce greater consistency in a services company than allowing the team members to just do what they want. This is not always true (in the case of poorly created processes), but the invisible nature of our service-based companies needs rails to run on. Processes are our rails and they pipe value through our companies in amazing ways.
- Processes bring a lot of clarity to the work your team is doing, and the value your client is consuming. These two things have to be aligned (the client has to consume and use the value your firm is building and outputting or there will be misalignment with the client). The team is clear on what is to be delivered, and the client is clear on what is to be received. Keeping these two things in alignment means you will have happy, healthy clients and team as you grow.
- Processes are often internal to your firm, while some are built collaboratively with the client. Few firms have tapped into the deep value that can be found in building processes collaboratively with your client. You can probably assume that your clients don’t have a lot of processes they use (most small businesses don’t). So when you sell a service or a new piece of software to use with your client, add to that software the building of a collaborative process with the client (and charge for it!). We usually do this type of work in 3 separate meetings to keep them to 1 hour or under. The client becomes clearer on what is being achieved and you get to serve them better since the building of the process collaboratively was part of the value of helping everyone know what is to be expected.
- Building processes in your firm allows you as the owner to pull out of your head all of the disparate parts of what you do, and to organize it into a numbered list. If you do this you will find that you know way more about this process than you thought, that you have more opinions about the process than you thought, and you will actually add new steps to the process you didn’t originally think about just by writing it all down. This process of ‘emptying your mind’ is very healthy mentally too. There is a lot you think about in your firm as an owner, and we know from experience that one of the many things swirling around in your head are processes that need to be pulled out and put on paper.
Now that I talked through some thoughts on the value of processes, I wanted to touch on integrating your processes into your firm. We have a leadership team in our firm that helps us build these processes, vet them, and deploy them out to the team. Further, the leadership team leads our overall team in building the processes too. So everyone has a hand in learning how to build processes in our firm.
Back to the first paragraph where I said I spent some time detailing a high-value process for our firm. In our firm, my partner and I act as Visionary/Integrator on all things flowing from our partnership and into our firm. Following the process of Visionary/Integrator roles, we both have particular roles we hold in our firm to keep the whole firm running smoothly.
As the visionary, I will typically do something related to a new idea, some new service we are selling, seek to move into a new market, etc. And my partner Julie vets all of those ideas as my Integrator. Before anything hits our team, or clients, or market, our ideas will have been generated, vetted, improved, documented, and deployed, all in particular ways. It leads to a lot of clarity and a lot of resulting value for our clients.
I got excited just to dump these thoughts on this new process out of my head and onto paper – so I put the whole initial process into our Leadership team’s room in our online chat system. I knew we would want to get their voice and help in order to make the process stronger, and so that they can ultimately lead the team in applying this new bulky, valuable process. But I skipped a step! All process-building (and any other new things we put in our firm) goes through our Visionary/Integrator process. I went around this when I took it directly to our Leadership Team. I may not always catch that I do this, so Julie reminded me that the new process will go through her first, and then to our team. Even now, after working in these Visionary/Integrator roles with Julie for so long, I still move headlong into something with speed and at times forget the very foundational principles we have committed to that make us healthy and valuable.
If you don’t have a partner or an operational person you can run your brain-dumped processes through, consider joining a community like Thriveal where the members help each other with these types of valuable collaborations as they build their firms.
Jason is the Founder of Thriveal and the Chief Innovative Officer of his CPA firm, Blumer & Associates. He is the co-host of the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and creatives, his firm’s chosen niche. Jason loves to watch documentaries on just about anything. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife and their three children.