A woman holding a pen is discussing processes with a group of people.

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From 15 to 30 Employees with Transparent Processes

Want to scale quickly and in a way that employees will actually thank you for? Follow this CEO’s journey in utilising transparent processes that resulted in systemization, centralization and scaling.

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⛰️The Challenge

Getting 30 employees to use the same processes 😬

In 2013, Koen Lepez struck out on his own to create Direct – a whole new kind of managed security service provider.

Eight years on and 30 employees later, it’s safe to say Koen is uniquely experienced at tackling the challenges a growing business can throw your way.

And for Koen, the growing pains started pretty early on in one important area: Processe

Koen Lepez, CEO Direct

Trying scale at pace

For Koen, the challenge was the breakneck speed at which Direct was growing. And while fast growth is a great problem to have, if Koen and the team at Direct wanted to maintain their success, he knew they’d have to find a way to eliminate inefficiencies across the entire team.

“It was painful for me and my colleagues whenever a new hire joined. Time and time again explaining, ‘You need to do this like this, etc.’ At a certain point, as a new starter, you don’t want to ask again, so you lose a lot of time trying to find it yourself. And often you then do it wrong.”

While Koen’s peers in other businesses were content with documenting their processes in Excel, he quickly realized he wasn’t doing his team any favors by hiding away their SOPs in a spreadsheet.

“Most of these guys were doing the same as us: putting their accountability chart in some Excel document here or there. Nobody knows where it is, how it’s documented or how they can find it.”

Koen knew there had to be a better way. He needed a way to "make processes as valuable as possible for employees, so they go back and use them". That’s when his search for a process documentation tool began."

“It's not just Whale or just EOS. It's a combination of all those things that make you a mature company. A place where people find some peace in their jobs and maybe peace in their personal lives, too. What I won't ever forget is the time that the wife of one of my colleagues came to me and said, 'Since my husband has been working with you guys, he's a different man. He's really changed for the better.’”
koen-lepez-Direct
Koen Lepez
CEO, Direct

💡The Solution

A platform that makes processes easy and exciting

Koen knew the truth: process documentation isn’t the sexiest task.

“You don’t see an immediate return. We were writing out processes in Word and it was very counterintuitive.”

But when he finally stumbled upon Whale, suddenly process documentation didn’t seem so snooze-worthy after all. In fact, it could actually be…enjoyable. 🤔

“The moment we started using Whale, we saw that people got excited about it. Not excited as in ‘Wow, we’re going to go to Disneyland’, but there was definitely a feeling of excitement around the idea of, ‘Hey, we’re finally moving along with this’.”

More than just a document repository

While they hadn’t quite hit Disneyland level just yet (watch this space), Whale was the solution that offered Koen and his team more than just a place to store some dusty old SOPs.

“We had documents here and there and in places where nobody could find them, so we were looking for a tool like Whale where we can store not only our processes, but also how to onboard someone, how to share information, how to keep it up to date and even how Direct started. Because those are the real challenges. Even if you put something somewhere, nobody looks at it. Whale helped us put some traction on it.”

It wasn’t long before Koen started to notice his shiny new solution wasn’t just a superficial tool or some ‘nice-to-have’ software. It was actually crafting the company culture and helping to engrain its values across the team.

“As you move along and improve clarity, employees start relating their processes to your culture and values whenever they have to make decisions. They start believing in the process and the bigger picture.”

Finally, Koen and his leadership team were free from the pain of answering the same questions over and over again. With the right SOPs at their fingertips, even Direct’s newest hires had the answers they needed to make the right decisions for the business.

⏩ The Results

A diagram illustrating the career processes of an employee.

Faster employee onboarding and fewer repeat questions

When it comes to the results, Koen has a lot to say about the impact that process documentation through Whale has had for him, his team and the entire organization at Direct.

 

“When you have something written out in Whale you can really look at the process and ask ‘What am I doing wrong and what am I doing right?’, and then optimize it. That doesn’t happen until you write it out — you do it over and over again, put a lot of effort in, but keep making the same mistakes. When you document and share it, the company can look at what will make it as efficient as possible — that’s when you really start seeing optimization.”

Standardizing processes leads to time saving

Processes save you time and improve operating efficiency. Rather than making up their own answers, Koen’s employees are finding everything they need, right where they need it — they don’t even have to switch screens.

Process

And it’s not just the time it takes to find answers that’s been a game changer for Koen. He and his team are also onboarding team members in a fraction of the time it used to take.

 

“In onboarding, processes are especially useful because everybody is told the same things. Having the right information in the right place has made hiring more efficient for them and for us. And if they don’t remember next time, they can just go back and find it.”

Of course, Koen and the team at Direct didn’t get here overnight. There was an initial time investment in getting the entire business standardized and documented. Yet surprisingly, the team at Direct was able to document the vast majority of their processes in less than a year.

"In one year we mapped out all of our boards on Whale — the big chunks; not what we’ll put in the email we send, but that we’re going to send an email. And then we went down to the next level and that’s how Whale allowed us to tackle it: quarter by quarter, month by month, year by year.”

Documentation with automation

The way Koen sees it, eating the process documentation elephant bite by bite is the only way to do it. Once you’ve gotten most of it down, it’s as simple as setting regular notifications for the right people to update the right SOPs.

And no matter how you approach it, it’s always worth the effort.

“It’s nice to know that you’re not just making a business impact, you’re making a personal impact in employees’ lives. As a company, transparency is one of our core values. Decisions should always be transparent. With those core values documented in Whale, employees can go back to them if they are ever in doubt for any decision.”

For Koen, that sense of transparency, support and unity in the team is what process documentation is really all about. It’s not so much the SOPs themselves, but the culture you create when you invite your team into the workflows that make your business a success.

“What I won’t ever forget is the time that the wife of one of my colleagues came to me and said, ‘Since my husband has been working with you guys, he’s a different man. He’s really changed for the better.’"

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