How Liston Newton Advisory streamlined its procedures and policies with SweetProcess to tame organization chaos.
Last Updated on September 9, 2019 by Owen McGab Enaohwo
Liston Newton Advisory is a B2B financial service and accounting practice helping business owners grow and scale their companies by educating and advising them – backend accounting, payroll, taxes, and so on.
They have 30 employees with six offices across Australia, the Philippines, and India. Their next goal is to expand into all major cities in Australia, including Sydney and Brisbane.
Highlights of Results Liston Newton Advisory got from using SweetProcess:
- Streamlined and organized their procedures and policies to make them easily searchable and tame the chaos of documents getting passed around the office
- Faster onboarding for new team members to get them up and running quickly
- Created oversight for their company in terms of procedures created, employee KPIs and tasks assigned
Listen to the audio interview:
The Chaos of Trying to Keep Procedures Up-to-Date and Getting Employees to Use Them
The Advisory strongly believes the only way to scale is by standardizing their services. No matter who walks in the door, they want to ensure everyone gets the same treatment. But they were encountering significant challenges in this regard.
John Liston is the Director/Advisor of Liston Newton Advisory. He’s responsible for ensuring his team is following processes as they’ve been designed.
Liston says they knew they needed to bring on new staff as they grew, and they wanted them to be up and running quickly. This was proving challenging as Microsoft Word documents and standard procedure templates were being passed around the office. Going back in and changing procedures was cumbersome and it was also difficult to create a source of truth in terms of which procedures were most up-to-date. This would only get worse as the company expanded.
Liston tried implementing several strategies to solve this pain point. He tried creating a version history of procedures (e.g. How to Onboard a Client v 3.12) and by keeping track of the date it was last updated. He tried designating a leader for procedures so they could be the constant source of truth. He also tried to better organize procedures within their company file structures.
As he explains:
“We still found that people weren’t necessarily following the procedures on how to write a procedure and were using different formats. Dragging in images and videos also tended to break the documents.”
Liston says they squandered tens of thousands of dollars in an attempt to solve this problem. In a typical workday, his team members would often be reduced to wandering around the office to ask how to do a certain task or even find a procedure.
Liston explained that having a single source of truth is essential to the company’s growth plans. He didn’t want the company to end up in a situation where different people in different offices were doing things in different ways.
According to him, “That’s the quickest way to fall over and it’s the biggest inhibitor of growth.”
He initially found SweetProcess through a Google search and by reading a few blog posts. He also saw that it was mentioned in a “5 Ways to Write a Process” post.
There was some upfront skepticism in the sense that he knew learning a new application would take time and adopting a new tool would mean changing how they thought about procedures. He was also concerned that once they started using a new tool, they would need to continue using it over the long haul and that depended on its viability. The fact that SweetProcess allows you to download all your data reassured him.
Further, he found that SweetProcess was simple to use, making adoption fast and easy. It didn’t take long to show his team members how to use it, and he was pleased to discover it streamlined the training process considerably, even as procedures changed.
Once Liston confirmed the viability of SweetProcess for his company, Liston Newton Advisory’s four directors received a proposal. Liston says a quick demonstration and explanation of the platform made the decision easy, as the savings in both time and money were obvious from the start.
From Chinese Whispers to Impeccable Oversight
Today, Liston Newton Advisory uses the tag function within SweetProcess to easily search procedures by tag. They’ve also broken everything down into three categories – accounting, wealth, and administration for findability.
Liston notes that they also find SweetProcess valuable for setting up company policies. The company has internal policies for annual leave, dress code, reimbursement for additional study, and so on. Previously, these policies were only explained when a team member was onboarded and never again. Now they use SweetProcess to store policies that employees can call up at any time.
The company’s use of SweetProcess has also sped up the employee onboarding process considerably. All they need to do now is log in to SweetProcess and give new hires a demonstration. Liston also likes that SweetProcess integrates nicely with video, giving him the ability to use the right medium to explain procedures every single time.
With the implementation of SweetProcess, Liston is now able to get a full oversight of what’s happening with processes and procedures within the company whether it’s assigning tasks, the state of procedures, or KPIs that need to be hit by certain team members.
Liston doesn’t have to chase anyone down or send them a procedure anymore. He can see exactly how many procedures have been written, ensure that everything has been done correctly, and see how the admin team is doing things in case he feels anything can be done better.
“From an owner’s perspective, it’s important for you to get oversight into whether your teams are carrying out tasks as designed. It can easily end up being like Chinese whispers – telling someone to do one thing one way only to find it’s being done differently six months later. Having oversight allows me to course-correct as needed.”
He added, “Our protocol now is, ‘Have you checked SweetProcess?’ And, if something isn’t in there, it’s the responsibility of whoever just solved that problem to write up a procedure.”
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