Our goal at ProcessPlan has always been to be the most innovative process management tool on the planet. That requires thinking differently, and sometimes, creating what we need from scratch.
Today, we are introducing an unprecedented concept that just may change the way you manage your business. This new concept makes it possible to build an entire custom business management system within ProcessPlan without the need for other ancillary tools such as spreadsheets, CRM systems, and project management software. Finally, everything you need to run your business effectively is in one place.
We’re calling this new feature Process Tables.
But before we get to the how, let's cover the why.
Why we need Process Tables
Most business software systems are good at storing and displaying information, but they are not good at enforcing standardized and repeatable processes. Millions of dollars evaporate from businesses every year because of simple avoidable mistakes, miscommunications, and lack of oversight. It’s no secret this only gets worse the larger an organization grows. Mistakes will always occur so long as business management systems have no way to enforce systematic processes, procedures, and decision making.
Here’s a simple example. Say a client agrees to a "fixed fee" project for $30,000 and when the project is set up in the billing system someone forgets – or is never told – to select the "fixed fee" billing option. Therefore, the project is billed based on the default "time and materials" basis instead of the agreed upon "fixed fee." Also say the service provider only has $23,000 of time and materials invested in the project. The invoice goes out the door for $23,000 instead of the agreed upon $30,000. The service provider just lost $7,000 of pure profit solely because someone selected the wrong option in the billing system.
Businesses lose tens of thousands of dollars in profit each year because of seemingly small errors like this one. Many companies never even discover that this is happening.
So someone pressed the wrong button, what’s the point? Let’s take a look at another example. In most organizations, setting up a new prospect, lead or customer is a simple matter of opening an input screen, entering the required information in the profile, and clicking save. The business management system, or in some cases CRM, does not validate the data is correct. It does not care where the data came from, how it got there, if it's accurate, if it's complete, if it's been approved, if all the prerequisites have been satisfied or even if it's a real prospect, lead or customer. All the business system cares about is that there is data in the required fields. The data itself could actually be complete gibberish – ever received an email that said Hi firstname – and the business system would not catch it.
Without a set of rules to provide structure and to funnel valid information to the new customer, there is no way to ensure quality and accuracy. You can see the risk here, right?
- This is how we end up with customers that have the wrong payment terms.
- This is how we end up with customers that have no account manager assigned.
- This is how we end up providing products and services to high-risk/low-reward customers that were not vetted properly.
- This is why customers do not show up on the right reports because they were not classified correctly.
- This is how customers get setup with the wrong billing address causing a 90-day delay in payment.
- This is how customers get setup with the wrong sales tax settings.
- This is how we end up providing services BEFORE a customer actually signs an agreement.
You get the idea.
These are real issues that affect every organization in the world. Now, extrapolate the two examples above across every business unit, every department, every function, every employee and every decision of every day. With countless decisions being made by people and volumes of information flowing between people and all of it happening completely untethered to any structure or rules (such as email, Slack, spreadsheets, etc.), it's no wonder organizations get inconsistent results. Inconsistent results naturally lead to lost revenue, unhappy customers, damaged reputations, stressful conversations, sleepless nights and other (often unforeseen) negative outcomes.
How Process Tables lead to success
So how do most companies typically solve these issues? They hire middle management to keep things between the ditches. That typically compounds the problem, though.
There is another solution: what if you could ensure that every decision and transaction within your organization had to follow a systematic and repeatable set of rules that could never be circumvented. Decisions and transactions simply could not happen unless people followed the corresponding process. You could practically eliminate inconsistent results, and when mistakes did occur, you could immediately modify the underlying rules to ensure the same mistakes never happened again.
In addition, since every decision and transaction would have to follow a structured set of rules, status reporting of anything would become not only possible, but easy! This is because every decision and transaction would happen in the system for all to see, as opposed to being buried in people's inboxes, spreadsheets and chat tools where they are invisible to other stakeholders.
Introducing Process Tables
Lets revisit our new customer example from earlier. Instead of employees having the ability to enter a new customer directly into a "new customer screen" with no structure or rules supporting the action, in ProcessPlan, we can now let the process itself do the work.
ProcessPlan dynamically stores the data from each step along the way – from inputting billing information to validating company contact information – to create the record in the customer table. Basically, there is no need to separately set up a new customer. Completing the process is the customer record. They are one in the same.
The process becomes a record in the Process Table – get it?
The data collected, and the decisions made during the new customer setup process are captured and become a record in the customer's Process Table. Therefore, it’s not possible to circumvent the process or enter invalid information. Employees simply cannot create a new customer unless they complete the process and follow the rules. Problem solved. Dare we say, forever.
We already know that ProcessPlan enforces consistent rules and structure to prevent things from veering off course. (Businesses no longer need to add managers and expense just to ensure quality and accuracy.)
Process Tables takes this a step further as they allow you and your organization to leverage the data already created as a part of your everyday processes. It becomes incredibly compelling when you apply the feature to every aspect of your business. Think products, services, orders, procurement, inventory, R&D, sales, marketing, and more. An organization running on this new paradigm could practically eliminate mistakes across every functional area.
Watch the video below for a live introduction
Getting started with Process Tables
We’ll be the first to say, we are barely scratching the surface of what Process Tables will allow your company to do. We’re inspired by the potential for this feature to revolutionize the way you manage your business.
Process Tables are available within ProcessPlan. We recommend starting with one or two processes and iterating from there. This feature can be implemented gradually to put your company on the road to becoming a scalable, mistake-free, profit-producing, well-oiled machine.
Be on the lookout for more examples of how Process Tables will impact and improve every area of your organization from inventory management to customer communication. In future posts, we will expand on this idea and share how you can use ProcessPlan to do more than you imagined – from preventing mistakes to maximizing revenue and nearly everything in between.
A side note
Soon, we will announce prebuilt business operating systems designed around Process Tables for a few, select industries. These prebuilt business operating systems will be built and managed entirely within ProcessPlan. We can’t wait for you to see them. If you think your industry is a good candidate for a prebuilt ProcessPlan-based operating systems, please get in touch here.