Creating Processes In Your Business

When I woke up this morning, I had this very clear idea about something I wanted to try to get working across my Casual Marketer business.  The idea was pretty simple, start creating procedures for the tasks that we don’t currently do well.

It really was that simple of an idea.

The biggest process failing I have is turning these emails into blog posts and publishing them on the Casual Marketer site.  I think over the medium and long-term the content of my daily emails should be quite beneficial from an organic search perspective, so publishing them on the site is important.

Except it’s not happening.

I could make a bunch of excuses as to why it’s not happening, but the truth is, the reason is that too much of it relies on me doing stuff.  I’m busy and that’s the lowest priority task so it is always the one that falls away.

So this morning I woke up inspired to document the procedure and figure out how I might be able to get other people to help me.

After I went to breakfast, bought a new garbage bin for the kitchen, picked up some new solar Christmas lights for the garden and did the grocery shopping, I came home and got stuck into it.  You can see that even my inspiration around this ongoing task ends up getting placed further down the old “to do” list.

Anyway, I started out and documented the steps at a high level.  I created a checklist from that list of activities and felt proud of myself.

Then I decided to see how far I could take it.

I’ve tried many, many times over the last couple years to find a way to not only use Slack but to actually come to like it.  People that get into it absolutely rave.  Personally, I’ve always found it to be a bit of a nuisance.

I decided to give it a go and see if I could somehow make Slack work for me.

The first thing I did was set up a channel in Slack dedicated to the creation of new blog posts from email.  One thing I learned from using Slack in the past is that discrete activities require their own channels to contain the crazy.

I then created an IFTTT Recipe that goes into a label in my Gmail, finds the daily emails that I send and pulls them into the Slack channel.  I’m pulling in the entire body of the email so that if someone is going to create a blog post from it then the entire post is in Slack and they only need to copy and paste the text into the new WordPress post.  As the end of the body, I’ve added in a special highlighted word tag which I’ll explain in a second.

The other thing I’ve done is I’ve gone to a product called Manifestly and created the standard operating procedure checklist.  Manifestly allows you to easily create checklists as templates and then when you need to execute the checklist you run it.  It also integrates natively with Slack.

This is where the special highlighted word comes in.

I’ve created a zap in Zapier that listens for new posts in the dedicated channel and specifically filters looking for the highlighted word.  When the email is pulled in with that highlighted word, the zap fires and creates a new checklist in the channel using Manifestly so that all the tasks are there. in sequence.  I can go into Manifestly if I want to and assign the tasks to people and Slack will respect that which is great.

What I really like about Manifestly’s use of Slack is that it uses the Slack buttons feature so that people can close or make comments on tasks without ever having to leave the Slack channel.  And at any time I can poll the Manifestly bot in the channel and see which tasks are still outstanding.

In effect, I’ve not only documented the process today but I completely was able to automate the management of the ongoing procedure using Slack.

Then I had some spare time so I set up a Slack channel to listen to Twitter for any references made to me and pointed a few Google Alerts feeds in there as well.  That literally took five minutes to do – which was handy because I’d been considering getting a subscription to Mention, but that’s $100/mth to get a properly working version.

Here’s the funny part though – this solution that I’ve built is pretty powerful, the only problem though is that I’m not sure if I like it.  I find Slack intrusive.  I dislike tools like Asana and Basecamp even more, but that’s not really setting a high standard.  I’m going to have to see how this pans out before I commit to it.

Ultimately, I’m going to have to figure this thing out because I need to start getting these posts done.  The answer that many people have said to me is, “Oh, just get your team to do it for you.”  The problem with that is you end up managing people for the same amount of time as you would just doing the task yourself.  The challenge I’m trying to solve is to eliminate the management overhead.

Either way, it was a fun day.  It’s sometimes nice to just roll up your sleeves and play with technology to see what you can make it do.  At one point early in the piece, I’d cracked open a code editor to start writing my own Slack automation bot to do this – then I realized that what I was doing was crazy and someone else must have solved it.

The big win though out of everything is I’ve now found the important task that always gets forgotten and I’ve written a procedure for getting it done.  If you can examine your business every once in awhile, reach down inside the operational layer and find those necessary tasks that you can wrap a procedure around you should try because you inevitably come away discovering a bit of gold.

Sean’s Update, January 2018 – This process failed miserably.  There’s no way to sugarcoat this at all.  I don’t think the tech was the problem, it was the operator… Me.  I’m not working on getting this sorted out.  I fell behind by about 550 – that means I had about 550 daily emails that needed to be turned into blog posts.  That number is down to less than 400 and shrinking, so it looks like I’m getting over this stumbling block.

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