Ecommerce Excellence: 4 Reasons to Prioritise Process Over Talent

In order to be successful, a business must prioritise process.

On it’s own this statement would likely receive a resounding applause of nods from business owners here, there and everywhere. However, with the addition of just two more words, we find ourselves inciting all out emotional warfare.

In order to be successful, a business must prioritise process over talent.

Say what? Are we suggesting you rid your company of hardworking employees, in favour of hyper capable robots from the future? Terminate her? I hardly know her!

Calm down, this isn’t a Skynet takeover.

But instead of building your perfect army, we actually recommend reducing (not doing away with) reliance on human interventions. Controversial as it may sound – having crystal clear guidelines for your team is actually more important than the qualifications of those individuals themselves.

In fact, the more you lean into your performance data, the faster you’ll empower your team to act independently, regardless of the ability they bring to the table. Because facts are facts, and a solid foundation to work from.

So guess what? It’s time to throw away your crystal ball and stop asking your psychic for advice. Because a process-led business already knows precisely where it’s going and even better –the exact steps to get there.

Or you could try relying on a few of your best and brightest to hold the torch and guide you through the darkness, one fumbling step at a time. This does sound like a more interesting film plot! But in reality, wouldn’t you prefer to take destiny into your own hands, instead of banking on a hero to save you from yourself?

Process is all about making decisions based on data instead of deja vu, saving you from wasting precious time on reading the room and allowing you to just take action. So step into the light and let us take you through 4 reasons why process really is the best way to keep you, your employees and your bottom line safe and secure in the face of disaster.

  • You can hire smarter

Let us start by blowing your mind – Not every role within your organisation requires an experienced genius at the helm. Shocking we know!

But while those with key expertise are great for setting an initial direction, establishing processes that enable more junior staff to perform critical tasks will benefit your business far more in the long run. Your business is your baby, so naturally your goal is to keep it safe and grow it to its full potential. If you employed a nanny you’d provide them with a detailed guide of who, what and when to care for your child wouldn’t you? Likewise where your business is concerned, the more access to analytics and automation you have in place, the less reliant you are on the hands that rock the cradle.

Not only can you reduce your hiring risk by having defined roles with predetermined golden metrics and reactive reporting in place, but you can also improve the hiring journey itself. A process-driven company tracks everything. So use your data to spend your budget more wisely by determining which channels are bringing in the most qualified candidates. Base your practices on consistent facts, not finger in the air fantasies.

As a side effect of this highly structured environment you may also be able to reel in hungry young talent who are looking to beef up their CVs with big responsibilities. With safety nets built into your system, you can let them manage bigger projects with little fear and upskill them in the process. Because as long as they can follow instructions, they’ll do just fine. Suddenly new hires are happier with your clear cut expectations, onboarding takes little to no effort and there is plenty of talent in the sea.

  • You can reduce your reliance on key people

So what’s the deal here? Have experienced team members suddenly been rendered moot?

Not quite.

But consider what happens when your business’ tried and true lynchpin decides to jump ship for opportunities further afield? You panic of course. And why wouldn’t you? If your empire is propped up by a titan then your business is inevitably at their mercy. If they walk, everything drops and you’ll find yourself scrambling just to maintain your status quo.

The good news is that the more prescriptive you design a role to be, the more seamless it is for someone new to step into it and start to react to the pertinent information. With clear structure and reliable data, any old person can jump in and minimise potential issues or loss of revenue with lightning speed. Meanwhile you can stop pulling your hair out and watch the show go on.

In theory the purpose of recruiting star players for your team is to win the game. But true long-term strategising cannot be based around any single player. It’s the cycle of endless refinement and continuous commitment to the process that will determine your progress – no matter who’s up to bat.

With this in mind ask yourself if you need top talent to come in to help set up these good practices? Can this be outsourced to an expert? If possible, it’s worthwhile to get expert eyes on your business to figure out the parameters for what good looks like, what anomalies look like and how long things should take.

  • You can increase productivity and efficiency

Imagine how happy your employees would be if you told them that dull and draining admin was officially cancelled. They might form a spontaneous conga line or erect a statue in honour of your benevolence. Either way, this statement would be impactful and with good reason – admin is the worst.

It’s the villain we love to hate. It’s the daily force that keeps us from achieving our full potential because frankly there just aren’t enough hours in the day to implement, optimise and innovate.

Consider the hundreds to thousands of mundane tasks that need doing day in and day out. The likes of balancing optimum stock levels, monitoring of marketing campaigns and tracking down of customer’s misdirected packages amongst others.

Think of your poor operations team who start every day by reviewing deliveries and sorting out any orders that sit outside your service level agreements. Where did that package go? Why did they receive a blue shirt instead of a red one? Was their product broken during shipping or did the customer inflict a lifetime of emotional damage upon arrival? Sorting all of these queries alone eats up a huge chunk of the day, leaving your team feeling frustrated and absolutely starving for progress.

Why not help them out by setting up processes that use real data to understand, improve and simplify these interactions. A business grounded in process frees up it’s battalions to go beyond just fighting the good fight. With systems in place to monitor, review and alert your team regarding the moving parts of your business, they can clear their heads of this minutiae, gain ground and move onto more high level thinking.

  • You can scale with ease

Having a place for everything and everything in its place is a huge competitive advantage. This is how you stop dilly dallying and get down to brass tax. With no room for interpretation, your people don’t have to talk to other people to get things done – they know what’s expected and they just do it.

This newfound law and order puts you and your crew in the best possible position to scale your operations. Afterall, if you start your business in a single market with refined roles and a singular vision for everyone involved, then this is easily replicable with new people, in new markets.

Only after your house is in order should you receive guests. Which is to say that you best fix up before serving yourself on a platter to investors. First impressions matter and if your operations look messy, you may find that investors are unwilling to even sample what you’re selling. But, unfortunately founders don’t often prioritise the surfacing of detailed insights to back up their story from the start of the journey, but this becomes crucial as a business scales. Focusing on infrastructure from go will support your story by ensuring that data is being captured correctly. Then when the time comes to do your due diligence, rich historical insights can be delivered without batting an eye. Process prepares you.

If you want to look your best for a merger or acquisition, the place to start is with clean, nicely laid out operations. This makes it easy for visitors to see exactly how the union would work, with data and visibility on every aspect of the business. How is the company structured, what tasks does each person need to perform and on a more granular level which employees are the highest performers or most at risk for leaving the company?

Equally, when you’re not reliant on the talent to keep your ship afloat it’s easier for an interested investor or company to see exactly how they could come in, take control and make an instant impact.

So in a nutshell – Prioritising process over talent will benefit every team in your organisation. The more prescriptive a role is the less risk there is on you to hire people with vast knowledge and technical expertise. The safer your operations will be even when your most experienced employees leave the fold. The easier it will be for your team to react to information, spot and fix issues quickly and optimise things that are going well. The smoother your business can scale and enter new markets without a hitch. The better position you will be in to benefit from mergers, acquisitions and investment opportunities.

So remember that when it comes to your business, ignorance is only bliss if you enjoy failure. In truth, talent will come and go, but process is forever.