There are a few buzzwords that often play a significant role in how contractors and contracting business owners manage their time and projects, and the theme of standardization is a common one. The more a given contracting business can standardize certain processes and needs across the board, the easier many areas of operations will be — including those projects that require you to step outside the normal boundaries.
At QuickED, we’re proud to assist contracting business owners who are just getting started with themes like contractor license renewal, continuing education and many others. What are some standardization themes you should consider as you’re getting your business off the ground? Here are a few concepts to keep in mind.
Keep Process Documentation
As you’re working on standardizing processes for your contracting business, one of the first places to start is with documentation. When you have a central repository for your process documentation, it will be much easier to ensure that everyone in your organization is following the same procedures. This is doubly true if you have remote employees or contractors working on different aspects of a project.
Without the right documentation, a haphazard or uncoordinated approach to process management can quickly lead to big problems down the road. Documentation will also come in handy if you ever need to refer back to a particular process or procedure — for example, if there’s a discrepancy between what was supposed to happen and what actually happened.
There are plenty of software options available to help with process documentation, and you should choose the one that makes the most sense for your business. If you have a small team, a simple shared Google Doc might suffice. If your company grows down the line, something like Jira can be a better fit.
Set Your Standards — And Stick to Them
The other major piece of the standardization puzzle is setting standards for your processes in the first place. Once you’ve documented how a particular process should work, it’s important to make sure that everyone in your organization is adhering to those standards. This can be easier said than done, but it’s crucial if you want to maintain a high level of quality control in your business.
One way to enforce process standards is to create a system of checks and balances — even if these are just for yourself, in cases where you’re a singular contractor. There are a few different ways to do this, but one option is to set up a regular review process where you check in on completed projects and make sure that they were carried out according to your standards. If not, you can take steps to address the issue and prevent it from happening again in the future.
And as you work toward hiring employees and building your staff, look for people who share your commitment to process standards. This will make it much easier to ensure that everyone is on the same page from day one.
Keep References Available
What good is standardization of your entire set of processes if you can’t refer back to them when you need to? Make sure that your process documentation is always readily available, whether that means keeping it in a shared drive or using a cloud-based solution.
This will come in handy if you need to refer back to a particular process while you’re working on a project. It can also be helpful if you have to train new employees or contractors on your process standards. By keeping everything in one place, you can make sure that everyone is always on the same page.
Don’t Be Afraid to Iterate
It’s important to remember that standardization is an ongoing process — not something that you can set and forget. As your business grows and changes, your processes will need to evolve as well.
Don’t be afraid to revisit your process documentation on a regular basis and make changes as needed. This will help to ensure that your processes are always up to date and relevant to your current needs. And if you find that a particular process isn’t working as well as it should, don’t be afraid to scrap it and start from scratch.
Utilize Calendars and Reminders
Another set of tools that can be very useful in standardizing your processes is a calendar and reminders. By keeping track of deadlines and milestones in one central place, you can make sure that everyone in your organization is always on the same page — again, even if that’s just you!
You should also use periodic reminders to ensure you don’t forget about updating your process standardization, like we went over above. With so many other demands on your time, it can be easy to let this fall by the wayside. But if you make it a habit to review and update your process standards on a regular basis, you can be sure that your business will always be operating at peak efficiency.
Debrief After Project Completion
Again, even if you’re in the early stages of starting your business and are the only current employee, you can and should absolutely debrief after each project. This will help you to identify any areas where your processes could be improved and make the necessary changes.
It can also be helpful to solicit feedback from clients after each project. They may have suggestions on how you could improve things for future projects. And even if they don’t, the act of debriefing will show them that you’re always looking for ways to improve and that you’re committed to providing the best possible service.
The bottom line is that process standardization is a crucial part of any successful contracting business. By taking the time to document and review your processes on a regular basis, you can be sure that your business is always operating at peak efficiency.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our contractor license or continuing education services, speak to our staff at QuickED today.