I’ve asked over 1,000 business owners these two questions at the various keynotes I give to business groups, and the answers are always the same. “How many of you ever worked at a business that had a formal policies and procedures manual?” 80 percent to 90 percent of the hands go up.
“How many of you actually used the policies and procedures manuals after the first 30 days of hire to get meaningful work done?” Fewer than 3 percent of the hands now get raised.
Why is that? We’ve all been taught how valuable documented procedures are in helping a company capture the best know-how of how to do a process, yet so few companies are able to get their teams to actually buy into this idea and use these systems.
The biggest problem is the outdated model of a policies and procedures manual itself. By its very nature, it’s a big book or binder filled with hundreds of pages of text that lays out the steps to do all of the functions inside a company. They are heavy, intimidating, overwhelming, and cumbersome.
For years I’ve suggested to business owners that instead of a policies and procedures manual they should build out their UBS, or “Ultimate Business System.” Your UBS is a living, breathing collection of best practices, contained in a user-friendly, searchable structure that your team can easily access, update, refine, and add onto as they perform their job functions.
Think of your UBS as the master system of how you’ll save, store, access, and update your systems. Generally, it will be a collection of file folders in a secure, cloud-based system, into which you’ll put your checklists, your worksheets, your templates, and your archived files. By creating a standardized naming structure, you can quickly search and access any needed tool in seconds through a quick key-word search (think “Google”) of the folder.
Inside your UBS, you’ll have your systems on how you hire, how you generate leads, how you process sales, and how you pay your vendors.
Your goal is to make your UBS a living, breathing way of doing business in your company–an ongoing practice. You’ll know you’ve won when you regularly hear your team say things like, “Did you add that to the UBS?” and “Great solution to that problem, can you UBS it?” This is not something that you sit down and do in one sitting. Your UBS is a discipline that your team will cultivate and refine over the long term.
Here is a sample layout for your UBS:
1.0 Sales Marketing
1.1 Lead Generation
1.2 Lead Conversion
1.3 Sales Team Tools
1.4 Sales Planning and Strategy
1.5 Sales Metrics and Reporting
2.5 General Administration
3.1 Accounting/Financial Reporting
3.3 Accounts Payable
3.5 Financial Controls
3.6 Cash-Flow Management
4.1 Hiring and Orientation
4.2 Training, Review, and Retention
4.3 Benefits Administration
4.4 Labor Compliance
4.5 Exit Processes
5.1 Strategic Planning
5.2 Leadership Development/Succession Planning
5.3 Company Culture and Traditions
5.4 Communications Companywide
Your UBS will not only help you ensure that your systems capture the most relevant, useful knowledge of how to run a specific part of your company, it will help you spread into the culture of your business the discipline of systems-based solutions versus ad hoc, difficult to replicate and scale behaviors.
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