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A Guide to

Documenting Processes

for Small Business

Guide to Documenting Processes

 

What is the purpose of documenting processes?

Whether you are an entrepreneur or running a small business, documenting processes is essential for your business growth. Without them, all of the elements that work together to run your business can become inconsistent, time consuming, out of your zone of expertise, incorrect, lost or just left for you to do everything!
Documenting processes involves
  • getting clear on the process
  • documenting the process by video, text, checklist, task etc
  • outlining how to do it, so that anyone could see it and complete the task
  • managing the processes in one place, where each process is easy to find, and easy to update

Do I need a process map?

Process mapping is a visual representation of the steps involved in completing the process. It’s usually set up to assess efficiency and create a high level of clarity.
Process maps form the first part of documenting the overall process. The visual model helps me understand your process, and provides everyone with a clear idea of each step.
Process models only contain the workflow steps, not the detailed information contained in process documentation – but the overview is a great place to start.

Benefits of Documenting Processes

As a small business owner that has transitioned from entrepreneur to small business owner, I know first hand the bottleneck I can create if I do everything myself.
I also observed that not all of the tasks I need to complete in my business are tasks that I am very good at, nor enjoy!
Simply put, my business would not be able to grow if I continued in this way.
Additionally, keeping all of the tasks in my head is a risk. My business would not survive if I became sick. burnt out or take a holiday if everything stays with me.
Similarly, these risks are the same for any small business.

Top 5 reasons why documenting your processes is essential for your business growth

#1 Reducing errors

With processes documented, you have the ability to maintain quality service for your clients by providing training materials and references for your team so that each client receives a consistent service.

 

#2 You and your team will save time.

Without documented processes, your team will need answers to questions every day, which means they are using your time, but also theirs. They also feel less confident in their role, and less able to work competently and grow individually.

 

#3 With your processes documented, you have a fantastic business asset that remains regardless of who is in your team. You no longer lose information when you lose a team member, and the risk is reduced.

 

#4 Effective communication

Without clear processes your team might be asking questions, not informing others that the next step is ready, and generally holding up work.

 

#5 Better Productivity

If you or your team are ‘reinventing the wheel’ each time you complete a workflow or process, then you’re missing an opportunity to improve it. When a process is repeated often, you can do it faster and you can add to it. This is a low cost streamlining exercise that can save your business so much money!

How to document a process

  1. Create a Process Inventory, to identify the processes you have, and the processes you need to create. This becomes your Master List of Processes
  2. Create a process template so your processes are consistent
  3. Select an easy process to get started #quickwin
  4. Gather your stakeholders and start to plot the main steps
  5. Important questions to ask:
    – What is the trigger for this process?
    – What is the input and output required?
    – Who is involved in completing this or responsible for it?
    – How do you know it’s complete
  6. Document each of the steps into your process template, including any sub tasks, checklists or supporting documents
  7. Test the process – or ask someone to test it for you
  8. Save it into your process inventory with a clear name

Tips for Documenting Processes

  1. Include key stakeholders in the process so that it can be improved on as you document it.
  2. Create a process map to collect the main steps, and use it as a guide with the other documentation (ie, steps, checklists, resources, videos)
  3. Write your processes like a ‘how to’
    Keep in mind that someone could pick it up and know how to complete it
    Use verbs so that it’s clear what the task is.
  4. Store your process so that everyone can see them and organised by category and clearly named.
  5. Keep them easy to update – online docs and short videos can work well, or process management software
  6. Use consistent document names throughout
  7. Try not to refer to people, but roles, so that the process remains relevant regardless of who’s completing it
  8. Schedule regular reviews in to your project management platform so that they stay up to date.
  9. Create a process for creating processes, so that you can capture new ones easily, using a template
  10. This ALWAYS takes longer than you think! Ask for help or allow extra time to work on this.

My Favourite Process Management Tools

ClickUp

Process Street

**These are affiliate links

Need help to get your processes documented?

I totally understand! It can be difficult to find the time to complete this.
I can offer services including:

– process mapping

– process documentation 
**involving 1:1 time with you or your team to extract everything they do

– process organisation consultation