What is the difference between Processes and Systems?

I’ve conducted presentations and workshops where I’ve addressed solo and small service-based business owners on knowing and understanding what the difference between processes and systems are in their business operations.

The reason I raise this – apart from it being a focus of what I do – but I often hear from other business owners as to:

“What’s the difference between processes and systems?”

Once I explain, in simple terms, what the difference is, I then hear something like this:

“I hear about systems and processes but I don’t know what it is because they don’t explain it properly. Why couldn’t they explain it like that?”.

I don’t know. I don’t know why things have to be complicated when they don’t have to be!

So, do you know the difference between processes and systems in business?

Basically:

Processes are step by step actions of how you do things (the tasks) in your business – getting from A to Z – the systems are the tools (the programs) you use to manage those processes.

It’s that simple, well to me it is – and I hadn’t realised how easily simple it is to other business owners, like yourself, until I started educating them on it.

My mission is to change the perception that it is too hard to differentiate what needs to be done and how to make it easier and simpler so it isn’t a daunting and overwhelming feeling but actually a relief.

There are so many business owners who are chasing their tails or wasting time they don’t need to because there is no real structure in their business. Are you one of those people?

If you are one of those people – just know that there are options and solutions available to you to help you manage the A-Z of your business operations with ease and without the headaches, even if you aren’t tech-savvy 🙂

This clear distinction between processes and systems is necessary for business operations to work effectively.

I’m going to give you some examples of the differences so you can fully understand them. Note: there are automation elements that can definitely be incorporated in the below examples to save (manual) time and costs, which is for another article but you may like to check this post out in the meantime.

Examples of Business Processes

There are so many different processes for so many different reasons so I’m going to provide an overview here for elements so you can get started with thinking of your own specific processes.

Lead Generation: the process you may take to gather and respond to a new enquiry is for example: a new user completes your website form online > details are captured in (nominated) program/system > you receive an email with all the details of the form that was submitted > you (or a delegated team member) responses to the enquiry > (are details captured in a CRM or notes made anywhere, like a new lead record created in your systems to attribute linkage of all correspondence?).

Client Onboarding: the process you may take to gather and create a new client is for example: either using a process to promote a lead enquiry to a client or create a new client from a different source and then proceed to do the following: select, create and send proposal > receive sign-off > send a contract with terms and conditions > receive sign-off > send an invoice to get started > receive payment > get started

Employee Onboarding: the process you may take to onboard a new team member: obtain resumes > review resumes > (you or a team member) respond and set-up interviews > attend interviews > consider candidates > decide on candidate > present offer > receive acceptance > set-up employee in system > prepare forms for completion in preparation of start (tax, super, bank details etc.) > prepare material in preparation of start date (workplace introductions, workplace safety briefing, ‘get to know the company’ briefing, access to systems to do tasks/job, provide access to SOP for step-by-step on how to do tasks)

Social Media Marketing: the process you may take to create social media designs and promote for marketing purposes: create social media marketing plan > create graphics > download graphics > create content > upload graphics and content > schedule posts

Obviously, there are so many other areas of business that requires processes to be detailed, e.g. finance, email marketing, program management and any other areas like order fulfilment etc., but the above just gives a real sense of processes.

Examples of Business Systems

Using the above processes, I outline some possible program/system solutions to help manage those processes (noting that each business is different and will have different needs) and get you thinking about how you may be able to set up better systems to handle your processes in a much easier way. There are soooo many programs available to get the processes done, so don’t feel daunted.

Lead Generation: the systems you may use for the process: WordPress: a new user completes your website form online > Dubsado: details are captured in (nominated) program/system > you receive an (automated) email with all the details of the form that was submitted > Outlook (using Office365) or via Dubsado directly: you (or a delegated team member) responses to the enquiry.

Client Onboarding: the systems you may use for the process: Dubsado: either using a process to promote a lead enquiry to a client or create a new client from a different source and then proceed to do the following: select, create and send proposal > receive sign-off > Dubsado automatically: send a contract with terms and conditions > receive sign-off > Dubsado automatically: send an invoice to get started > receive payment > get started

Employee Onboarding: the systems you may use for the process: Seek: obtain resumes > review resumes > Seek or Outlook (using Office365): (you or a team member) respond and set-up interviews > attend interviews > consider candidates > decide on candidate > present offer > receive acceptance > System depends on your specific needs: set-up employee in system > prepare forms for completion in preparation of start (tax, super, bank details etc.) > Trainual or own document using my SOP: prepare material in preparation of start date (workplace introductions, workplace safety briefing, ‘get to know the company’ briefing, access to systems to do tasks/job, provide access to SOP for step-by-step on how to do tasks)

Social Media Marketing: the systems you may use for the process: create social media marketing plan > Canva: create graphics > download graphics > create content > Facebook Business Suite: upload graphics and content > schedule posts

If you have decided that this is a sign and you are ready to manage your business process and system operations with ease, I invite you to either contact me, grab a copy of my Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to help you map out your own processes; or book a consultation session with me to get started.

Natalie Campbell