I mentioned a while back that I went to the Genesys G-Force conference in Miami. It was a great conference, and one of the best parts of it was the discovery of a software company called ProcedureFlow. ProcedureFlow is a web based application that allows you to easily chart out, you guessed it, procedures in a logical and easy to follow manner. It seemed quick and easy to set up so I decided to sign up for the trial. It turned out to be an excellent find.
In a growing company, or a new company, there is always going to be inconsistency in what people believe is the correct procedure for just about anything. Even when you have a manual, how many people are actually regularly referring to it? Having a way to standardize tasks online where it can be easily updated, and is not overwhelming blocks of text, makes the information much more usable. Having the text be searchable and organized well is even better.
When I first learned about it, it was in the context of call scripting, since it was at a call center conference. It was clear though that this tool could be used for nearly everything. Here is a list of areas where we have now rolled out various “flows” as those in the know call them.
- Customer Service – The most obvious application.
- Billing Procedures – This has actually resulted in a 6%(!) reduction in transfer rates in our call center overall. I’ve actually removed the billing department from Genesys entirely so they no longer take direct calls since CS agents can handle them. Their office is now literally plastered with ProcedureFlow stickers since they liberated the department from the bulk of customer calls.
- Returns & Claims – Another department that we’ve been able to reduce transfers to.
- Human Resources – Employee onboarding, offboarding, and a variety of other processes are now stored here.
- Merchandising – The entire process for adding SKUs to our website, making descriptions, determining pricing, sourcing images, publishing, and much more is documented here. This has immediately expanded the amount of people that can help on this.
- Procurement – When I had to fill in in our procurement department with little notice, I put all training notes in ProcedureFlow. It saved me for the week I was doing it myself. Everything is documented there, even our inventory hedging strategies are meticulously documented . If someone like myself can jump into something as complicated as procurement for a precious metals retailer, with hundreds of millions in revenue, with 4 days notice then you know it’s a powerful tool!
- IT – We use an outside company to manage our IT. Most repeatable processes are documented there. When we need something done we just submit a ticket to the link that shows the particular flow needed.
- Financial processes – Anything with steps is in there at this point.
Now that we have this, we use it for training new employees. We’ve ditched the handbook and throw the flow on the big screen to work through. We even train remote employees this way. These little boxes, charts, and screenshots just work better for absorbing concepts. Even creating the flows in the first place forces you to think of the process in a logical and objective manner, thereby exposing issues you can immediately address.
Think about how awesome this is! We now have a living source of information that people actually willingly open up and refer to. We can ensure we’re all on the same page across any department. We’re not as vulnerable to turnover. Training has been improved and even refreshers are easy. When I did the procurement flows I took a screenshot nearly every click. I feel confident I could jump back in tomorrow if I needed to even though it’s been 4 months since I was last involved there. Having this information is an incredible asset!
If you try this out yourself one thing you need to keep in mind is that you will need a solid plan to actually get everyone to use it. I admit I initially got excited, built out a bunch of stuff, and then just told everyone to check it out in a meeting. ProcedureFlow has a feature where you can check the last login of each user, basically nobody bothered to check it out. Didn’t everyone realize how much it would help them?! So in order to get things rolling, I scheduled meetings where we’d review the flows together as a group and answer questions as they came up. This immediately helped. We basically have to do this with every group and every procedure because only very few people will on their own time proactively look. So be prepared to put in a lot of time to show the team what is available. One final thing we needed to implement was to make it clear to everyone that they were accountable to the procedures and needed to perform them as documented. Knowing how serious we were taking this helped get everyone on board. At this time we’re still not where I want to be, but our transfer rates have stayed consistently low so it has stuck. We’re now rolling out weekly ProcedureFlow meetings to ensure everyone is compliant and up to speed. Merely entering the information though is probably less than half the battle, so be prepared.
The software interface and functionality is excellent. I’ve never seen an error or down time and it’s all drag and drop simplicity. The publishing interface is great. All the authors submit flows to me and I can then review and publish them. The system highlights the specific areas changed so I can review and approve quickly. There was only one time we had someone accidentally delete a bunch of flows, and it was user error. Before I even heard about it from the employee, their VP called me to apologize and they even sent her some swag to make up for it along with a Starbucks gift card. You don’t see a lot of software companies do that for a user error! Support has been, frankly, unreal for the very few times I’ve actually needed it. I might shoot a quick email over there and I’ll get a call within 5 minutes. It’s intuitive and reliable, so you can focus on the content as opposed to how to make it work or look good. Possibly the only software I’ve ever used that I haven’t at least broken once in some roundabout way.
So all in all I’m a total fan of ProcedureFlow. If you’re of the e-Myth mindset and want to roll out and manage systems and procedures then you need to check them out. A well executed implementation of their software will help you improve your company substantially.
*Normally I don’t put this at the end even though it’s always true, but this post is almost a little suspicious in it’s positive feedback. I wasn’t paid for this endorsement in any way, so this is just my honest opinion as a customer.