The Value of Process Documentation
October 28, 2021
What is Process Documentation?
Process Documentation is the act of taking your organization’s processes, tasks, and responsibilities out of people’s minds, and putting them into written form. This allows them to be seen, reviewed, referred to, and updated to better match the company’s goals and vision. It is an important part of training development, but even more important to business functionality in general.
Why is Process Documentation Important?
Many smaller companies don’t document their processes, and instead rely on individual workers to understand what they need to do and how they need to do it. This is often because there is limited time or resources available. To small businesses, documentation often takes time that could be better spent selling products and services, creating marketing efforts, or onboarding new clients.
However, this lack of focus on process documentation eventually catches up to some SMBs when they need to scale up, hire new workers, add new responsibilities and roles to the organization, and ensure their business processes are aligned to their company’s goals and vision.
Process documentation can help streamline processes to save time and money, eliminate duplication of effort, provide clarity on roles and responsibilities, and help the company operate more efficiently.
The 4 Ds of Successful Process Documentation
Now that we know why process documentation is important, below are some tips and best practices for how to document your processes successfully.
Companies might think about documenting their processes, but only after encountering an issue that could have been solved by doing so. The solution to this is to document processes early.
As you build a new business, or are creating new positions at an existing business, take time to think about the roles and responsibilities required of each position, not just as a high level, but what the position would need to do on a day-to-day basis. For existing roles, it can be helpful to brainstorm with those currently filling the position and document what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and whether it’s aligned with the company’s vision.
Even if the documentation isn’t perfect, and goes through changes as your company grows, having some kind of documentation to refer back to is better than having to start from scratch.
If possible, you want to be able to regularly update process documents, with critical ones being updated more frequently. It’s important that you don’t let too much time go by between reviews and updates of critical process documents because they greatly impact the most important operations of your company.
As your business grows, you may drastically alter your processes to the point that older documents are quite outdated, making onboarding new workers a challenge. Setting up regular process document review sessions can help alleviate that problem. Depending on how stable your processes are, you may wish to schedule update sessions monthly, quarterly, or annually.
Another important thing to consider when documenting your processes is the quality level of that documentation. While writing something down is usually better than having no documentation at all, you usually get what you pay for in terms of time and thought investment. Putting extra effort into clearly documenting your processes, and reviewing them with workers so that you can ensure they are understood, pays off massively as time goes on.
This also helps when it’s time to refer back to older processes in order to update them, because it will likely take less time to understand the process and make those updates due to the extra time invested in documenting them originally.
Document The Right Processes
This is important for small businesses that don’t have time to waste. You may not have the resources to document every single process you do, so it’s important to focus on the ones that are most important. Things to consider when choosing the right processes to document are:
- Is this process critical to the organization’s success?
- Does it exist only in someone’s mind?
- If the person utilizing that process were gone tomorrow, would your company be unable to continue that process?
If the answer is yes to any or all these questions, chances are you want to document that process so it can be reviewed, streamlined, and stored somewhere that can be utilized as changes happen at the company.
Positive Results™ is a training development and cloud solutions company that helps organizations by analyzing their business processes and customizing training and tools to solve for any gaps we find.
We believe in the value of Process Documentation because it helps companies to understand the gaps in their business processes, and how training and tools can fill those gaps. Without clearly documented processes, there is ambiguity about what people think is being done, what is actually being done, and what leadership determines should be done. Well documented processes eliminate that ambiguity and help pave the way towards clarity and understanding.
If you have additional questions or need support, contact us at:
Positive Results™ Custom Business Solutions