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How to Document Your Processes, a Step-by-Step Guide

January 20, 2021

By: SEOHive

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If you’re lucky, your business will grow over time. You’ll be juggling more work and more employees. If you could take a simple step now that will help your growth go smoother and with fewer problems — would you take it?

Most of us would take any preventative measures we could to ensure that our companies have the best foundation for growth.

Process documentation provides a uniform method of completing any business process. 

No matter if your business is large or small, any repeated action should have documentation describing how to complete specific activities to perform a job. This is crucially important in software, website maintenance and design, and IT. 

If you’re looking to create or even update your business processes, check out our guide below to help you make your operations more efficient and cost-effective.

Why Should I Create Process Documentation?

Process documentation is critical to the success of your business. It provides a foundation for employees to understand their job and train new team members. 

When you document your processes, you will:

  1. Improve processes - When analyzing how a task is performed, you can find areas to avoid redundant steps and inefficiencies slowing down productivity.
  2. Train employees - Having a clear step-by-step process document avoids relying on multiple people to train who may not use the same steps to complete a task.
  3. Preserve company knowledge - By keeping a living record of your processes, newcomers can step in to replace someone leaving. This helps to cut down on transition time.
  4. Mitigate risk - Well-defined processes provide operational consistency. No matter who is completing a task, you can rest assured that the risk of errors is minimized.
  5. Secure patents and trade secrets - Detailed process documentation offers another layer of protection to keep your company information safe. 

Who is involved in process documentation

There are multiple stakeholders in creating documentation. These individuals are the Process Owner, Documentation Custodian, and Technical Writer.

Process Owner

This person defines the mission, goal, and success metrics for a successful process document. The process owner also monitors and suggests improvements to the process. Once a process is documented, they are responsible for enforcing these standards.

Documentation Custodian

The documentation custodian is responsible for keeping documents up-to-date, available for inspection, and maintain an accurate filing system. They also archive, store, and destroy obsolete documents.

Technical Writer

A technical writer collects the process information and creates written actions to complete a task. They ensure that processes are written in a clear and concise language. The technical writer also edits, updates, standardizes and makes changes to documents. 

These stakeholders are essential to planning, organizing, and creating your process documentation. Individuals selected to perform these roles can be from existing teams or a separate team explicitly designated for the tasks.  

Methodologies

There are three different methodologies for creating and documenting processes. Depending on your needs, you can select the method that works best for you.

Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

Using this method, you will create a visual representation of all interactions between your customer and each transaction's result. Following this method, you identify the value to the customer and how much the customer is willing to pay for the outcome. Create a flow chart of every step from the first contact to the end result.

Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN)

This is the most commonly used process mapping methodology. In this method, you map a process using symbols like circles, squares, arrows, etc., creating a total picture of a process flow. This is especially helpful for processes that have multiple outcomes depending on the action taken. 

Supplier, Input, Process, Output, and Customer (SIPOC)

This is a high-level process map that results in a very detailed document. Most commonly expressed as a table, it provides practical ways of understanding the phases of a process. 

To understand how this process works, you need to identify:

  • The Supplier - The individual who inputs the information to start a process
  • Input - Identify the specific data used to begin the process
  • Process - Document what is done with this information
  • Output - The result of the process
  • Customer - The individual that receives the processed information at the end of the transaction

Document Your Processes in 5 Steps

Step 1: Collecting Information

Identify what people do to be as specific as possible. Learn how they do it, the steps they take to complete the process, how long it takes, and the resources they need. The best way to do this is to interview the person performing the job, observe, and write it down.

Step 2: Create Boundaries

Identify when and where a process starts and ends. Find any triggers or activities that begin the process and record the final output. If a process has more than one final outcome, make sure to map them out and determine all results.

Step 3: Suppliers and Customers

Identify the key people who interact with a process. In addition to the team responsible for the process, there are also suppliers and customers. A supplier is someone who triggers the start of the process. 

The customer is someone who receives the outcome. For example, in an HR process, the supplier is the HR representative taking the application, and the customer is the person applying and interviewing.

Step 4: List and Order Actions

List the steps from beginning to end. The best practice is to start with an action verb (fill out, type in, etc.) and then describe each action or task. You can stay high-level or be as specific as needed. 

Step 5: Review and Optimize

Once you’ve created the flowchart of the process, review it and look at where you may be able to make it more efficient. Interview the person completing the process and see if they are following the process as it is written, see if there are steps they may skip or that need to be repeated multiple times. 

Documenting your processes helps identify pain points that are holding up productivity. You can streamline efficiency and create a solid plan for employees to follow. By creating a measured outcome, you can evaluate performance based on specific metrics. Employees can feel secure in understanding their job function and the results they provide. 

Integrating Your Process Documentation

Following your own process should be simple. When you’re dealing with multiple WordPress sites, ensuring that your processes are documented and readily available is crucial to maintaining your workflow. After all, creating your documentation is supposed to streamline your processes, not take you out of them!

Docket WP helps you do just that. Docket WP is a lightweight plugin that allows you to easily store and access your  processes and to-do’s without leaving your dashboard. Having your processes accessible from your dashboard will help you finish jobs faster, make fewer mistakes, and become more profitable.

See results instantly by importing prebuilt lists, or customize your own and save to your personal cloud library. Watch the demo right now and see what the fuss is all about and start your free trial today to consolidate your processes into one easy-to-use platform that works right where you do.

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