We’ve all heard the famous quote: “Work smarter, not harder”.

I wrote a blog recently on how to thrive in business where I explained systems and workflows, which I believe helps business owners with big visions work smarter and not harder.

But you had a lot of questions about that, so I’m going to use this blog to explain systems, processes and workflows in more detail and where they fit into your business.

Now if you’re thinking … Boring! I’ve got better things to spend my time on. Let me just say that systems, processes and workflows can equal more sales, money and profitability in your business.

So if that’s important to you then you should definitely read on!

What’s the difference between systems, processes and workflows?

SYSTEM: A system is a set of principles or procedures to how something gets done. It is an organised method.

PROCESS: A proves is the series of steps in the system that your team or automation follows to achieve a specific outcome (goal/output). This might involve different teams in the business, but is related to a specific system for example, your lead generation system involves Facebook ads. The process is the steps involved in setting up the ads.

WORKFLOW: The workflow is the specific sequence of tasks within those steps that need to be completed in order to achieve the specific outcome. This is where your team comes into play and the scope of work can usually be done by a single person or department.

What is an example of a system and a process?

Let’s have a look at an example of a system, a process and a workflow.

SYSTEM: Every business has (or should have!) a lead generation system. Let’s just say your proven lead generation system involves Facebook ads to a free download on your website. You might do other things but this proves very successful for you in generating a target number of leads each week.

PROCESS: The process is the set of steps involved in setting up that ad and download. It might look something like this:

  1. Create free download in Canva
  2. Write copy
  3. Create images
  4. Have download approved
  5. Check Facebook insights for previous ads that have been successful, for example a video ad
  6. Write copy for ad
  7. Create graphics for ad
  8. Have the copy and imagery or video approved
  9. Create a new Facebook ad in Ads Manager
  10. Add headline
  11. Add copy
  12. Add a call to action to the free download
  13. Choose or create your audience
  14. Add payment details
  15. Promote add
  16. Wait for approval from Facebook

That’s one of the processes that fit into your general lead generation system.

WORKFLOW: Now this is where the fun begins and where you can let your team shine. If you work with an OBM (like myself), your OBM would manage this system, process and workflow for you. The workflow is the sequence of tasks within those steps that need to be completed in order to achieve the specific outcome.

What does a workflow look like?

Let’s just take the first step in the process above: Create free download in Canva

The workflow looks like this:

  1. OBM delegates the task to your graphic designer to create the mockup of the free download.
  2. At the same time, they engage a copywriter to write the content of the free download, landing page and upsell email series.
  3. They also engage a photographer to capture some new images for the download and ad.
  4. The graphic designer sends the mock-up to the OBM to make changes and approve the design.
  5. The OBM also makes changes and approves the copy from the copywriter.
  6. They then choose the images from the photographer to use in the download and other marketing collateral, like the Facebook ad and the follow-up email series.
  7. The copy and images are then sent to the graphic designer with specific instructions of how the end outcome needs to be.
  8. Graphic designer sends the first draft of the free download to the OBM for changes.
  9. Graphic designer makes changes from OBM and sends the second draft back to the OBM for final checks and approval.
  10. OBM does the final checks on the complete download.
  11. OBM then has the free download approved by the business owner and sends the final draft to the graphic designer.
  12. The graphic designer makes final edits and sends a final uploadable PDF to the OBM.
  13. The graphic designer then starts working on the Facebook ad graphics and the email graphics.
  14. The OBM sets up the free download with a landing page and popup on the website, using the copy for the landing page previously written by the copywriter…

This is just part of the documented workflow to get a Facebook ad and free download live. This workflow is documented so it is repeatable every time you want to create a new Facebook ad and/or free download. And your team can see what needs to be achieved and by who.

The beauty of using an OBM to do this for you is that you as a business owner don’t use your precious time to do this mundane work, but can use your time to work smarter to get more clients and sales – or simply have time back to yourself to spend with your family.

Systems, processes and workflows are important in business

By now, I’m sure you can see the value in having systems, processes and workflows in your business. But they are time-consuming to set up and maintain, especially if you are doing them all yourself and for every aspect of your business.

Systems, processes and workflows save you time, increase your productivity and also help to increase your profitability. They are extremely helpful in running a successful business. Otherwise, you risk being the only person who can do a task within your business and you will struggle with being overwhelmed and not allowing your business to grow. You’ll feel stuck and tied to your business 24-7.

My best advice is to get your systems, processes and workflows in place now so you can let your team and automation work for you.

If you need a hand with getting the set up in your business, I’d love to help you. Book an initial chat to see if we are the right fit and how I can help you streamline your business processes.

Meanwhile, if you’re not at that stage yet, pop me in your back pocket and subscribe to my monthly newsletter where I share the latest news and workshops. You can sign up here.