Map Out Your System Requirements First

Where do you start?

I speak to a lot of business owners who want to start creating systems and processes in their business, and add automation into the mix.

Most of the conversations revolve around one or all of the following questions:

  • Where do I start?
  • What tools should I use?
  • Which processes should I focus on?

To cover all of these and more, I’d give you two answers:

  1. Don’t get stuck on the tools
  2. Make little bets

Don’t get stuck on the tools

The knee-jerk reaction for most business owners is to look at different software platforms and tools before they start working on the processes in their businesses.

This is a bad idea, for a couple of reasons.

First, by what criteria are you choosing the new software or tool? How can you judge if it will perform as you need it to?

Without knowing in detail, the types of automation and processes your business needs, you’ll be selecting the tools which are the latest shiny objects, rather than the best tool for the job.

Additionally, you won’t know how to use the new software yet, so will be limited by what you can do.

The same goes for the software you already have in your business. Even if you know your existing software really well, you’ll limit your thinking and creativity by what you know and are able to do with that software today. This may not be the best for your business.

Start with coloured pens and lots of whiteboard space.

Your brain has evolved to think and write/draw since the first caveman drew on a cave wall. Evolution has not had much time to do the same work in relation to software.

If you attempt to plan and design the processes in your business inside software, you are taxing your brain and limiting your ideas and results. This is true even for software designed for drawing out workflows and processes. Just draw on the wall!

Once you have it mapped out on the white board (much easier to do with your team, instead of everyone trying to look at the same computer screen), you can then choose the tool(s) to make that planning a reality – without your own limited understanding of one platform coming into play.

Make little bets

Don’t start with open heart surgery.

When my wife was training as a doctor, they used to practice stitching and inserting cannulas on pigs trotters. (I also have memories of her practicing on me, in our kitchen, but maybe that is the same thing.)

They don’t start you off at med school with open heart surgery, for very good reasons:

  1. The student won’t be very confident or able
  2. The patient is unlikely to survive

It is the same with you and your business.

By starting with small, simple processes, you’ll build up some ability and confidence. You’ll also see what is possible and what is required, before jumping into the bigger, more complex systems and automation.

By building up your systems and automation in this way, you also stand a much better chance of success, as you won’t be changing everything at once.

A lot of business owners never start creating systems and automation in their businesses, simply because they fear what seems like a daunting task.

However, as with most complex and seemingly difficult projects, they are made up out of smaller tasks and elements, easy to manage and succeed at.

So, spend 30 minutes looking at your business and identify just 5 simple, repetitive tasks that happen every day in your business, and start there.

Map it on the wall and make those little bets.


Author: Pieter De Villiers

Pieter K de Villiers is slightly obsessed with systems. The systems and process automation he builds for small businesses are transformative, to say the least. Pieter is a Co-Founder of Blue Peg Group and the Amazon best-selling author of “Barefoot Business: 3 key systems to attract more leads, win more sales and delight more customers without your business killing you”.



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