A business system can be described as an identifiable process of tasks or actions that are completed in order to perform a specific function with your business. The tasks or actions are typically described in sequential order. However, non-sequential tasks can also be identified and documented as part of your process. A business is comprised of many business systems. Each system typically relates to a specific function that is critical to supporting the mission and objectives of the business.
There exists an important need to understand the systems that make up a particular business. From entrepreneurs to small businesses to large corporations, the identification and documenting of business systems establishes an important platform from which many improvement activities can take place. Most large companies subscribe to this theory at least in part. Often times companies will identify their business systems or processes but may or may not formally document or utilize them as part of internal improvement initiatives. On the other hand, small companies or individual entrepreneurs very rarely spend the time to even document their business processes.
Why is it important to document your systems?
Business system mapping is important to all companies no matter the size or revenue level. Simply put, the advantages of documenting your business systems far outweigh the time expenditure required to do so. Most business owners who commit the time toward documenting their business processes realize as many significant benefits during the process as they do in the follow-up analysis that can be achieved from having a documented process. In other words, simply taking the time to think and identify your business system processes provides tremendous value and benefits.
So why do most small companies fail to properly document and analyze their business system processes?
Most failures can be classified into two classifications. The first classification includes those that fail to get started. The second classification involves business owners who start but fail to document their systems. The majority of small business owners and entrepreneurs fall into the first classification. Most do not get started because they simply do not understand the importance of such a task. And those that may understand or have the intention to do so often never do because of the tremendous workload that comes with managing and growing a business.
Other business owners understand the importance of mapping their business processes and make the activity a priority. Some will complete the task; however, far too many will fail to finish and realize the benefits. Why? The act of documenting your business systems (i.e. process mapping) is NOT easy for the majority of people. It is not that the task is difficult but that it requires a specific, systems-thinking mindset (and knowing a few tricks will help, too). The truth is that the more you practice process mapping, the easier and quicker it becomes or you will decide to solicit the guidance of an experienced process expert.
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* Up until now we have been talking primarily about the internal workings of systems, but in this section we will start to present models for understanding systems within the context of the broader environment within which they must operate and interact with other systems.
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Systems Theory: 6 Boundary & Environment