Does Your Agency Have a System?

What is a Business Operating System and why is it ideal for the Home Care Owner?

A Business Operating System (BOS) is your company’s unique way of doing things–how it operates, goes to market, produces and deals with its clients.

This system is a personalized strategy. It is a collection of business processes to boost the efficiency of every area of your business. It includes foundational framework, policies and routines needed to operate and grow your business. This system process has been a tactic used by a wide-range of companies which include The Boeing Company, The Lego Group, and Toyota Motor Corporation. Because this system is a personalized strategy, it is your company’s unique way of doing business–how it operates, goes to market, produces and services its clients.

An effective BOS transcends the people who are doing and managing the work, and is more valuable as a result. A business that effectively operates without you is not only more attractive to buyers when that time comes, but also allows you as the owner to achieve the quality of life you strive for.

In order to create an effective system…it is key to view your service as the business itself rather than the commodity/service you produce. This paradigm enables the owner to think of the business as a model for 100 others just like it. For example, Chick-fil-A commodity – chicken and waffle fries–are not claimed to be the best. However, Chick-fil-A product–its business operating system–is undoubtedly one of the best. Right? Right.

Great organizations create and reinforce a rigorous discipline about the little things that affect their client and employees. They have instilled a discipline in their business via a BOS and reinforced discipline at a personal level through their cultures. Personal and organizational discipline help breathe life into your BOS and enable you to sustain it over time, making it the way you do business rather than just a set of hollow procedures.

I have read articles on BOS and all its components. These components work very well with small business – specifically Home Care and Assisted Living Facilities. I found that I myself had somewhat perfected this system in my own business without even realizing it.

The below strategy is a glimpse of what I do when working with a client in developing a BOS system through our Operational Mastery Program. Sometimes it takes weeks and sometimes months but the results are always the same. A fine tuned Business Operating System to position for growth and max out value through the lifetime of the business.

Components of The Business Operating System.

It is important to create each system component to be scalable, up or down, for future growth or down turn. The components are interrelated as with any living system. Therefore, the successful owners will address all components and understand how they affect each other. A description of the five components JR3 Coaching & Consulting focuses on is presented in this specific order of priority for effectively creating your business operating system.

  1. Processes
  2. Systems
  3. Roles
  4. Skills
  5. Structure

1. Processes: Underdeveloped work processes are a common risk factor for growing companies, and are the first thing that will cripple a company in tough economic conditions. In addition to traditional work processes, we include other processes like communication, decision-making and conflict resolution. Streamlining your manual process should be the first system component we create. Effective processes are:

  • Replicable
  • Documented
  • Supported by tools
  • Easily accessible
  • Clear

2. Systems: This component addresses hard and soft systems including: technology, financial, marketing, operations and people. A hard people system is your payroll and human resources information system, whereas soft people systems include performance management, selection, compensation and development systems. Well-designed and applied systems create predictable client and employee experiences and also enhance your operational efficiency. Your employees should be disciplined in using a system of prospecting, qualifying, proposing, presenting, closing business and quality assurance.

3. Roles: Defining clear roles is a big challenge that requires significant personal discipline. You should write a job description (even if a brief one) for all roles within your agency. Remember to focus on the role itself, not the person. At the early stages of your business, one person may play multiple roles. By creating the roles first, you acknowledge this. As your company changes, predefined roles will enable you to make more effective decisions about which roles an employee should continue or discontinue doing and who you should add/delete from the payroll to effectively implement this change. This step is about defining the required roles to accomplish your company’s mission, and securing division of labor.

4. Skills: Now that we have clear roles that your business requires, we can more precisely match the necessary skills to each role. Effective processes and systems will ensure the highest and best use of their talent. Your systems and processes should be created for the lowest common denominator so they are not people-dependent. In other words “keep it simple”. This will free up your employees’ minds and time so they can focus on more creative, proactive ways to improve your business. It is common to see talented employees who are underemployed because they are using excess time trying to figure out how to get their work done. You want your employees doing work that makes full use of their natural skills and abilities. By doing this you will set up a strong leadership culture in your office. When you fill your roles, it is important to match the role requirements with the employee’s skills and natural style. Ensuring a skills match has obvious benefits. This can be achieved via a simple style assessment and helps the employee be successful. We all can remember a time when we were in a role for which we were not ideally suited, resulting in greater stress and lower productivity than we (and the company) would prefer.

5. Structure: The key to an effective organizational structure is to design it before you need it–then grow into it. It takes great discipline for owners to design the other four components before they design their organizational structure. In fact, fussing with structure is one of the great executive past-times. Unfortunately, this typically ignores the other, more substantial components. Structure dictates process. That’s why I have outlined the sequence of these components in this order. If you create a structure first, your business process will be constrained by your structure and may not reflect the needs of your business and clients.

Defining your processes and systems first, as we suggest, results in an organizational structure that supports the way you do business rather than constraining it.

Winston Churchill said, “For the first 25 years of my life I wanted freedom. For the next 25 years I wanted order. For the next 25 years I realized that order is freedom”. A strong business operating system will provide you and your business the order and freedom to work on your business rather than in it.

Jennifer Ramos is a Sales Agent with Sunbelt Business Brokers of San Diego Coast and is the founder and CEO of JR3 Coaching and Consulting, a home care consulting group that gives agencies a market advantage, promotes creative service development, and offers viable ways to achieve and sustain organizational and fiscal success.