Business processes, procedures and standards
Processes, procedures and standards explain how a business should operate.
For example, a retail or hospitality business may want to:
- put a process in place to achieve sales
- create mandatory procedures for staff that are opening and closing the business daily
- set a standard (policy) for staff clothing and quality of customer service.
Benefits of processes, procedures and standards
Developing processes, procedures and standards is particularly important if you are in the early stages of establishing a business, or when you are trying to rebuild or grow a business that has been underperforming.
Processes and procedures
Having formalised processes and procedures for your business can save you time and money by increasing efficiency. Staff can get more done in less time by following set processes and procedures, and you can spend less time overseeing the day-to-day running of the business.
Processes and procedures can also improve the consistency of product and service delivery by your staff.
Standards and policies
By creating standards and policies for your business, you set benchmarks that your staff must meet.
For example, you may have a standard for serving customers that involves being courteous, completing transactions within a certain time, and doing everything in your power to accommodate customer requests. This can improve the experience of your customers, suppliers and/or distributors in their dealings with you.
Customers who have a positive experience are more likely to become repeat customers, and are less likely to complain about your business.
Standardising key business activities
It's important to create processes, procedures and standards for your key business activities. Depending on your individual business, these may include:
- customer service (including a customer service program and after-sales service)
- sales practices and sales policies (e.g. guarantees, warranties and refunds)
- marketing and promotion (including online marketing and social media)
- staff training and performance reviews
- energy efficiency and environmental considerations (e.g. water restrictions)
- management responsibilities
- record keeping, privacy laws, reporting and money management
- use of technology (e.g. rules around staff internet usage) and mobile phones.
How to create effective processes, procedures and standards
In order for all of your business's processes, procedures and standards to be effective, they must be:
- documented (e.g. it's a good idea to create a 'standard operating procedures' manual)
- grounded in the vision and strategy of your business
- clear about general business procedures as well as role-specific procedures
- part of your staff training program, and made available in a user-friendly format afterwards (e.g. on paper or electronically as a PDF)
- practiced by management, so other staff will follow their lead
- discussed regularly in meetings (including positive and negative feedback)
- flexible and open to improvement
- designed to empower and inform, rather than constrain staff
- regularly reviewed and updated (especially due to legislative or compliance changes that affect your business).
Contact your business adviser if you need help creating effective procedures, processes and standards for your business.
- Last reviewed: 18 Jul 2017
- Last updated: 27 Jun 2016