By Yauhen Zaremba – Director of Demand Generation
Unless you’re the Velma of the office, you probably don’t want to deal with things like business process documentation. It sounds dull, we get it. But, just like brushing your teeth every day is good for your health, documenting your business processes, such as how to create purchase orders, is vital to the healthy functioning of your business.
Why? Because measuring and tracking your progress and performance requires some studious documentation. How will you know how well you’re doing if you don’t keep track? Or where to make some changes?
What is business process documentation & why should we care?
So, process documentation is the task of outlining all the specific steps in a work process and putting that information in a process document. This offers clear instructions to your colleagues about how to perform a task from start to finish.
Why is this important? Well, it’s a great resource for helping new members of the team to get acquainted with the lay of the land. It speeds up the onboarding process, and offers a resource that new hires can consult without having to ask their colleagues lots of questions about tools such as PandaDoc and Docusign all the time.
By writing out and specifying the exact steps an employee has to take in each individual task, you create a blueprint of the work that anyone can pick up and learn from, speeding up the onboarding process. And the more quickly a person can get used to a role, the faster they can finish their training and start adding value to the organisation.
It’s also a great resource to have in case the person who is usually responsible for that task is off sick, or on holiday, for a while. Then someone else can just jump in and do their task. When you have an organisation that’s overly dependent on specific individuals to run smoothly, you end up being beholden to those people.
This is not a great situation to be in as it creates an unhealthy and unsustainable power imbalance, and also makes it hard for those people to take a day off. When you document the processes from start to finish, it takes the burden off those people and empowers the rest of the team to carry on as usual.
Business process documentation is also great for transparency, which is especially important when it comes to adhering to local regulations and laws surrounding things like how you use and store data. By writing down your process, you can more easily check that you are not missing any crucial steps or accidentally breaking any local laws.
You can also use process documentation to prove to others that you are following the rules around things like small business loans.
If you wish to automate certain parts of your work, especially the more repetitive tasks that could quite easily be done by a computer, then documenting your business processes can help in that endeavour. Coders and programmers can use that information in order to tell the computer what it needs to do in different scenarios.
This usually ends up saving time that would otherwise be spent by your colleagues on repetitive, long tasks, freeing them up for more complex and interesting work, or just work that can’t easily be done by a computer.
So, documenting your processes makes your workplace ultra-agile, and gives everyone the possibility to help out with anything within the organisation if they need to. It makes your business more resilient to sudden changes, like people changing jobs or going on holiday and adds transparency to your processes, which helps with adhering to rules and regulations. Lastly, it also offers the possibility of automating particular tasks.
Tips for documenting your processes
There are a lot of ways to document your processes, and you should choose the method that suits your office best.
Your process documents can be in various formats, such as a basic checklist, a flowchart, a video tutorial – anything that helps people through a task, step by step. You could decide on the format as a team. The important thing is to make it as easy to understand and absorb the information as possible, so clarity is key.
If you decide to make a video, make sure it’s clear, includes subtitles where there is speech, and is not overly long to make it easier to absorb. If you make a flowchart or checklist, choose a font that is easy to read, and try to keep the structure as simple as possible.
You should regularly and consistently update your process documents to make sure that they are always relevant and usable. You don’t want to confuse people with information that’s no longer relevant to the company. This might involve updating contact details, information about delegating, where to get the best free electronic signature for your contracts, and any other improvements or changes around rules and regulations.
You could delegate someone in your team to be in charge of regularly updating the process documentation, and they could work with various members of your team to check if the information is correct.
Your process documents should be stored in a central location that is easy for anyone in the company to access. You can have online and offline copies, but just make sure that anyone working remotely is not at a disadvantage.
Process documentation might seem like an arduous process, but it greatly simplifies the process of onboarding new recruits, makes your office more agile, and helps show which areas can be automated. It also helps you to ensure that you are adhering to rules and regulations. And, if you’ve been at the job a long time, it can help you refresh your memory about processes you may not have had to do in a while.