The hallmark of a good process is that it makes work easier.

Your goal as a small business operator in developing systems is to create consistency and capture it in processes which can be optimized. Gurus who preach system development often encourage that you document everything. However, this can result in over-developed systems that work against consistency. If you have standard operating procedures with thirty different steps, layed out in detail, it’s likely you have a standard procedure that few people use.

Though we’re pursuing consistency, it’s important to keep in mind that the processes will be used again and again by people. People who don’t want to walk step-by-step through a manual of documentation again and again and who won’t watch a training video more than once.

The most effective systems lean on tools. Tools capture the nuanced lessons learned by process authors in a format that creates predictable outcomes. And they’re more likely to be used because they make work easier. Tools come in many forms, but the two most common are templates and checklists.

When you can create a process that is just five steps and two of the steps use a template and one a checklist, you have something that will be remembered and followed.

When you’re improving a process or creating a brand new one, your guiding question should be, “How can we make this as easy as possible?”