Looking to create a new process? Learn from my failures and follow these 7 steps to save yourself a headache. The headaches of headaches. The King Kong of headaches. Also, save yourself from looking like a complete ass.

Step 1: Identify & Communicate The “Why”

My Failure: Not outlining why the current process is broken, and how a new process will propel the business forward.

Solution: Identifying the “why”. Leadership wants to increase revenue (aka production) without growing in size and without outsourcing the majority of work. A new process will move projects through the company quicker while improving the quality of work and customer experience. Simply put, more work in less time.

Step 2: Pick A Format

My Failure: During the excitement of changing and creating process we divvied up the key agency processes and tackled them individually before coming together to present.  One person presented a process in essay form, one in an excel doc, and another with paragraphs inside of an excel doc. It was a mess and we realized we needed to pick a consistent format.

Solution: Create a step by step excel document which will then be transferred into your project management system. See below:

Step 3:  Define The 3 Ps

My Failure: I assumed everyone knew the difference between “process”, “procedures”, and “policies”. Well, they didn’t so the process document was confusing and inconsistent.

Solution: Get on the same page. These small things make a world of difference. Here is how we defined each:

  • Process: High-level series of tasks that need to be completed for the success of the project.
  • Procedure: The specific steps that need to be taken to complete the task at hand.
  • Policy: Rules and guidelines of how the process and procedures are completed. We chose to not include policy in our process documents. 

Step 4:  Create Accountability

My Failure: At this point, our leadership team had been put through the wringer and we thought we crossed the finish line. Once we put the process into place, it immediately fell apart. This was due to a lack of accountability. Too many team members were involved in the process and blame was being passed around like herpes at Coachella (too soon?).

Solution: Each step of the process was owned by one team member and one team member only. The Account Director was accountable for the pre-discovery and discovery process, while the Project Manager was accountable for the remainder of the project. It was our duty to ensure each team member did their tasks on time and on budget. When the process broke down, and when deadlines were missed, we knew who was responsible.

Step 5: Communicate & Train

My Failure: While the leadership team worked for months on documenting and creating new processes, at times bantering like the Desperate Housewives, we did not realize the people actually doing the work had no clue what was coming. As we presented the new processes proudly, the team poked holes in every single step. They did not appreciate that we dictated how they should do their job without consulting them.

Solution: Don’t be a dick. Communicate what is going on and why. Get buy-in from the team from the beginning. Millennials need to feel heard rather than ruled.

Step 6: Evaluate

My Failure: We approached the implementation part of the process with a “set it and forget it” mentality. This created a robotic feel to our entire operation along with resentment towards the new processes.

Solution: Floor managers should monitor the process and listen to feedback while the process is still new. The leadership team needs to seriously consider suggestions from the floor and make tweaks to the process as needed. Most tweaks will be made to the procedures at this point, rather than the entire process.

Step 7: Be Flexible

My Failure: We stuck to our new processes so tightly that some clients noticed a decline in empathy and compassion towards their needs. This was justified internally by restating our “why” …but this fell on deaf ears and created tension.

Solution: Clients are human (well, for most of us). Certain requests or circumstances may require revising your processes for specific projects. While the high-level processes remained the same, small procedures may change from client to client. There are times to bend and there are times to stand strong on your process, that is your judgment call to make.