How to Scale Using Processes with Kristine Esparza

Description:

What are processes, and how can you use them to scale your business? These are questions I asked Kristine Esparza who is CEO, Founder of iAlign Solutions, LLC.

Kristine is an experienced strategic advisor with expertise in process improvement, sales and operations alignment and transformational operational efficiency development.


What you will learn in this episode:

  • Where you can use processes.
  • What to take into account when starting an online business.
  • How a lack of proper processes influences teamwork.
  • How small business owners and solopreneurs can benefit from processes.
  • How to do more with little to no increase in cost.


About Kristine Esparza:

Kristine Esparza – CEO, Founder of iAlign Solutions, LLC – is an experienced strategic advisor with expertise in process improvement, sales and operations alignment and transformational operational efficiency development.

Kristine is an avid researcher and visionary, passionate about making a difference in organizational performance and execution.

Connect with Kristine:


Special offer:

A 30 minute strategy session to talk about process improvement, brainstorm ideas on how to improve your processes.


Transcript:

TP: Hello, today we are speaking about processes and my guest today is Kristine Esparza.
Kristine Esparza – CEO, Founder of iAlign Solutions, LLC – is an experienced strategic advisor with expertise in process improvement, sales and operations alignment and transformational operational efficiency development.
Kristine is an avid researcher and visionary, passionate about making a difference in organizational performance and execution.
Welcome, Christine, to the podcast.

KE: Thank you, Tuuli. I'm so happy to be here.

TP: Lovely. You're speaking about processes. It's such a huge subject for every intrapreneur. So can you describe your road to your present work where you improve processes?

KE: Sure, absolutely, totally. So since I can remember, I've always looked for ways to be efficient and improve processes. So as a young girl, I used to help my dad a lot around the house painting or fixing things, did maintenance on the cars. And as I was doing these things over and over, I became really good at predicting what he needed. Next, what was the next tool, what was the next step, whatever it was, I came better at it.
And so when I started as a project manager years ago, it was really the perfect way for me to hone in on these innate skills, and create my own systems that helped me manage my projects and be more efficient at delivering what I was delivering for the customer. And then over the years, as I grew in my career and my responsibilities, I really started to expand those skills and apply them cross functionally to make improvements and develop scalable systems and processes that went across multiple teams, and departments for companies.
So even to this day, I organise my groceries at the store on the scanning belt in a way that's very efficient, the dry items and frozen, I put them all the way that I think the person that's helping back them is going to be quicker at getting that done. So I would say it's just very natural for me to look at something and visualise a more efficient way of doing it.

TP: So you are doing even groceries!

KE: Yes.

TP: My respect!
My question for you what is process? Maybe our listeners don't get it and would like to get more information about that.

KE: So a process is something that gets you from point A to point B, what are all of the steps to get a specific result. So an input and an output is what I would define a process as.

TP: What is actually needed... Quite many of all those entrepreneurs out there and people are moving to online business lately due to some specific pandemic. What kind of systems are required and and how those not well designed system can impact customer service?

KE: Yeah. So you're right, things are moving to online. But when you have a focus on customer service, I would recommend that you just start to analyse and review all of your touch points and interactions with your customer, whether they're online or in person, you still have a touch point and are they consistent? Are you missing out on any opportunities to provide better customer service? When you start to look at all of those things, and if you see that there are cases where you can make improvements right, then that's where your focus needs to be because your chaos and when you drop the ball or you're not following up with your customers, right you could you could really risk losing customers and falling behind in the market. And when your customers are frustrated with you or your team or how you're interacting with them, you know they can go elsewhere. You know customers I think have a lot more information available to them. About you about your services, about your competitors, right. And so the way you're delivering your products or your services to them in a positive, proactive approach, because you're predicting their needs, solving their issues before they, they even maybe know they have them, or all of those things are result of a good process. So being systematic, and repeatable and predictable, is going to help you ensure you don't miss anything. And you're not falling behind on meeting customer deliverables.

TP: So basically, if you fail in that, you lose money?

KE: Yes, you do.

TP: Okay. And then there is another side -- all kind of engagement with employees. How is this working?

KE: And so again, you know, think of all the chaos right that you have. And if you have a team of employees, one or two or more, that chaos is really preventing them from collaborating, sharing information, and it can cause a lot of strain on your company, which obviously then impacts the customer. But even more than that, it's going to cause confusion over what are the objectives, you know, it could cause duplicative work among the employees or even missing deadlines. So, again, if you see your teams are confused, or not clear about what to do, or you, as the owner are finding that you have to go back and do rework, then it's time to look at those processes and really define what the roles are, what are the responsibilities for each person on your team, you know, I believe to lead that employee engagement is ongoing, right. So when employees are engaged at work, when they understand what their role is the value they're providing to your company, the value they're bringing to your customers, they're going to be committed, but they're also emotionally invested in making your company successful. So there's definitely a very direct correlation between highly engaged employees, high performance and business results. So when you develop those clear processes around your employees, what they're responsible for, what is the onboarding process look like? And make sure they're held accountable to that. Now you're removing those silos, and you're really encouraging collaboration, which will ultimately, right affect how they service your customers.

TP: So again, you fail in that you lose money?

KE: Right!

TP: I totally get that for bigger companies, you have to have all those systems and processes. What about small companies or actually even solopreneurs, they are working alone, they don't have huge teams, Is there any sense for them even to think about creating processes for the business?

KE: Now, that's a great question totally. And I would even argue that in bigger companies, you will you do, although you have more resources to help with developing and implementing processes. Not all large companies have the right people to do it. Or it's not even a strategic initiative. And for smaller companies, and even solopreneurs, it is a challenge, right? Because like you said, you're wearing many hats, you're very busy. you're developing and implementing solutions. And it's taking, you know, time and energy. And although I think small business owners or solopreneurs believe that their current manual processes are limiting their revenue, they also believe it's too expensive to upgrade or improve. So that could be preventing them from growing as a company. So I would say it's even more imperative for smaller companies, and solopreneurs, even to have these in place because they are limited on time and resources. So when you look at as a solopreneur, let's say, when you look at all the time you're spending on each of your processes, right, you're going to want to maximise your time by developing faster ways of doing things. So you know, so you can spend time on revenue generating activities. So if you look at, okay, I've got to do this on social media. This every week, is there an automated way of doing that, for instance, so that you can scale the time that you have on activities that are going to bring more revenue into your company.

TP: So basically, it's resource for time saving, which again, equals money?

KE: Time savings, right! Cost savings, right! That's another area. You know, keeping paper records can be expensive. And, you know, honestly, truly, there are so many great tools out there that are very affordable. They're they're usually in a SaaS model software as a service. And that can help you automate so many things. I even I'm amazed at the products out there, appointment setting, task management, customer service, there's all different tools out there. So I think there's a lot of opportunity, right to maybe automate the things you don't even like doing, or you spend a lot of time doing. So you can focus on the things that are bringing more revenue into your company.

TP: Oh, I like this part for those things you don't like to do!

KE: Yes. We all have them.

TP: Okay, where can we start?

KE: So I think where to start is to really just observe and document your current state of operations, right? How are you managing customers information? How are you invoicing, billing, ordering supplies, anything you're currently doing, just take a look at that you don't have to do all the areas at once. In fact, I'm going to tell everyone listening just to pick one, pick one where you are spending most of your time, or maybe you are missing deadlines, or you're not servicing your customers in a manner you want. Or maybe your customers have said to you, like, Hey, I'm noticing a lot of a delay in this area or this area. So pick one. So once you have that area selected, right, research, if there is a tool that can help you there is like I mentioned a tonne out there.
And you know, look for opportunities to remove steps in those process in that process that you picked. Again, take small steps, you don't have to automate everything, just pick one area, and just every little step you take is going to over time gain efficiencies.

TP: So what ever thins people feel, or entrepreneurs feel that ... okay, it's the most chaotic one for them.

KE: Yes.  I would pick one and start with one. You don't have to automate every areas. So whether that's your human resources area, something in customer service, something and finance, I was talking to somebody who, as a solopreneur, runs a service for managing people's kind of online technology, their Windows systems and things like that. And one of the things that he hated doing was invoicing. And every customer was on a different billing cycle. And so we were talking and brainstorming ideas. And he was spending, I don't know, 30 hours a week or month on that. And I said, that's a lot of time that you could be doing selling your services. So we talked about just kind of biting the bullet and actually outsourcing that whole piece. So not even just looking at automated tools, totally, but maybe even outsourcing some things that you don't like to do, or you know, you're just not not being very efficient. You're dropping the ball on is another way to kind of earn back time earned back, you know, even money to do other things.

TP: Hmm, that's a clever idea. Thank you for that. Where from can intrapreneurs find all those tools and software? Do you have any any recommendation? Where can they find those?

KE: They're simple Google search. For let's say, I'm looking for a tool to help with task management. With Google task management, you'll find Asana Trello, there's a tonne of tools that are just on that. A new ones are popping up. You can even find great ones that offer a free trial for 90 days. So you don't really have anything to lose. You know, if anybody is kind of stuck and doesn't know where to look, I'm happy to, you know, help them in that area. But there's just a lot out there is just by simply googling a process or a tool, I guarantee you, you're going to find something.

TP: So simple Google search and the tonne of different tools, and quite many of them probably for free?

KE: Yes.

So when you implement a good process, or improve a process, this can really propel a small business to service more customers, process more orders, deliver more value simply by cutting out steps in a particular area. - Kristine Esparza, Podcast Step Up & Thrive

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TP: What is your biggest revelation about process improvement?

KE: Yeah, that's a good question. Totally. I would say. I think it is really a largely missed opportunity because it gives you the ability to to scale your business by really implementing good process improvement techniques. So when I talk about scaling, what does that mean? That means that you are doing more with little to no increase in cost. So when you implement a good process, or improve a process, this can really propel a small business to service more customers, process more orders, deliver more value simply by cutting out steps in a particular area. So think of it, think of the waste, or the frustration that you're encountering in your day to day business operations. Now think of a well oiled machine that takes inputs through a process, and outputs the same thing over and over. So as long as all those machine parts are working and oiled, you can continue to input more and more, you haven't added any more machines. The same is like for your business. So the machine you're trying to develop needs to include all the parts that help you all your employees, you know, servicing your customers in a way that's consistent, efficient, predictable, so that you can service more customers with that machine that you have,

TP: Quite productive way to do business, I would say.

KE: I mean, you know, when you think about it, I use the well oiled machine. Because look what Henry Ford did, right with the assembly line, same thing, right, he cut all those steps out, made it repeatable, predictable, you can do more. And over time, you'll start to see other areas that you can do the same thing with. So that's when I said, start with one area. And you'll start to see that the efficiencies you gained, you're going to want to expand it into the other processes in your company.

TP: So that basically, with those step by step systems, you can improve your whole business and all different areas related to your business.

KE: Yes, absolutely. And you'll get better and better over time, as you're going through and repeating them.

TP: Thank you so much. So what we learned that processes save money, and they help scaling business. So yeah, these are really valuable things for any women entrepreneurs to take into account and take into use.

KE: Absolutely.

TP: Thank you so much, Kristine, for joining and sharing all those tips. And if our listeners would like to know more about you and follow you, where can they do so. And yes, you have great call to action. Please tell about that as well.

KE: Yes, absolutely. So you can email me at kristine @ ialignsolutions.com. You can visit my website https://ialignsolutions.com/. And for your listeners that have any other questions or they want to talk, I'm offering a 30 minute strategy session to talk about process improvement, brainstorm ideas on how to improve your processes.

TP: Yes, please do so. This is really valuable information for everybody to use and Kristine's time. Yes, it's valuable!

KE: And welcoming all the people on your show that are listening to your show. Truly, I'm happy to help in any way that I can share ideas and really look forward to helping your audience really improve their processes.

TP: Yes, and more money and more time for those things which actually produce money.

KE: That's right.


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  • Heather Davis says:

    Loved it!