Process documentation can be a crucial double-edged sword. Plenty of industries require it and they use it only because they think it’s the right thing to do. On the other side, many businesses avoid it, thinking that it is a complete waste of time and energy.
A lot of businesses usually ask, is process documentation worth it or not? As businesses grow, it becomes highly difficult to keep track of all the processes taking place in an organization. What is the best way to handle all those complexities? Process Documentation.
As your business becomes more successful, it has more steps, more checks, more clients, more orders, and more people involved in running the daily operations. Ever wondered how can organizations remain efficient to ensure scale effectively?
Process documentation is where to begin. In this guide, you will learn all about process documentation, what to expect, and how to be involved. Let’s dig in to find out.
What is Process Documentation?
Process Documentation outlines all the actions needed to complete a task or carry out a process. It explains the ‘how’ of implementation, rather than the ‘what’. While the documentation is considered an internal document, it is known as a living document, such as the document being updated as required.
You can assume that process documentation is a detailed set of instructions for carrying out difficult business activities. It is the internal process of understanding and implementing the required steps to complete a business process or task. The field of process documentation emphasizes ‘how’ the members should perform the task, not ‘what’ the process is.
Process Documentation is crucial for any business it creates consistency and allows your team to learn from both their successes and their mistakes. Thus, it is quite a vital blueprint for conducting business activities.
Why your business does need process documentation?
These are a few of the benefits of using process documentation for your business,
1. Enhancing a process
Plenty of business processes are repeatable and necessary for the proper functioning of a business. By writing down processes properly, you can easily reduce the guesswork and make it super easier for people, including the new employees to repeat the vital processes.
2. Improving analytical elements
Businesses can significantly enhance efficiency by analyzing processes and streamlining said processes. This becomes much simpler to do if you have detailed documentation that outlines each process. Besides the process themselves, companies can also get a better understanding of stakeholders.
3. Improves employee productivity
Handy process documents in any organization allow employees to quickly refer to how to do a particular task, rather than waiting for a tutorial from any of their peers. A study found that employees spend 5 hours on average per week waiting to receive information and support from the right colleague.
Without proper process documentation, your employees are likely to waste time waiting on other staff or leadership to guide them on how to do a task, which will eventually reduce employee productivity in an organization.
4. Ensures Compliance
Process documentation helps to make company rules, regulations, and policies easily available for employees, so they are usually mindful of following them. Such as, your customer service guidelines might state information reps must not be disclosed during a customer service call to avoid breaching privacy rules.
Non-compliance with state and government often leads to fines, revenue loss, and other reputational damage. Process documents will ensure that your company does not face any such costs and remains aligned with your company’s compliance strategy.
5. Protects organizational knowledge and enhances consistency
Process documentation saves your staff from tiring trial and errors, as they might repeat the same process and make the same mistake as well. Documentation helps to achieve similar results for daily processes without any trial and error – maintaining consistency across your team and promoting knowledge sharing.
Documentation also helps when team members leave an organization, without it, companies would need to recreate the processes from scratch or reach out to previous members for support in training any new hires.
Who is involved in the process documentation process?
Process documentation can be created by a number of people within an organization, each contributing a specific section, both within and outside of an organization.
- Project team – The project team is highly responsible for building documentation, this team will usually collaborate as a team. They will remain objective as they are not involved in day-to-day activities and are in a better position to record information for documentation.
- Materials and resources – It’s smart to think of materials and resources ahead of time as a person, as their contribution is fundamental. The correct resources must be set aside to support documentation.
- Stakeholders – Anyone within your organization involved in a specific project should be interested in process documentation, regardless of how minimal their role is or how converse is their title.
- External Stakeholders – Sharing personal company details with outside resources always remains a bit tricky, however, it is essential to source external stakeholders’ information as well. Their insight and opinions can be highly beneficial for process documentation.
Example of Process Documentation Format Types
There are multiple types of process documents that exist in many format types, such as,
- Visual process maps
- Quick reference guides
- White papers
- Onboarding Documents
- Off boarding Documents
- Staff Training Manuals
- Video Tutorials
- To-do Lists
- And a lot more.
All of these documents should be readily available to employees in a specific location, such as a company portal or an internal knowledge base, so they are easier to find and referenced whenever needed by staff members.
Some common examples of process documentation include employee onboarding/off-boarding checklists, performance review guidelines, how-to’s, content publishing guidelines, customer service guidelines, and software documentation such as API documentation.
How to effectively document your business processes in 2022
Process documentation requires proper research, so staff members who read it can gain the best possible outcomes.
1. Define a project scope for the process you want to document
Think of each of the process documents you create as a separate project, and define the scope of the project early on, including important information such as stakeholders, due dates, success metrics, etc. Ensure that all your objectives are focused on specific business goals.
Without a defined scope to track progress, your process documentation project can easily consume more of your team member’s time than required or to be relegated to the back in favor of other activities.
2. Collect all the information on the business process
Once you streamline the goals for your process documentation, it’s time to collect the information about all the raw materials required for the process. Collecting all this information upfront makes it easier to organize the process document.
There are multiple ways of collecting information about a process, you can appoint a person in your company to collect all the process-related information. This can include dedicated researchers who can gather information from different places such as through interviews, surveys, or shadowing teams as they work. Also, you might also appoint one person in each team to document processes as they evolve in their team.
A few of the details that you must collect are the duration of the process, process inputs, people and required skills, tools, methods of the process, and order of the processes. With all this information, you can create the process draft outline.
3. Create a Visual Outline for the Document
A visual outline shows you at a glance if you have covered all the essential steps for a process in a logical manner. You are likely to jumble up the steps to be performed by different people in your organization. To create an outline, take a proper look at the method of the process section in your research.
Arrange all the different steps in the method section in the order of the process and note the person responsible for performing it. Select a particular timeline for each process, if the process does not have a specific deadline, add simple steps for differentiation. Bring your process outline together in a visual format such as a flowchart, table, or tree map. Look for any missing steps in your process, or if you have ordered down any steps incorrectly.
4. Make it easily accessible online
You can have physical copies of your process documentation, however, a good way to make them accessible anytime, for all your employees is to publish them online. Online documentation is easier to upload and maintain, it is more collaborative and provides user analytics on usage.
Use simple online storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive to store all your documentation for an internal knowledge base with a search bar to help employees find out what they need. Tools such as nTask can also be used to collaborate with different departments and share processes.
Add Process Documentation to your Business Tools for Best Outcomes
Plenty of businesses rely upon tools sales use CRM software, marketing uses landing page builders and marketing automation platforms, and HE teams use people management software and a lot more. It makes a lot more sense to store process documentation inside the tools that allow a specific process instead of a static knowledge base or a company wiki.
With process documentation stored in resources, employees can highly access knowledge right in the middle of work instead of toggling between apps. Choose a process documentation tool that helps you create documents step by step, so you can understand how to perform specific tasks.