Operations - Developing Processes for a startup


I'd like to know if anyone can recommend, a book, a blog, a document, heck even a contact who has some solid experience in developing business processes.

Our company is pretty small, we are 6 people, so I guess it's perfect timing, to get the organization ball rolling.

Today we really don't have much if any processes in place and this can surely not keep going.

Sales are coming in, and our client base is growing, we need to make sure we are on top of things.

Thank you!!



We run a B2B software company. I run sales and have one person reporting to me, We have our head of development who is also the CEO and he has 1 developer working under him. Then we have our accounting guy and a technical support person to help customers with the software.
Let me know if you need any more details.

Business Process Organization

asked Nov 5 '10 at 10:58
113 points
  • Can you clarify exactly what's your business? Because it's nearly impossible to suggest any business process without knowing what you are doing. – Filippo Diotalevi 13 years ago

5 Answers


I'd be leery of implementing or prescribing a process just to have a process. If one of the people there has had good experience with a process for a particular activity then I'd try those out. The key is flexibility IMO. Too many times the process becomes the output and in small organizations that is death.

I am not advocating no process - but I think you have to start small and grow it - not the other way around.

Figure out what the major risks are for your company or what things you really don't want to see happen or what things you would like to see happen and then figure out the "process" that will result in the desired effect. I would do this in order of highest priority and also lowest hanging fruit. Get the most bang for your buck.

The 5 whys (or is it 6 whys?) is worth looking up on google. Of course - that comes up after you've encountered a problem and are looking for a fix.

Another key is to pick and choose/prioritize your battles - with few people you can't do everything.

After re-reading your question and my answer it appears I have done nothing to help. I think we need additional information about what activities you want to target? I can recommend soem development process books/resources, but have no suggestions for other activities.

answered Nov 5 '10 at 11:17
Tim J
8,346 points


I have over 10 years of experience in setting up large scale multi-million dollar Operations in US(Seattle), Mexico, and India. I have setup CMMI level IT projects, established business processes and help them achieve a stable state.

Let me know if you want me to help you out.

Vivek (contact - vivek dot sp at gmail dot com)

answered Nov 5 '10 at 12:42
156 points
  • CMM, etc is EXACTLY the kind of thing that kills 6 person companies. Don't get me wrong - it is great where appropriate. I used to be a process weenie. In fact, I have Watts Humprey's original SEI CMM book 3 feet away from me. ("managing the software process") And I read it cover to cover and actually enjoyed it at the time. – Tim J 13 years ago
  • :) I can understand. I did not mention that I also have been helping numerous start-ups in stabilizing their processes. Its all about leveraging the best practices from experience and applying what makes sense. – User4635 13 years ago


I would suppose it depends on what type of business model it is you are offering. If you are lets say selling product to the masses then a process for returns, chargebacks etc would be beneficial. But if you are seeking to expand internal process ie; deliverables, load testing etc
Surely your head IT person has a method they utilize today even if its loose. Begin with an outline on a whiteboard and add to it until you can get a formalized "best practice" overview.
I agree with other previous statements in with you only know specifically the need and product offering so without specifics it can tough to give you concise information. But we advise to initially keep it loose as your model may twist and turn with client demand. getting too heavy in process may make you lose the treeline by becoming entrenched in the forest so to speak. Best of luck to you.

answered Nov 5 '10 at 21:39
Xs Direct
275 points


Get your sales pipeline and prospect/client data under control. It's not easy. When you know what it takes to turn prospects into clients, knowing when to grow, how to train, and how much you can compensate staff is much easier. You want to know if you're leaving money on the table. Are people following-up? You can start to identify/quantify what is working and be able to notice when it is not (before it's too late.)?

Billing, shipping, payroll and customer service can be much easier to manage if they don't have to constantly adapt to a chaotic sales process. You're small and growing and will constantly be adapting the way you do things but that doesn't mean is has to be a mess all the time.

answered Nov 6 '10 at 05:45
Jeff O
6,169 points


I have been building and running operations in startups my entire 14 year career. One I am most proud of I got to help build out from 20 to 120+ in 2 years I was there (high-end software development company). I currently doing exactly the same thing for company I am in here in Cambridge, MA. So no, I am not available :-)

I am running a blog on building capital-efficient well managed startups and small businesses.
I mostly write about lessons I have learned (and some lessons of others).

Checking it out!

Lean Startup Blog - rants and raves from the startup and small business trenches.

answered Nov 5 '10 at 13:23
Apollo Sinkevicius
3,323 points
  • Would love to find out why folks chose to vote this down? Didn't I point OP to what he asked for? Just wondering. – Apollo Sinkevicius 13 years ago

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