i3 - March/April 2018 - 49

Business
By Jake Sigal
A DV I C E FO R E N T R E P R E N E U RS

Take the Time for a Spring Systems Check
Once our system is up on the
whiteboard, we look for:

1. Repetitive processes.

We switched over to
Slack for internal
communications and
haven't looked back.

This is the easiest to improve. Look for
the things that you do all the time.
Find better systems to lower the cost.
Find time to handle the increase in
volume. This includes everything from
creating templates for your reports
to switching to a printer that produces
more pages per minute. You'd be surprised to find out how much standing
by a printer costs the company over
the course of a few years.

2. Redundant systems.

 I 

Courtesy of Slack

ndustrial engineers (IEs) evaluate and improve
processes, systems and organizations. They look at time
and cost and seek value in every activity. This field was
the perfect fit for me. Many of my colleagues joke that I get
way too excited about saving a few seconds on a daily process.
I'm weird, and love it! Oddly enough, I only spent a year as
an IE before moving into product management.
Though not every entrepreneur
has an industrial engineering degree,
just about every entrepreneur I've
met has an IE mindset. I like to
think of it as a buried switch that
entrepreneurs can turn on at any
moment to uncover new efficiencies
allowing the business to go faster.
Springtime is the perfect time to
turn that switch on.
Before I run a spring systems
check, I first take the time to
evaluate and document. IEs document every process and use advanced
tools like IDEF0 modeling to
C TA . t e c h / i 3

describe manufacturing functions.
Entrepreneurs and business teams create pipeline flows, or engineering product development processes.
I like to start with a blank whiteboard and resketch our processes
for business and engineering activities,
and then compare it with our documents from the previous year. It helps
to identify activities or decisions
that may not have been documented.
Starting from scratch also allows
my management team to chime in,
and the conversation is sometimes more
valuable than the documented results.

It's amazing that even in a small company, redundancy exists. Be open to
asking the question, "Hypothetically,
what would happen if we stopped doing
this process or action?" It may feel very
uncomfortable, so look for objective
cost/risk ratios for deleting processes.
At my company, we removed all email
for one-to-one communication. We
switched over to Slack for internal communications and haven't looked back.

3. Work that doesn't add value.

Start with your recurring meetings.
Don't set them in perpetuity. Only
schedule them for six or 12 months.
Make sure to rename the last meeting
as a reminder that it's the last one
scheduled. It's really easy to fill up
a workday with meetings that made
sense earlier in a project, or before you
hired a person to help with a specific
task. That was then, this is now. Go
through every recurring meeting or
process and ask the stakeholders what
the output is and why it's valuable.

Spending too much time on business
processes can kill morale and threaten
any team in a small company. It's
a switch. It should either be on or off.
Whether it's an hour or a week, set
a timer on your spring systems check.
Make the changes quickly, and then
get back to growing your business.
MARCH/APRIL 2018

49


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i3 - March/April 2018 - Contents
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