To build a business that functions well, you need intentionally designed systems. It’s as simple as that, but can feel like the most complex work you’ll ever have to do as a business owner. The truth is that it’s not as hard as you may think. The first step to building a system with intention is to start documenting it—and this can be as simple as having your accountant write down how they process invoices. Getting critical information out of the head of a single employee (or out of your own!) not only eliminates dependence on individuals: It sets the foundation to transform how your business runs today into how you want it to run in the future.
Here are the top five tools that our EMyth Team and Clients use to build our own essential business systems:
1. Google Docs
The best tool for getting a system documented is oftentimes the simplest—a virtual piece of paper. Google Docs is one of our favorite options because it’s a free, secure platform for creating, editing and storing text documents, and its sharing feature lets you choose who has access and at what level. And because everything’s stored in the Cloud, you can access your files from any device with your login. At EMyth, we use Google Docs to brainstorm, collaborate across teams and write out Action Plans.
At EMyth, we use Asana to not only create and manage projects, initiatives and tasks, but to develop and store the processes that run our operations: This includes daily tasks like crafting and building emails. As a project management software, Asana is already designed for large businesses with multiple teams, so it’s an ideal place to keep workflows, goal-setting plans and templates.
Plectica is for the truly visual planner, for thinkers who prefer mind mapping and flow charts to lists and cards. But above all, it’s an ideal tool for thinking through complex ideas with many variables and touchpoints, such as your sales pipeline, systems design or even your company organizational chart. Aside from simply ideating and brainstorming, we’ve loved using Plectica at EMyth to develop our email marketing strategy, and to document and transform our customer journey map.
Though it’s designed as a project management tool, Trello is a versatile visual program that you can use to document your company processes, templates and tools development. The simple design allows you to create a board—from there you have an open design to create process flows (or projects) using cards and lists. So whether you want to formalize your system for, say, your customer delivery model, or outline the steps of a single project, Trello offers that flexibility.
5. Google Sheets
Google Sheets is our favorite tool for collecting and organizing large (or small) amounts of data. It offers the perfect features for templatizing key documents like your monthly sales report, so you can create a repeatable system and process for generating it. It has all the same sharing features as Google Docs as well as the same robust formatting and functionality options as Excel—all for free.
Once you’ve started documenting your existing business systems, start thinking about what other systems you might need. If you’d like to learn more about the steps to creating clear, action-based systems that your employees can follow, The EMyth Systems Guide can help.