All businesses are defined by daily processes to get the job done. What happens when these daily processes are done incorrectly or worse, not done at all? How do you achieve quality and consistency in your day-to-day operations time and time again?
To function at its best, your business needs to document processes. To help you learn why process documentation is vital to your success, let’s explore what effective process documentation is, technology’s place in process documentation in 2023, what processes to document, the benefits, and how you can get started.
What is Effective Process Documentation?
Effective process documentation is the act of documenting the steps involved in completing a task. And it is essential.
Document processes using one or a combination of:
- Process maps
- Policies and procedures
Provide your employees with an explanation of how a process should be completed by using effective process documentation through Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Process documentation allows areas of dreaded unknowns or vagueness to be rolled out in streamlined, step-by-step directives. When using Standard Operating Procedures, they allow for everything your employees need to know in just enough detail to perform a task. They are simple and concise and written in an easily digestible manner. Thus, Standard Operating Procedures can use a combination of the above-listed process documentation formats.
Technology and Effective Process Documentation
Some people are familiar with process documentation and Standard Operating Procedures; however, familiarity lies in the big paper manual found in an office storage cabinet. How much use it gets, no one knows. This is what we would call ineffective process documentation. As we enter 2023, let’s get up to date with the times and technology’s role in process documentation.
There are several digital tool options to build out your Standard Operating Procedures that can enhance their accessibility and use within your organization. To take a closer look at these tools, check out our other article, Top 10 Tools for Standard Operating Procedures.
Maintaining SOPs in a digital format will ensure they never get lost or damaged and also makes it much easier to keep them updated over time.
What Processes Do You Document?
When considering effective process documentation, it is important to consider the most frequently completed tasks. These are the very meat of your business operations and you need them to run smoothly and effectively day in and day out.
Some examples of processes to document:
- Employee Onboarding Checklist
- Sales Lead Handling Procedures
- Equipment Inspection and Maintenance
- Customer Complaint Handling
- Supply Management
- Workspace Cleaning and Sanitization
- Safety Protocols
Document processes that are special to you and your organization. Is there something special that you do in the industry that makes you stand out from the rest? You’ll want this documented.
Benefits of Effective Process Documentation
There are a plethora of benefits to taking the time to document your processes. Let’s take a look at some of the primary ways your business can use process documentation for success.
- Enhances consistency so no matter who completes the task that day, it is done the right way each time.
- Improves efficiency and quality through clear directions and no wasted time.
- Increases productivity by specifying who is responsible for a task, what steps need to be taken to complete the process, and how to perform it the right way each time.
- Preserves what makes you, you by ensuring everyone has access to process knowledge. Special business or industry knowledge is not only in a veteran employee’s mind or yours as the owner.
- Smooth employee onboarding and training by providing all new team members with an interactive tool to gain company knowledge quickly and know where to go when they have questions.
- Process improvement is a product of evaluating the details in process documents, which can help identify areas in need of clarity or efficiency.
- Increases profits through saved time, costs, and employee retention.
How to Create Effective Process Documentation
Identify the Process
Define the detailed process prior to providing steps to complete a given task. Title your process to set the tone so that the reader knows what is being discussed. This also makes it easier for your employees to quickly locate a specific process they need to refer to during their work day.
Once your process is identified, you’ll want to establish to who the task being outlined applies. Because this helps distinguish what job role would benefit most from this process documentation. At times, you will see this referred to as the scope. Simply bullet list or tag the job roles at the beginning. Significantly, don’t forget to ensure these employees have access to these processes!
Provide a Purpose
Following identification of the process and employees involved, elaborate on your identified process by providing a statement of purpose. The purpose can be one or two sentences that explain what the reader will gain from intaking the information. It gives the reason for doing the task and the desired results.
Organize the Steps
So now it is time to begin detailing the steps.
Use simple language in a neat format. The goal is that anyone can read the process documentation and understand how to complete the task from beginning to end. Break large processes down into smaller tasks. What does this do? You will see increased comprehension which minimizes the need for questions to be asked.
Many people today are visual learners. They might learn best using a combination of learning styles. Consequently, throughout your process documentation, use flowcharts, photos, and videos.
Strong visuals will reinforce written processes and cement thorough understanding.
Effective process documentation is undeniably the key to running a smooth, sustainable business over time. Additionally, it takes the headache out of your daily operations and onboarding. Solidify your organization’s success by achieving efficiency, consistency, and productivity. Let your documented processes work hard for you.
Ready to document your processes? Contact SOPHeroes today.