Systemise & Automate Part 3 – Protocols and Processes

Projects can typically go out of control when:

  1. More than one person is involved
  2. There are “holes” in specs and parameters for misunderstanding and confusion (i.e. specs are not precise)
  3. Project progress and delivery are not anticipated and planned out meticulously
  4. A system is not followed

Operating from standard protocols and processes can eliminate ninety-five per cent of problems like scope creep, or the chain of delivery breaking down.

There are two ways to do this:

  • Systematize
  • Automate

Combine these together, and you should have a powerful, virtually foolproof system.

To create a system, write down your goal and objectives for every project (as a general guideline applied every time, if projects are all highly similar and repetitive; or by individual projects.)

Next, take a blank sheet of paper for every position on your team.  For example, if your virtual “team” consists only of you plus your new VA, take two sheets of paper (or do this virtually, if you prefer) and write down all your responsibilities and tasks on one; and hers on another.

If you have six team members, take six sheets of paper.  And so on.

Try it – even if you think you know exactly what everyone has to do, you’ll be amazed to find yourself thinking of things to add – things you need to re-think or adjust.

Now write a “Company Manual” based on these results– even if this is only a three-page document.  Begin your Company Manual with a “mission statement”, saying what your company is all about and what it wants to do for its clientele.  (This will help your contractors understand what your business is all about, so they can better represent it.)

Your Company Manual might include documents such as these1 :

  1. Style Sheets




2. Client Questionnaires
  1. Contractor Questionnaires

6-Contractor Questionnaire


  1. General Project Instruction sheets

7-Project Instructions




  1. Contact information – including who takes care of what problem type


  1. A list of expectations and other data (e.g. rate of pay, wage increase intervals, vacation notice, etc.)
The beauty of creating your own office manual:  You can tailor it to your unique set up.  For example, you can segment your contractors by color (using different-colored paper) or by different sections in you “Master” binder, so that you instantly know that copywriters only get the pink forms plus all white ones, while web designers get the yellow and blue forms, and fulfillment staff gets all.
Have one central contact person, whenever possible.  Have her report directly to you at a specified time of day with all queries, problems or requests.  Make sure she is enabled to speak for you in all but the most crucial situations.
The more you put down in writing, the less you risk errors in judgment or oversights being made. 
This may seem pedantic and unecessary to some but this is how you create a real business that can work without you – you must leave no margin for misunderstanding. Micheal Gerber goes through this same process in the classic book “The E-Myth”.
1Choose only the ones that are relevant to your business