As you start to put more and more systems in place for your business, you should be thinking about setting checkpoints: specific times when you’ll review each of your systems.
The reason checkpoints are important is because they give you dedicated time to make sure things are running smoothly within each of your systems.
By nature, many of your systems will be running on “auto pilot”, which means it’s easy for things to break over time without you ever knowing.
Checkpoints are also an opportunity to refine your systems – perhaps there are new tools available that weren’t available when you first created your system, or you might have a new team member who could be taking on parts or the whole of a system you’ve previously created.
Bottom line, your systems will evolve over time; they’ll become more efficient and the actual steps you take may change. But only if you set aside time for these checkpoints.
Setting checkpoints & how to review your systems
There are a couple of ways to arrive at checkpoints for your systems:
1. You set aside a specific time for it
2. Something breaks / isn’t working the way it should be
Hopefully it’s the former, and you’re proactively checking up on your systems to make sure everything is running smoothly.
But there will be times when you end up conducting a review because something is broken or isn’t working the way it should.
Let’s take a look at how you might conduct a review for your systems given each scenario.
1. Set aside specific time
A good timeframe for reviewing your systems is quarterly. I say this because it gives you enough time to get your system fully up and running, and it’s also enough time to be able to identify any inefficiencies (or, additional efficiencies).
The best way to make sure you don’t miss your review is to actually schedule it when you’re creating the system itself.
So if you were creating a checklist for when you create a new system in your business, it might include the following steps:
- Write out the steps
- Identify efficiencies
- Document the system
- Review the system in real-time (the first time the system is put to work)
- Schedule quarterly checkpoints
The best way to schedule anything is by actually putting it in your calendar. This means creating a recurring event on your calendar with the appropriate info and reminders.
Here’s an example of a recurring event I created in my Google Calendar for my system review of our Paradise Accountability Program:
Blocking off the time in your calendar is an important part of making this work. If you don’t have it scheduled, chances are you won’t stick to it.
Once you have the time scheduled and set aside for your quarterly checkpoints, the next step is to perform the actual review.
Performing the review
During the review you’re simply going to walk through the system.
If I were doing a review of the Paradise Accountability Program, then I would walk through each of the steps that make up my system.
Our Paradise Accountability Program system is documented in Sweet Process, so first, I’m going to go to the system I have in place and follow each of the 9 steps I have listed there.
This is especially important for a system like the one I have set up for the Accountability Program because 95% of this system is delegated to someone else. This means there is a greater chance that something could break or be lost in communication and I wouldn’t know about it unless I was reviewing the system.
As I go through each of the steps, I’m going to either open up a Word doc or use Workflowy to take notes on the things I’m noticing and/or verifying during my review.
Example: Podcasters’ Paradise Accountability Partner Program
1. Check shared doc daily for new entries
I’m going to actually go to the shared doc and make sure entries are populating correctly.
2. Sort new entries by time zone
I’m going to check to be sure that the entries are being sorted appropriately.
3. Determine if a match can be made
I’m going to see how matches are being made and check that they’re being made based on the criteria from the training video I created.
4. Match partners
I’m going to make sure the matches being made are smart matches. If I see matches being made that aren’t smart based on the criteria I’ve set, then I’m going to make a note in my review.
5. Move matches to ready for approval section
This is the part of the process that I am in charge of, so this is something I review every time it’s assigned back to me. I will still go in and check how this is set up and how we’re actually performing this part of the system to see if there’s a different / better way we could be doing this.
6. Once approved, send intro email
I will go to the templates we have set up for intro emails and make sure there are no updates I want to make to those templates.
7. Follow up
I will review the follow up notes in the shared doc, look for recurring themes from the feedback we’re getting when we follow up with partners, and based on that think about ways we could be improving how we match up partners.
8. Manage rematches
I will check on the current rematches and see if we could be managing them differently, or if the way we’re doing it now seems to be working well.
9. Manage un-matched
I will revisit this step and see if there ways we could tweak our criteria so that those who don’t get matched up immediately aren’t waiting so long to be matched.
Now that I’ve gone through each step and have taken notes on the things I’ve noticed, I will revisit any parts of the system I feel could use improving.
If there’s a part of the system I’m going to completely change or tweak, then because this is a system I delegate, I will set aside additional time to create updated training videos to replace the old ones.
*BONUS* Video: Updating parts of a system
Lastly, I’ll schedule time to meet with the person who is managing this system to make sure the first time it’s performed using the new system, everything is working smoothly.
2. Something breaks
When something breaks or isn’t working in one of your systems, it’s a little bit less organized than what I’ve laid out above for scheduling your checkpoints.
Being proactive with scheduling checkpoints and reviewing your systems regularly could prevent unexpected breaks in your systems, which is why I recommend the quarterly review.
But should you come up on a situation where someone emails you, reaches out with an issue they’ve noticed, or you notice something isn’t being tracked properly yourself, it’s time to review the entire system that the break stems from.
In this situation, you’d follow the same process for the review that I laid out above, only you’re going to be focusing mainly on the steps in the system that are causing the break, or that are actually broken themselves.
Once identified, it’s time to find the solution or replacement step that will fix your system so you can get it back up and running as quickly as possible.
Now that you have at least one system documented and you know how to set checkpoints in order to review your system on an ongoing basis, let’s take a look at some systems every business should have. That’s coming up in the next post here in Season 2 on Creating Systems!