Categories
Business Process Management Business Systematization

Why Your Remote Team Will Fall Apart Without Processes

There’s a psychological theory developed back in 1895 that still holds true today that can help explain why remote teams fall apart if they’re mismanaged. It’s called deindividuation, and states that when groups of people can’t be identified in a group, they’re more likely to misbehave, e.g. cause violence, riot.

To put it in the words of Gustave Le Bon, the psychologist who first theorized this, “a loss of personal responsibility in crowds leads to an inclination to behave primitively and hedonistically”.

Bear with me…

This might sound like a long shot, but it holds true for remote teams, too.

In an office, everyone is held physically accountable for the work they do. They’re a tangible employee in a building, being actually overseen by other people. In a remote team, everyone’s just an icon on Slack, an email address, or a source of app notifications. If team members feel like they can get away with not communicating, not keeping their team updated, and not getting work done, they’re much more likely to.

And that’s why remote teams are fragile. This is a shame for businesses who can’t manage them because 77% of remote workers are more productive than their office counterparts, and get more done in less time.

In this article, I’ll look at the problems that come along with having a remote team, and go through some methods for solving them.

Problem #1: No accountability without remote team processes

In an office you keep your team updated naturally by chatting how work’s going on the way to lunch, or just mentioning your progress while you have a coffee break. However, many remote workers report feeling isolated, which is part of what creates a lack of accountability, causing teams to go silent and work to start slipping.

How do you solve a lack of accountability?

At Process Street, our remote marketing team has several channels of communication and policies that mean we always keep in the loop:

  • A group Slack channel
  • Trello card comments
  • Two short meetings every Tuesday and Thursday

It’s enforced that all work-related conversations amongst the marketing team must go into the group chat, creating an activity log of work and information. Any task being discussed must be presented alongside a link to its Trello card, and it’s expected that all Trello cards will be commented on whenever progress has been made.

During the meetings, we present our Trello cards to each other for review as proof of work (plus an activity log recorded in Trello/Slack), and go through the tasks together.

This approach leaves absolutely no room for a lack of accountability. If team members aren’t working on their tasks, it’s totally obvious because there will be no record of it.

Problem #2: No centralization of information without remote team workflows

With your whole team collaborating over the internet (without opportunities just to look over their co-worker’s shoulder) it can be a pain to share information if it isn’t centralized. It’s an obvious problem for businesses since some of the biggest software companies — Dropbox, Box and other document management systems — were created purely to solve it.

How do you centralize information?

One of the main ways to do it is to make sure you’re working entirely on the cloud. We’ve written about all of the SaaS (software-as-a-service) products we use together before, and it made me realize how stuck we’d be without live collaboration and the ability to store information in the best, most easily accessible places.

As I said in the solution to problem #1, everything can dumped into a Trello card. Trello cards can hold links, attachments, images, and even spreadsheets, so there’s no excuse for not centralizing information when it’s that easy. For documents, we use Quip and Google Sheets, ensuring we can always access what we need, no matter where we are.

Get information centralized by enforcing all work-in-progress task material to be uploaded to Google Drive or Dropbox, or dropped into a project management app like Trello or Asana.

Problem #3: No teambuilding without remote planning

Building camaraderie through direct messages is easier than before thanks to the prevalence of emojis, gifs, and other just-for-fun things, but it’s nowhere near as easy as when you’re face-to-face.

You might get invited to a get-together after work if you’re in an office, but that’s not the kind of thing that’ll happen in a remote team, and neither will natural team-building.

This could mean that team members are shy, uncommunicative, or less productive because they feel isolated.

How do you improve remote team building?

The ways that have worked in our remote team have been have:

  • gaming tournaments (playing the card game Hearthstone against each other to win a prize)
  • sharing videos, movies, and music (we will share weekly recommendations, such as guilty pleasure movies, music to help focus)
  • having a general chat channel (a work-unrelated channel for water-cooler style conversation)

If those options don’t suit, you can also try this list of team building activities for remote teams.

The long-term solution: Agile process management

All three problems explained in this article are caused by a lack of communication, policy, and process.

As Atul Gawande explains in The Checklist Manifesto, key aspects of how we get work done can be overlooked without a process, and policy to enforce it.

When we look closely, we recognize the same balls being dropped over and over, even by those of great ability and determination. We know the patterns. We see the costs. It’s time to try something else.” — Atul Gawande

Remote teams are susceptible to disconnection, deviance from process, and an attitude of unaccountability.

As Gawande says, and as we’ve found in our time building process software, the solution is strict regulations and processes that enforce the centralization of information, encourage communication in open channels, and actively build culture.

It doesn’t sound as appealing as letting a strong team grow organically, but it’s a lot more likely to work.

Resources to help you get started: Your remote team processes!

Below are some public Process Street templates and then a whole load of really useful blog posts they’ve published too, to help you get started and systemize your remote business!

Process Street remote team processes

Remote team blog posts about remote work processes

I think this is a pretty complete round up! If you have any other recommendations or resources, leave them in the comments below!

Categories
Business Business Systematization Featured

How we Rebranded our Company in 3 Months

rebranded psd

This post was written by Benjamin Brandall and originally appeared on the Process Street blog and is the story of how Cameron and I rebranded our startup Process Street.

In the lifecycle of every startup, there comes a tipping point.

For companies focused on aesthetics and creating something beautiful, there’s a time where the founders need to shift towards their product — look inward and think deeply about the problems it solves, who’s it for and how to refine user experience.

For product-focused startups like Process Street, a necessary early shift is towards design.

Categories
Business Business Process Management Business Systematization Sales and Marketing Standard Operating Procedures Technology

How to Integrate @Intercom Support Messages with Close.io #CRM

close and intercom sync

I have been wanting to sync my support system Intercom with the CRM we use at Process StreetClose.io (which I have written about before).

The reason for this is when we are looking at a customer in the CRM we want to be able to see not only the sales emails but all the support conversations they were having too.

This can be done quite easily with other Help Desk Tools or via the API but I wanted to build something quickly that didn’t require developer time.

I first setup a Zap using Intercom’s “New Message” Zap that triggered an email to my inbox which then Synced using Close’s 2 way email sync, which worked fine but only worked for the first message that was sent, it didn’t track the whole conversation which can last for days and contain lots of valuable information for sales. This basically meant sales still had to open both Intercom and Close.io to get a full picture of the customer.

Integrating All Intercom Support Tickets with Close

Step 1: Create a Webhook Zap in Zapier and get Custom Webhook URL

Create a new Zap in Zapier and add the Webhook integration, click next until you see the custom URL

intercom and close integration

Step 2: Create a Webhook in Intercom

Go to Settings -> Integrations and click “Add Webhook Integration”

create intercom webhook

Here are the topics I am passing in the Webhook:

New Message from a User
Reply from a User
Reply from a Teammate
Note added to Conversation
Conversation assigned to Teammate
User Unsubscribed From Email
User tagged
User untagged
New events

Step 3: Configure rest of Zap in Zapier

Here is a screenshot of my Zap click for full image.

intercom and close sync zap

Here is the text export (I assume you need to swap out my ID numbers):

Subject:

Body:

And that’s it! This was just my first attempt, it will probably get cleaned up a little but at least the core data is being passed. If you have any tweaks’ I’d love to hear them.

Categories
Business Process Management Business Systematization Document Management

Document Workflow Tool

Every accounting services company offers unique professional services. Whether a business organization operates based on its current document management capabilities or choosing a different approach on document managements such as utilizing added services to handle such tasks is not any more the exception rather it is the norm. Inter-operability is the term used to describe different functions collectively joined together to operate as one functional unit.

The extent to which these products and upgraded services inter-operates has a great impact on workflows and efficiency that generates a great deal of interest among business firms. CCH and Thomson are an example of an accounting services company using upgraded products along with its current tax computer software. In addition, these companies continue to implement different capabilities such as applications for file management, time management, billings and payroll services.

The transition from operating with just one exclusive merchandise to multiple merchandise operations is a subject that could produce much interest among industry insiders. Doug Sleeter speaks about the significance of the business transition as companies are adding new business applications based on selecting the best alternative to generate improvements on functionalities and procedural matters, and about how business advisers should have commanding mastery over how these systems connect to each other on different application platforms.

Mike Sabbatis, a thirty-year old doctor and accounting technology veteran heads a delegation on a 2013 white paper round-table discussion on the issue of inter-operability. Mr. Sabbatis is joined by Randy Johnston, who discusses the advantages of joining systems together, facilitating the transition of essential information to any accounting services firm under its applications network. Gail Perry (CPA, CITP, CGMA) talks about effective document management systems and his views are supported by Darren Root (CPA), who categorically affirms how essential inter-operability is when companies employ upgraded alternatives, and the operational bond that binds all other computer software systems together.

This transition towards upgrading alternatives is intensified by accountants’ desires to make it more effective in terms of collection of powerful alternatives for their unique work environment. Inter-operability, in effect, is about providing deep functionality and procedural integration across a wide-ranging network of products, customized solutions, and system improvements.

Consider the effectiveness of upgraded alternatives on inter-operability to make sure that business organization are making the most cost-effective choices.

“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8PcAKJK4FY”>follow this link.

You may also be curious about this — http://www.ironmountain.com/Services/Document-Imaging-and-Management/Document-Management/Document-Management-Workflow-Consulting.aspx

Categories
Business Process Management Business Systematization

Saas Business Process Management | BPM | Cloud Software

A company with multiple operating departments should optimize and automate a number of business processes in order to maintain its competitive edge as well as improve productivity/efficiency in its business operations.

Business Process Defined

A business process is a series of detailed measurable activities performed by individuals under an established operational system designed to attain a predetermined outcome.

The procedures have these important characteristics:

The procedures have internal and external users.

They occur across or between the organization’s departments vis-a-vis different organizations.

They may be based on how work is performed in the business.

The business processes have three key components -Entity, Things, and Tasks.

Entity refers to how the procedure is followed.
Things refer to the fact that procedures are designed in response to how actual or informational items are managed.
Tasks refer to completed work or outcomes to deal with the things or the procedural workflow.

The following are types of business processes:

a) Mortgage Process
b) Credit Verification
c) Product Development
d) Business Trip Preparations
e) New Accounts Process
f) Quotations
g) Product Shipments

Companies are working to improve their business processes using the latest computer technological application. In light of this development, across-the-board execution of business-process management should be established.

Automating business process management comprises of a series of steps:
The first step is enterprise resource planning. It involves the review of areas where automation has already been installed. Operating areas such as logistics, accounting, procurement and manufacturing should be looked into under the automation project. If these areas are already automated, then we go to the next step.
The second step in the automation process is in the area of marketing or customer relationship management and revenue-generation process. The third step is in the area of supplier relationship administration or the procurement process.
Business organizations are adopting BPM in these areas where it might make a difference. Majority of these procedures involve internal departments of the organization while a few of them are the results of real-time interactions between the business organization and its external partners such as its service providers, customer base and other investors.

Interest in business process management(BPM) is expanding rapidly, as shown by a study from Forrester Study in which one third of organizations surveyed by the business are using or piloting BPM, a dramatic increase compared with mid-2002, when just 11% were attempting BPM.

Business Process Management (BPM) automates and streamlines the business processes which are vital for the organization in order to improve business efficiency. From the business process of hiring an individual to processing a purchase order, BPM aids the restructuring,controlling and handling of workflows involving employees and functional systems in order to produce a much better operating procedure for each business area.

In order for business process management (BPM) to become an effective tool, attention should be given on the outcomes of the actual business process and the designed workflows . It is capable of mapping out the interactions among the procedural workflows under which entities, things, tasks operate. Company rules utilized in the business process also should be defined. As a result of automating a business process, one could easily streamline procedures and thus control its impact on the various business processes.

Cloud BPM

You may also want to consider this — http://www.bpminstitute.org/

Categories
Business Systematization

Business Systematization

I have always loved systems. They are marvoulsy complex. Our world runs on them, in both the natural and man made world. Weather and evolution are systems just as cities, governments and organizations are.

Below is the Wikipedia extract for “System”

system is a set of interacting or interdependent components forming an integrated whole or a set of elements (often called ‘components’ ) and relationships which are different from relationships of the set or its elements to other elements or sets.[citation needed]

Fields that study the general properties of systems include systems sciencesystems theorysystems engineeringcyberneticsdynamical systemsthermodynamics, and complex systems. They investigate the abstract properties of systems’ matter and organization, looking for concepts and principles that are independent of domain, substance, type, or temporal scale.

Some systems share common characteristics, including:

  • A system has structure, it contains parts (or components) that are directly or indirectly related to each other;
  • A system has behavior, it contains processes that transform inputs into outputs (material, energy or data);
  • A system has interconnectivity: the parts and processes are connected by structural and/or behavioral relationships.
  • A system’s structure and behavior may be decomposed via subsystems and sub-processes to elementary parts and process steps.

The term system may also refer to a set of rules that governs structure and/or behavior. Alternatively, and usually in the context of complex social systems, the term institution is used to describe the set of rules that govern structure and/or behavior.

Business Systemization is the art of applying systems to your business. I wrote a post on it a the incontext multimedia blog. Go check it out 🙂

I also made a video on Business Systemization using or product Process Street.