While well-documented systems may increase marketability and value of your business, there's also the risk that systems have simply formalized bad practices. If you've not done an audit of your systems for a while, it may be a good exercise to do so. How? One suggestion is to simply review each procedure and ask the following questions:
- Why was this procedure established?
- Is the condition or circumstance that required the procedure still relevant today?
- Is the procedure still necessary?
- Do employees think the procedure works well?
- Is the procedure really being followed, and if not, what are employees doing instead?
- Are there non-value added steps in the procedure?
- Is there new technology or information that would allow the task to be accomplished more efficiently?
One company I worked with a few years ago had a policy of printing and filing a certain type of email they received that contained information necessary for legal compliance. I asked them why they printed and stored the emails since they could access them electronically, and was told that they were doing so to comply with industry regulations. That seemed kind of odd, so out of curiosity I did a little research and found that there was no such regulation. They then said "that's the way we've always done things." When we started researching this more we found that this policy had been implemented in the early days of email so that if there was a technology problem they wouldn't lose them - in other words, they were doing paper-based back-up! They had a file cabinet full of these printed emails, not to mention the time and paper used to keep up this obsolete policy. The people at this company weren't stupid and used other technology well (and certainly didn't print other emails), they just forgot why the policy had been put in place and assumed there was a legitimate reason for it to continue.