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If you want to increase the efficiency of your workforce, you need to follow a set of systems and procedures—a playbook. Business playbooks allow you to delegate tasks, automate processes, and scale your operations.
Unfortunately, many businesses choose to operate without a playbook. Failing to provide staff with clear instructions gives them greater room for failure.
Trent is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of Flowster. He is an expert at creating business processes that can be scaled up. Trent used to host the long-running podcast Bright Ideas, where he talked to successful founders for over a decade.
He shares the following guide to using business playbooks to help you achieve your business goals: Learn more about the benefits of a business playbook and how to put one in place.
What Are Business Playbooks (or SOPs)?
A business playbook contains all your company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs). SOPs provide step-by-step instructions for carrying out various tasks or addressing specific issues. It covers your policies, procedures, and workflows.
Employees use business playbooks to adhere to a certain way of doing things. A business playbook provides greater guidance and decreases the risk of mistakes.
The typical business playbook breaks processes down into easy-to-follow steps. It documents your processes and policies. It may also contain additional information related to your company’s structure.
For example, you could include a summary of the top executives and a profile of the company. These details can help during the onboarding process when training new employees.
Businesses typically create business playbooks electronically and share them online. When you make a business playbook online, it’s easier to share it with employees and other important people.
Why Do You Need a Business Playbook?
Using a business playbook adds structure to your organization. It helps keep everyone on the same page when completing business processes. Using a playbook eliminates uncertainty about how to complete a task.
The advantages of a business playbook include the following:
- Maintaining greater consistency
- Working more efficiently
- Encourage increased autonomy
- Easily scaling your business
Not adopting a business playbook decreases the efficiency of your company. Employees are more likely to require additional instruction and resources. Employees are also more likely to make mistakes or overlook certain issues.
Here is a closer look at some reasons to build a playbook for your company.
Consistency is Key
Business playbooks lead to greater consistency. Employees can use a playbook to better understand a process.
Employees may use a playbook to review the preferred outcome of a task. They can also review the resources needed to complete the process.
When using a playbook, two employees who do the same job follow the same set of instructions. The playbook keeps employees from deviating from a tested method for completing business processes.
Maintaining consistent processes is essential for businesses of all sizes. It becomes easier to troubleshoot issues if everyone follows the same steps.
A business playbook helps your teams work more efficiently. Your employees will need less feedback and fewer instructions from supervisors when the information they need is found in the playbook. You reduce the need for workers to seek input before moving on to other steps.
Your playbook’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) also help make the workplace run more smoothly.
Each SOP you make should show the best way to do a certain task as quickly as possible. Workers do not need to devise new ways of doing things, as they already have a method in place.
Using business playbooks encourages autonomy. It makes it easier for workers to finish tasks or solve problems on their own, with less help from their bosses.
When you give workers more freedom, they tend to work better, produce more, and have higher morale. Workers get more done faster when they do not need to continuously consult with managers or other workers. This also promotes a greater sense of accomplishment and confidence in their abilities.
Easily Scale Your Business
A business playbook is beneficial when it comes to scaling your organization. For a smaller business, it is easier to write down your processes and make a playbook than for a bigger one.
Establishing a playbook now prepares you for growth. You can revise your processes to meet the needs of your growing company.
How to Create Your Own Business Playbooks
The process of creating a business playbook also involves researching and organizing ideas and steps. You need to look over your business processes, organize the content, and share your playbook with the rest of your organization.
Review Your Business Processes
Start by reviewing the business processes that you want to include in the playbook. Create a list of all the processes that you plan to add to the playbook.
Review each procedure, workflow, and policy. Outline the steps needed to complete each task. You should also explain the expected outcome and potential variables involved. Include any resources or extra information, like links to more instructions or forms that need to be filled out.
Organize the Content
Organize your content in a way that makes sense for your organization. You may want to group processes based on certain details, such as the department involved in the task.
For example, you may have a group of processes for addressing customer service issues. You may also need processes for the human resources department, marketing department, or sales team.
You may also group procedures or policies into sections based on how they impact your organization. This may include sections for work culture, the company vision, and operational guidelines.
Distribute Your Business Playbook
You must share your business playbook if you want others to use it. Distribute the playbook throughout your organization.
Receive feedback and input from others after sharing the playbook. You should start by sending the playbook to those that are most likely to need it, such as employees that need to complete specific tasks covered in the playbook.
How to Use Business Playbooks Effectively
Developing a business playbook is only half the battle. You still need to get others to use it effectively. Here are the steps involved:
- Encourage employees to use it.
- Make the playbook accessible.
- Make your playbook scalable and adaptable.
You should also continually look for ways to improve processes. Accept feedback from staff and those who have experience completing the tasks that you want to improve.
Encourage Your Employees to Use It
A business playbook quickly becomes useless if you cannot get others to use it. Make a habit of requiring employees to refer to the playbook.
For example, a supervisor may mention the need to use the playbook when completing a task or remind staff that the answers to many questions related to their job duties are found in the playbook.
Integrate It With Onboarding
Integrating your playbook with the onboarding process is a great way to get employees to refer to their SOPs more frequently. You can use the playbook as part of your onboarding process to make sure that each new employee knows what their role is and what their responsibilities are.
The onboarding process may require employees to review specific policies to better understand how your organization works. All the information that they need should be found in the business playbook.
Make It Engaging and Interactive
Making the business playbook engaging and interactive increases compliance. Employees may skip steps or use the SOP as a rough guideline rather than a set of clear instructions. This makes the playbook less useful and causes more mistakes and less work to get done.
You can make a playbook more engaging by presenting the information more interactively. This could mean using workflows and visual charts to show the steps in a process more clearly.
Make It Accessible
You need to make the playbook accessible if you expect others to follow it. Employees should have access to the business playbook at all times.
Companies have traditionally distributed standard operating procedures and business playbooks using paper copies. New employees were often given an employee manual. However, thanks to modern technology, you can store and share business playbooks online.
Using an internal website, project management software, or productivity tools, you can share playbooks electronically. This makes your policies and procedures easier to find and makes it simple to add changes.
Make It Scalable and Adaptable
Make your playbook flexible and scalable so that you can keep your business running smoothly as it grows. Continue to update the playbook as necessary.
Adding your favorite tools and software to the playbook can also make it more flexible. Users do not need to learn how to use a new platform to make changes to the SOP.
A business playbook tells your employees how to do their regular jobs or deal with certain situations. You can outline the steps needed to follow company policies or carry out certain tasks.
In the past, companies released business playbooks on paper. You would typically receive an employee manual after starting a new job. Modern technology allows businesses to share the same information electronically.
Now you can make detailed business playbooks with a wide range of policies and procedures.
If you want to start creating your own business playbooks or if you have questions about using them, check out Flowster. Flowster has customizable pre-built templates available, or get in touch with their team to use their “Done For You” service to have unique playbooks created from scratch.