High growth wedding business? Are your processes in place?
As businesses grow, they often need some formalising systems put in place to ensure that projects get done on time, everyone is on the same page, and nothing gets missed. We spoke to software developer Simon Holloway, who helped to implement project management processes during his time at Guides for Brides, about how they can help wedding businesses…
Can you explain simply what you mean by processes?
“Processes are rules put in place to ensure that jobs are done properly without any steps being missed out, especially when there are many points of failure. They basically make sure that the right people see the right things at the right times – it’s project management.”
How important is it for businesses to have processes in place?
“I think it’s very important. Processes come with a lot of red tape, and they won’t always be appropriate for every situation depending on how big or small the task is, but not having them can lead to mistakes and misunderstandings.”
You implemented new processes when you came to work for Guides for Brides. How easy is it to introduce new systems to a workplace?
“There were luckily already processes in place here, and everyone was very receptive to the new ones. It really relies on people embracing the choice to follow certain steps, and everyone here did, especially Alison. As far as scale goes, there’s always a danger that you create too many or too few processes for people to follow, so it’s about finding that balance.”
How can the size of a business affect the processes it chooses to put in place?
“In a one-man business, you don’t need any formal processes, as it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Having said that, it’s not just big businesses that can benefit from implementing new systems.
“When I joined Guides for Brides, the development team was smaller than it is now, and we were finding that there were occasional gaps in our communication. There were conversations that had been had before I started, as well as specifications that were sometimes inconsistent as they’d been created by different designers and staff members. Moving from a paper to a digital system was a really big leap in helping us get more organised and smoothing out those lines of communication.”
We used Trello to help implement design, development and marketing processes at Guides for Brides. Which programs do you recommend for other businesses, and do they cost money?
“Trello is great and comes with a free package, which has suited our needs really well. If businesses are looking at optimising their project management in tech, then I recommend Jira or Pivotal Tracker. These come with a paid subscription, so if you’re talking 20 to 30 people in a business this can quickly rack up a big bill. GitLab is full product suite that comes with both free and paid tiers, and is great for more technical businesses starting from scratch.”
What are your top tips for businesses who are thinking about formalising more of their processes, but perhaps haven’t done it before and don’t know where to start?
“Identify where you’re having issues and decide whether processes can help sort these. Decide who should be part of your processes too, and what the input and output should be. For example, we use our development Tickets board to organise any technical problems that have cropped up or projects that we want to start. The input is the ticket, which sets out exactly what the problem is or the specifications of the project. This gets moved on to the review, which we do once a week to decide the time estimate of the project and what the priority order is. We then figure out what the next steps of this are, and that’s the output of that ticket.
“There are various stages and processes we have, for example our Awaiting Review process. Somebody might have been speccing a feature or a document or a plan for a couple of weeks. This may have gone to Design and been mocked up, which has then gone to Alison to get her stamp of approval, and then is then ready for Development. We have Trello columns to represent each of the stages of this process, so we can logically see the next steps.
“Generally dividing up larger projects into boards is a great way for businesses to keep their projects more readable and avoid overwhelming teams.”