Aren’t Systems and Processes the Same?

Aren’t Systems and Processes the Same?

I was speaking to a newbie the other day. I was speaking about creating systems and she asked: Aren’t systems and processes the same thing?

Well, I replied that they weren’t. But it made me think that perhaps there are others out there as confused as this lady was.

What’s the Difference?

Processes are the things you do to do something, usually in a certain sequence. Process-smFor example, brushing your teeth is a process. You take steps like:

Take the brush out.
Put toothpaste on it.
Brush your teeth for 2 solid minutes.
Rinse your mouth.
Use mouthwash.

And taking the steps in the process moves a system along efficiently.

On the other hand, a system is the overall “thing” you are trying to do. It’s something that moves your business forward.

Using the prior example, what you are trying to accomplish is to get ready in the morning. The procedural steps you took to brush your teeth are part of the get-ready-in-the-AM system.

Systems run your business

[tweetthis]In other words, your whole business is one giant system. [/tweetthis]

That giant system is actually made up of multiple smaller systems. Those smaller systems make up what you consider to be your business.

What would you answer if I asked you: “what is it you do on a daily basis? How about weekly? Or even monthly basis? What are those things you do that run your business?”

You might answer with things like:

  • Becoming known (marketing)
  • Getting new clients (client intake)
  • Getting paid (accounts receivable)
  • Etc.

You’d probably answer with 4 or 5 core things you do to run the business. Those are the things you create to help you run your business as an ongoing thing.

Those core elements might include things like:

Marketing
Sales
Client Acquisition
Content Creation
Accounts Receivable
Accounts Payable
Bookkeeping
Taxes

Processes help efficiency

Every system you have (and you have them, whether you call them that or not) requires a certain number of steps to be done for it to work. The combination of the steps taken together make up the process.

Here is another example. You have a marketing system and it is made up of smaller pieces. Those are the actions, decisions and events you take for “marketing” to actually happen for your business.

Quite possibly, the “marketing” system actually is smaller systems within a system.

If you look at your viewpoint as the lens of a camera, you can “zoom in” or “zoom out” inside a business. The perspective changes as you do. So, if you’re zooming out, you might start with your business entity itself.

Then, you zoom in. The first level of complexity are the principal systems that make it work. If you zoom in one more level, you’ll see that marketing has smaller systems within it. Those sub-systems are things like social media, advertising, partnerships, sponsorships, and so on.

Each of the smaller systems need to have a process built around it. That is, you need to decide and design the steps you take every single time you do them. That way, the system runs as efficiently as is possible.

After designing the process, including the “what-ifs,” you can find opportunities for streamlining, automating, or delegating it. Again, you’re looking for the opportunity to be as efficient as possible in getting the steps done.

[tweetthis] Systems and their associated processes are what help your business run. [/tweetthis]

When implemented properly, they save you time. And, most importantly, they help you grow and scale your business.

Your Turn

Does this post make sense to you? What is your definition of what a system is? How about a process?

Share your thoughts below, won’t you?

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