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Operators Manual

Operators Manual

How Much Value Is An Operations Manual?

We're across the table from the owner of the business.  We ask him if he'd be happy to show us his operations manual.

Typically, we get one of three responses.  It could be, "Maryanne, could you get the Operations Manual, please.  It's the blue folder on top of the filing cabinet."  Or maybe, "Yeah, I think it's around here somewhere, but it's probably out of date now."  Mostly we get something like, "We don't have anything formally written down, but everyone knows what to do."

Where do you fit?

So where do you fit? How much value do you place on your operations manual?  Do you actually have one?  Michael Gerber (author of The E-Myth) recently published his observation that only 19% of businesses have a functional operations manual, so maybe you're part of the manual-free majority - maybe you don't need one…

Before I start sounding cynical, here's how I see the benefits of having, using and maintaining an operations manual.  Underlying what I say here is the belief that people want to do the right thing.

Team Member A

I always do what I think is right. I work hard to get it right.

There's no operations manual, no systems to help me. There's no effective training.

Even though I try, I sometimes make mistakes simply because I don't know how to perform my tasks.  They expect me to know how to do things after showing me once.

Team Member B

I always do what I think is right. I work hard to get it right.

We have all our systems set out in an operations manual that is kept up to date.

By using the manual, I'm able to complete any task that's required of me.  Some of my suggestions have been used to improve the manual.  We know we can rely on it.

 

Let's see, both Team Members A and B are just like you and me - we wake up wanting to "do the right thing."  No-one I've met actually goes to work thinking, "Today I'm going to break something, leave out something important, or fail to check my work."

So if everyone wants to do the right thing, why is it they still make mistakes?

So if we start out with 'everyone wants to do the right thing' BUT people still make  mistakes, then what's missing?  Systems, that's what. The Operations Manual. 

A well-written operations manual will record the one best way of completing each of the tasks (the process and procedure) that make the business function.  It gives a voice to all the collected wisdom and experience that makes your business thrive.

By using it as a guide, your team will be able to perform to the best of their abilities, just as they want.  By managing through your operations manual (instead of in spite of it) you will achieve the potential you know exists in your business, just as you want.  You will truly have a system for running your business, so you won't need to rely so heavily on expertise, key people or good luck.

Whether you're saying, "I want to systemise my business," or whether it's just, "I've just got to fix that one problem area of my business that frustrates me so much," having an operations manual that is used by your team and is kept up to date will provide you with a great base for induction, training, performance management and even to demonstrate to customers and suppliers that your business works efficiently.

What next?

To look closer at how you can reduce inefficiency in your business by creating systems that people will actually use, visit Brain in a Box.  Then watch your business grow.

To read how you can create systems in your business, download the free eBook "10 Steps to Better Systems" from the Brain in a Box website.

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