What is the difference between a tool, system and a process?

What is the difference between a tool, system and a process? It’s something that many entrepreneurs struggle with when they first start out. Put simply, systems and processes help your business run. Use them well, and they’ll save you time, effort and money. Systems and processes will also help you to grow and scale your business. Know your processes, and you’ll know exactly what tools you need for your business, and you’ll know what you need to make it run more efficiently.

But if you’re wondering what exactly is the difference between a tool, system and a process, read on! You’ll find a complete breakdown of each and why they’re so important to your business!

What is a system?


A system helps your business run. It’s the core ‘thing’ or element you’re looking to implement – your blueprint. Think of your system as the things that make your business run as a whole. Often, your business pillars are the systems within your business – marketing, sales, customer service, technology, finance, and business operations.
[You can read more about why business operations are an essential pillar here.]

Within each of those systems, you could have smaller systems – content creation, customer services, invoicing etc. Social media and pay per click advertising would both be systems within your marketing. Whilst blog posts and podcasts are systems within your content creation system.

What is a process?


On the other hand, the process is the things you do to make the system work most efficiently. So it’s the steps you take to implement those systems.

So continuing with the above examples, when you look at social media, your process may involve the steps you use to create and schedule your content. For blog posts and podcasts, your processes could include the steps you follow to batch and automate content. Customer service may consist of a process for gathering feedback, whilst finance would consist of one for chasing late payments.

Delegation and outsourcing both are processes within your systems. You’ll have a set process (or number of steps) you follow to hand over the task to your outsourcer, as well as checking, editing and providing feedback on that work.

Business tools


A tool is often the thing we get attracted to first. It’s the parts we need in order to implement the process within the system. Your tools are the things you use – your software, apps, websites, platforms, equipment. 

Apps such as Canva, SmarterQueue, Facebook, Instagram, templates within your Google docs or sheets are examples of the tools you may have in your business.

Tools make your life easier. They help you implement the steps within your processes to create systems that work well for you. 

When you have transparent systems and processes in place, you gain a clear understanding of the changes you need to make to improve how you work and the results you give your clients. It becomes easier to choose between the various tools available to you, as you have a clear understanding of what you want and need that tool to do. And when you have the right systems, processes and tools in place, you are running your business in a way that suits you and helps you reach your goals faster and more efficiently.

Finding the right tool for your business can be such a hassle! To save you time, overwhelm and money, I’ve created a  PDF download outlining some of my favourite apps and tools – you can download your copy here.

 

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