We are a small (currently 5 employees) e-commerce company that sells widgets from our website. We are poised for growth, and have been for some time, but there's something major holding us back-- aside from a couple of core people that have been here since the company's inception, there is a high turnaround rate for new employees. We actually had to throttle our incoming orders (cut down on advertising, stopped sending e-newsletters, etc.) because we can't keep enough customer service people to handle the number of orders that we COULD be getting. We desperately need to hire more customer service reps, but the issue we keep running into is this: We have certain ways of doing things here, ways that have generally proven to be quicker and/or more efficient and/or less expensive (and there's a reason behind every one-- they're not arbitrary), but there are a LOT of such rules, and it's nearly impossible to train a newcomer on the litany of things they're expected to follow for every procedure. "You can drop-ship this order, but only if it's before 3PM, and only if the customer didn't choose expedited shipping, and only if the order is between $30 and $100 dollars, but if they DID choose expedited shipping, or if the order is over $100, then..." and so on.
As the lead (only) web developer here, I've been trying to handle as many of these little rules as I can, programmatically. That is, in our store's backend, I code things so that certain buttons or functions are shown/hidden or enabled/disabled based on whether or not they apply to that order or situation... I'm trying to make it as easy as possible for the people who need to use the backend to process orders and help customers, but it's still not enough. New employees inevitably end up making mistakes because they didn't know (and had no reason to know until it comes up) that orders for blue widgets shipping to Ohio on a Wednesday get a different kind of mailing label... and so on.
This "system" would work just fine if the manager was the only employee, or if the company was staffed entirely by robot clones of the manager, but unfortunately we're operating in real life and we need to come up with some kind of actual onboarding and training process for new employees so that they don't need to run their every action past the manager, because at this point it's like a bottleneck. Orders, returns, and things get backed up because they need the manager's attention, and he's got 10,000 things on his plate at all times. Objectively, he's right about each of the reasons behind why we do things the way we do, but in the bigger picture, it's holding us back.
Is this a common scenario? I recognize that we need to take some huge steps toward standardizing our procedures, but I have no idea where to begin.