So I know most of you will be rolling your eyes at the thought of having to document your processes. I get it, its not sexy, or fun, and you probably don’t have the time or energy for it. But the benefits of having clearly documented processes far outweigh the pain of putting them in place!
Why you should document your processes
1 – You don’t waste time and brain power remembering what to do and how to do it
This is especially valuable for those tasks you don’t do all the time… Having a clearly documented way of doing things means that you do not have to try and remember how you’re supposed to do it, faff around in the system for a while trying to work out where that thing is you need, or have a brain melt down trying to figure it all out from scratch again. You just open your process document and follow the steps. Easy peasy!
2 – You don’t forget or miss any steps
Following on from number 1, because you’re always following the same process you don’t inadvertently forget any steps.
3 – Its done consistently every single time
This one is kind of a no brainer after 1 and 2. But if you’re following a process then the task is done consistently every single time. And consistent process = consistent results.
4 – Having a consistent process provides a solid foundation for making improvements
Knowing how your process works, means you can review and refine it from time to time to make it work even better. But if you don’t have that consistent foundation to start with its really difficult to know what’s working and what’s not. You can read more about continuous improvement here.
5 – You can hand over the task to someone else
And last but not least, my favourite reason of all. If you have a clearly documented process that steps someone through what needs to be done, and how to do it, you can easily hand it over to someone else to do for you. One of the key success factors for delegating tasks to someone else is being clear on what needs to be done, and your expectations.
So how do you go about documenting your processes?
Start with the ‘WHAT’
- Define the purpose – what is the purpose of this process? why are you doing it?
- Frequency – Daily, Weekly, Monthly or adhoc?
- Responsible – Who is responsible for getting this done?
- Trigger – What triggers the start of this process? Is it a specific date or time, an action by someone e.g. a client booking a new appointment, or is it triggered by another process being completed?
- What are the inputs? – What information, forms, etc are inputted into the process and who supplies them?
- What are the steps in the process?
List out all the main steps of the process – for now don’t worry about the ‘how’, just focus on the ‘what’ needs to be done
- What are the outputs of the process? A completed newsletter, a published blog post, and edited video
- Who are the customers or the recipients of the outputs? Your mailing list, your blog readers
Then do the ‘HOW’
Step one outlines what needs to be done. This step drills into the detail of each step and explains how it needs to be done.
Firstly, think about the audience, who will be using this information. Also consider the level of complexity of the task. This will help you determine the best way to create your documentation.
Some options include:
- An Asana checklist
- A document that steps you through the process
- A process flow diagram
- A video how to guide (hint: you can do this using Zoom. Just share your screen and record a quick video of you doing the task and talking through it at the same time).
I believe a mix of written and video is a great way to go because it caters for differing learning styles, confidence with different applications, and potential language barriers.
Pulling it all together
Once you have the process and the how to, you can pull it all together in your operations manual. I like to do this in Asana, but it depends on how you manage your business operations. For my regular recurring business tasks, I have them setup in Asana as recurring tasks. Within each task is a link to the ‘how to’, so its easily accessible when I am completing the task, I don’t have to go looking for it. The task has sub-tasks that outline the key steps of the process, so I can tick them off as they’re done. Often I may start something one day, and then come back to it at another time. So this approach helps me keep track of where I am at.
If you’d like a copy of my process template and to see an example of how I use it in my business enter your details below and I’ll email you a copy.