You might have heard the phrase ‘business process documentation’ used before, but what is it and why is it important? Should you be using it?
Perhaps you’ve thought about it but still find yourself on the fence, questioning whether it’s really necessary for your business. We want to help you understand the concept behind Business Process Documentation so you can decide whether it’s something which needs to be implemented in your business.
What is Business Process Documentation?
So, let’s start at the beginning: what is business process documentation? It begins with something called a process document – a document which outlines all the steps you need to complete a task or process. It can be any task, from adding a client to your company’s database to making a cup of tea…yes, really! The process document will outline, step-by-step, how to achieve your goal.
If you think about it, any business is simply a collection of different processes. Sending an email, for example, could be broken down into a clear-cut process. These processes interact and intersect and interrelate, leading to the overall workflow for your company. Most of the time, we don’t generally feel the need to document the steps, but it’s actually very useful to have these processes written down.
So, what does a process document look like?
Most of the time it looks like a regular flow chart. You start at the beginning and then work your way through a series of questions until you arrive at your goal. It seems simple but the system is surprisingly thorough.
Often, these documents are designed for internal use. They’re not meant to be seen by customers or clients. They’re not set in stone, either. If you have an update or a modification to be made to a process document, feel free to suggest the changes. As long as the process document describes the best way of achieving a goal, it’s served its purpose.
Why is it so Important?
That brings us neatly to the next common question: why is business process documentation so important? As we’ve mentioned above, everything you do at work can be described in terms of a process. But the vast majority of these are not written down. However, having a clear-cut, well-established, and meticulously followed process can be incredibly useful for a business.
Any process document is a map showing the ideal way in which to carry out any part of your job. For the company, it represents the best way in which to function. This could be the most efficient, the most reliable, the most productive, or the safest possible approach. It could be all of the above. The process represents the best agreed-upon way in which to carry out any task. If everyone’s following the same process, the business can perform as efficiently as possible.
Great business process documentation ensures consistency and reliability. It’s often very important to follow every step in a process. If you’re working from instinct or memory, it’s possible to miss an important step. With a process document, the chances of this happening are greatly reduced.
As a result, the business can function in a more efficient manner.
- Do you need to train up a new team member?
The process document instantly provides them with an insight into how the company functions.
- Is one of your team members leaving?
The process document ensures that any essential institutional knowledge is not lost with them.
- Do you want to make your company more productive?
The process document can be used to find and refine how the company functions.
By providing a template for how to carry out any task, process documentation can greatly improve any business’s ability to deliver reliable, well-organised, and effective assistance.
Who Should be Using Business Process Documentation?
When implemented correctly, business process documentation has so many benefits. It can prevent mistakes, improve efficiency, lower costs, improve resource allocation, save time, keep customers and employers happy, and improve the all-round quality of any business.
So, who should be using it? Well, we think everyone.
If you’re only just discovering the benefits of a well-implemented process document, there’s no time like the present to introduce the concept to your workplace. From the smallest to the biggest companies, having this structure in place can provide so many benefits.
Furthermore, it’s easy to implement. You’re probably already doing something similar right now. Do you and your employees ever sit down and discuss the best practices and approaches to carrying out a task? If you sit in the lunch room, for example, and chat to one another, you could already be forming the backbone of your business process documentation. All it takes is getting those ideas down on paper and you’re halfway there. What’s more, it’s possible to bring in professional help and advice to ensure your process documentation is robust, reliable, and ready to go.
Mistakes to Avoid
Just because something is easy, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. If you’ve ever tried to codify a process document before, you might have encountered a problem. There are a few common mistakes which you should be careful not to repeat.
From our own experience over the years, we’ve discovered a few golden rules:
- Don’t be afraid to changes things – one of the biggest advantages of a process document is that it can evolve at any time. If you think you see an error or a way to do something better, change it!
- Don’t be afraid of tech – the thing about many processes is that they’re never updated. Now that we live in an age of cloud computing and interconnectedness, you could replace three steps in your process with one simple technological innovation.
- Don’t be afraid to cut the red tape – if you’re putting together a process document, you might suddenly realise how much bureaucracy and red tape are involved in every decision or action. If you want to save time, feel free to cut out the wasted energy.
- Don’t be afraid of efficiency – given how closely tied business efficiency is to profit and success, you should welcome the chance to refine your process. Always keep efficiency at the forefront of your mind.
- Don’t be afraid to be strict – remember, the process is designed to be followed. It saves money and – in some workplaces – it can save lives. If someone isn’t following the process correctly, let them know.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – a process is often determined by making changes and making mistakes. If you alter the process and it doesn’t work, you can always change it back. If you keep making the same mistakes, you know what needs to be addressed. Treat mistakes as a learning tool.
- Don’t be afraid to think about the context – everyone uses processes different. From company to company, process documents will be employed in different ways. Think about how your employees will be using process documents. You can often provide hardcopies, software solutions, cloud solutions, and training to make sure the processes are available to everyone, no matter the context.
One of the big benefits of well-managed process documentation is its ability to deal with mistakes. When you’re setting up your process, treat the enterprise as a learning curve and you’ll notice how quickly you and your workplace improves as a result.
Get Started With Business Process Documentation
By now, you’re probably asking, “how do I get started with business process documentation?” That’s a great question and, luckily for you, we have the answer.
Like all great ideas, business process documentation should start with a conversation. Discuss the matter with people in your workplace and you’ll probably find that there’s an unofficial shared knowledge that seems a lot like a process document. The tricky thing is knowing how to turn this collective wisdom into an official document.
That’s where companies like Infinity Loop come in. Continuing the conversation with us can help create an organised, thorough collection of process documents. With the right professional assistance, it’s relatively simple and the upsides for your company, in terms of improved efficiency alone, are huge. If you’d like to get started with business process documentation, get in touch with us today and see what we can do to help you and your business.