Tasks are the smallest pieces and building blocks of work in any business.
Every project or day to day works breaks down into several tasks. Registering a new patient in a medical clinic composed of, greeting the patient, filling some initial forms, checking the insurance of the patient, consent forms, informing the patient about HIPPA, putting the information into the registration software and so on.
For a business to be successful, each specific task has to be done exactly the same no matter who is doing the task. People are coming to your business with a set of expectation. Most probably they found you online or someone recommended your business to them or simply they are your regular clients.
Nothing can damage your business like keeping changing your services and your customer services. A hairdresser for instance, if she spends 30 minutes one day on your hair and the next time 10 minutes, that raise your concern about what is going on.
Keeping a consistent service is the secret to all chain business in the world. The reason Starbucks, Costco, MacDonald, and other business are so successful is not their products, but the consistency of what they sell.
One of the first steps in organizing your business and planning for success is to define the tasks in your business.
In the dental clinic, for instance, cleaning the treatment room is a job that composed of several tasks of gathering the used tools, cleaning the machines, disinfecting the tools and devices and covering them with plastic covers, and so on. Forgetting any of the tasks in a dental clinic treatment room can cause a lot of problems for the patient and consequently for the clinic.
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
Every task has to have instruction on how to the task. The instruction of how to the task is called SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).
An SOP is usually in the form steps and writes in the form of bullet points.
Here is a sample of an SOP of checking the insurance card of a patient:
- Ask for the insurance card
- If the client doesn’t have insurance get the information and ask him or her to bring the next time
- Check online for the validity of the insurance card,
- If the card is valid, do XYZ
- If the card is not valid, do something else
Before implementing any new changes in the task, everyone involved in that task needs to be informed or be trained for the new change. Don’t surprise your clients and your other co-workers by changing the tasks.
Probably one of the most important thing in any business is marking the checklist.
In one research doing checklist correctly prevent 60% mortality rate in an emergency room and reduced the morbidity by 40%.
Most of the task and jobs on any business are some routine that needs to be done exactly the same all the time.
Having a checklist for each task, assure you that the tasks are done and the business is on autopilot. You can use a paper checklist or computerized software checklist that everybody makes a checkmark on his or her own tasks at the end of the day or whatever routing you have. To make sure everything is running smoothly, your job as a manager is to check the checklists at the end of each week.
One of the best ways to manage a business is to check the task of each employee. Instead of managing people, manage tasks that are done by employees.
Instead of having a job description, make tasks list and evaluate your employees by the quality of the tasks they are doing.
For each position in your business, make lists of tasks that have to be done exactly based on the SOP of each task. For instance, for the receptionist position, make a task list with the exact description and SOP of each task and have the person who works in that position to checkmark the tasks that have been done and make an explanation of why any task hasn’t been done.
Tasks list makes life much easier for employees as well as for you as the leader of the business.
Employees love to know what exactly the company wants from them and what is the expectation. If they have a clear and to the point, instruction and the things that need to be done, they will do it much easier. Nothing can ruin a day more than not knowing what was your expectation.
Fearful, blaming work environment
Tasklist and SOPs remove the culture of blaming each other and the fearful environment from your business. In some businesses, when there is a problem, people keep looking to blame each other or everybody is afraid of the manager.
By having SOPs and check tasklist, there is no reason to blame anybody. If the SOPs and checklist are done correctly, it would crystal clear what is the origin of the problem and most probably how to fix. Either you need to change the SOPs or more employees training to do the task exactly based on SOP.
Defining the tasks of business is crucially important and even more important is to make sure each task is done exactly the same all the time.
An SOP is the standard instruction of doing each task, no matter who is doing the task.
Checklists can save you and your business from a whole lot of problems by making sure, everything is running based on the plan and smoothly.