Tip of the Week: Do Yourself a Favor, Document Your Processes
The average business has a lot of internal processes, and these processes are typically pretty concrete: to accomplish this task, follow steps A, B, and C, in that order. However, due to the sheer volume of processes like these, it helps to have these processes documented for the benefit of your future employees... and, if we’re being honest, your future self. For this week’s tip, we’ll go over the proper process for documenting a task.
Let’s face it, if your business operates anything like most do, you have far too many of these processes for anyone to reasonably remember. This means that making sure that your processes are both comprehensively recorded and accessible for your employees to reference is a crucial facet to your productivity.
Fortunately, doing so is relatively simple, as long as you go about it properly.
Step One: Identify What You’re Documenting
The important thing to remember about creating documentation is that, unless the task itself is incredibly granular, making the documentation too specific isn’t going to help anyone. On the flip side, any documentation that is too vague isn’t likely to provide anyone with the value that it should.
You need to store your documentation in a centralized place that all employees can access. It helps even more if there is a system in place to allow you to search the contents of each document, sort them in various ways, and highlight changes and edits made to processes. In other words, utilizing a document management system or a knowledge center of some kind will go a long way in preserving the functionality of your processes. There are plenty of tools and applications out there for this, and we can help you choose the best one for your situation based on your specific needs.
Step Two: DIARI (Do It And Record It)
This step will form the basic shape of your documentation, as it will create a step-by-step guide to completing the task as a whole. You’ll need to go through a run-through of the process you’re trying to document, recording every step you take.
Don’t be shy about including details, either. For instance, if your process will require the same questions to be asked each time it is put into action, include the list of questions in your documentation. If someone is supposed to be contacted specifically, identify them in your documentation and provide their contact information.
From here, you should have a pretty good handle on how the process typically goes down… and the insights to make it even better.
Step Three: Refine, Repeat, Revise
When you were running through your process, were there any steps that would have made more sense to do earlier so you could be better prepared for a later responsibility? Try rearranging the steps in your documentation and trying it again. Did it work better, or worse? Take these observations into account and act accordingly.
Really, once you commit the time to doing it properly, creating invaluable and useful documentation isn’t that difficult of a process. You can even bring multimedia into it, if it’s a good fit, using tools like Steps Recorder on Windows.
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