Business processes should be viewed as an asset that is diligently managed, maintained and improved upon. This is because even the very best business plans will fail without process consistency. The need for consistency may seem obvious enough that it doesn’t even warrant a discussion. But the truth is, many businesses – especially small businesses – operate daily with processes that are disorganized, lack consistency, and are inefficient.
Consistency facilitates replication, and replication is often the key to growth and expansion, whether it’s for the owner of a franchise or the massive global scale of companies like McDonald’s (MCD) and Starbucks (SBUX). A Big Mac tastes (pretty much) the same wherever you go, and ‘Venti Latte’ is a lingua franca in over 55 countries.Michael Hess
Consistency is necessary for any business to succeed because anytime you start a new project the initial excitement will keep people motivated for weeks or even months. Eventually, that will wear off and this is where process consistency is so beneficial. By developing consistent standards and processes that go hand-in-hand with the values of the organization every area of a business will benefit.
What is Process Consistency?
What is a process? A process is a set of clearly defined tasks that must take place to complete a business activity. Different people are responsible for completing each task and they understand fully how they should do this and when the tasks must be completed by.
Process consistency is simply a system you put in place that will support your overall business strategy. It makes businesses more competitive because they are able to easily evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and find areas where they can improve. Their products and services are delivered consistently which increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Process consistency allows businesses to deal with the unknown and react to changes in the competitive landscape. Process consistency allows companies to know when they are doing things right and make changes when they are not.
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Why is Process Consistency Important?
Simply put, when businesses don’t model process consistency they are being inefficient as Forbes outlines in this article. No matter what your industry, the more you can implement process consistency the better. The goal isn’t to over-complicate basic processes; the goal is to streamline operations without any unnecessary complexity.
Here are five reasons why process consistency is important:
- It allows for measurement
You can’t decide whether or not a system works until you have tried it consistently over a period of time. You can’t measure what is effective if it is not being performed with consistency.
When beginning a new process try to give it at least six months before you decide whether it is a success or failure. You can make minor changes along the way but try not to implement any major overhauls until the six months are up.
- It creates accountability
This is especially important when you are managing employee performance. When you have clear goals and expectations set in place employees will be more empowered to act on their own and leaders have to spend less time micromanaging.
Create consistent and recurring patterns for communicating with your team and a set time to report on their progress. Businesses function better and employees are much happier when everyone knows that is expected of them.
- It demonstrates a track record of success
It is hard to be successful when you are always changing things and trying out new tactics. If your goals are not clear then it will be hard to succeed no matter how good your tactics are. Often projects fail simply because the team was inconsistent in their efforts to achieve the desired objective.
- It shows you are reliable
Many businesses will adopt a new marketing strategy only to abandon it just before it starts to gain momentum. It takes time for new campaigns to gain traction and it is important that your customers hear from you on a consistent basis. Develop a strategy for advertising and distributing content on a predictable basis throughout the year.
- It reinforces your message
Employees will pay attention to your actions far more than they will listen to what you say which is why it is important to develop a consistent leadership model. So if you treat things like meetings as unimportant, don’t be surprised when they model that behavior.
If something doesn’t work and your team fails to deliver on a project, take a serious inventory of what happened. Were your expectations unrealistic? Did you make changes too soon? Often you will find that a lack of process consistency was the culprit.
Who is impacted by Process Consistency?
It is important to remain consistent with any products or services you provide. This may seem obvious but this is not always the case with some businesses and it is not unusual to find vast differences in the quality of products or services some companies produce. This will not only disappoint your customers but it will impact your company’s sales and likely cause you to lose business.
Customers should know what to expect every time they interact with your business. And if those expectations and interactions are positive, by meeting them consistently you will create loyal customers who continue to buy from you. And as I outlined in this article, you will also benefit from word-of-mouth marketing as your customers begin to recommend you to people they know.
Your employees are just as important to your business as your customers. Employees should know what standards are expected of them and how they will be treated. Employees that are treated with consistency will be happier and feel more secure, bringing in more money for your business. If your employees are unhappy this will result in a high turnover rate and will hurt your business in the long run.
The most important traits of process consistency are patience and focus. You should develop a realistic time frame for when you can expect your efforts to begin producing results. Avoid making any decisions until after at least six months. The focus is important because any random action is ineffective; 20 percent of the tasks you do will be responsible for 80 percent of your success.
One important thing to note is that process consistency does not mean work that is boring or uncreative. When you incorporate process consistency into different areas of your business you are simply creating roadmaps. It is possible to be very consistent without stifling creativity or individuality. Consistency and flexibility should go hand-in-hand; you can say the same thing a hundred different ways and still remain true to the message your employees and customers are expecting.