Documenting processes and procedures can seem like a daunting task; however, capturing knowledge is essential if you are ever going to have a sustainable business that can run efficiently and effectively without you.
It isn’t too challenging to capture processes and procedures, but it does take some time. The pay off is worth it though because it will help determine the effectiveness of the process, highlight where improvements can be made, and it can be delegated to someone else.
Having a process to capture processes will help to get the job done quickly. Follow these steps to make capturing processes easy and enjoyable. Any team member can replicate this process by following this step by step guide.
Step 1 – Define the name and purpose
Write the name of the process. Use names that clearly explain what the process is — for example, Opening Procedure or How to Open the Shop or Opening Checklist.
Step 2 – Define the purpose statement
It’s important to write why something is done so that it has meaning. Why is this process necessary? What is the purpose?
Step 3 – Include the process boundaries
Boundaries include when the process starts and when it ends. What is the trigger for the process to start? How do you know when the process is complete?
Step 4 – The description
Write a brief description or overview of the process
Step 5 – Define the process owner
The owner is the role who is responsible for the process or procedure. Always use the name of the role as opposed to the staff members name. Team members come and go, but roles rarely change. List any other role that may play a part in the process.
Step 6 – List resources
List any resources that are required to carry out the process including equipment, supplies, software, links etc.
Step 7 – Define the outcome
What is produced by the process, or what is the expected result?
Step 8 – Select the best method to capture the process
With modern technology, you are only limited by your imagination. Try to mix different methods of capturing processes.
- Screen recording
- Audio recording
- Text and images
- Workflow diagram
When selecting the best method for capturing the process, consider WHAT you are documenting, WHO will be reading and using the process, WHERE they will be using it, and HOW will they access it.
For example, an exact procedure such as how to store glass capsules in a drawer is easier to explain by either video or photos to avoid confusion and shows the desired result.
An apprentice technician wanting to know how to change over a panel on an air conditioner could access a short video tutorial on an iPad.
A new receptionist may require a printed checklist on the desk to show how to transfer a call.
Record a 30-second screencast showing how to enter new client details into a CRM program.
A written step by step procedure with some images could explain how to order a courier and prepare a package for delivery with contact phone numbers and pick up times.
Step 9 – Gather equipment for video
If you are recording video, use a good phone camera or video camera and invest in a good microphone such as a lapel microphone is you are demonstrating something. Always do a test video to make sure that sound and video quality are acceptable. Work out how you will transfer the video to your operations manual.
For screencasting, use an app such as Loom. Most screencasting apps will create a link to the video so you can add this directly into your process, embed the video and even collaborate.
Step 10 – Assign the task of capturing the process
Not all processes should be written by the business owner; in fact, most of them shouldn’t. The task to capture the process should be assigned to the process owner or to the department head who can delegate to the right process owner or to someone in the business who can produce the result. Remember to set a due date and follow up on progress. Make sure you train all team members who have been assigned process capturing tasks in this process, give them a copy of this guide along with a copy of my Process Documentation Preparation Form.
Capture The Process
Step 1 – Outline the process
Outline the process with WHAT you do, step by step – no details at this stage, state what needs to be done to get the process from start to finish. Start with a verb, for example, sign agreement, assign a due date, report an incident, approve the request. If you are using video, your outline will be your guide for the points you want to cover. Remember not to make the recordings too long. Try to keep within 5 – 7 minutes. If you need longer, break up the contents into shorter videos. Sticky notes can work well for this step. Write one step for each note.
Step 2 – Fill in the details
Go back to the beginning of your outline, fill in the details. Describe the HOW of the process. Document to the detail that is necessary to obtain the result. Only add relevant detail, make the process too long, and people won’t read it all, make it too short, and you won’t get the desired result.
Step 3 – Process flow
If you haven’t already, put each step into the sequence so that the process flows. Remember to include decision points as you build the sequences of the process. If this happens, then that.
Step 4 – Use consistent formatting and design
The design and layout are important so that the documentation looks professional and is easily recognisable from other types of company documentation. Whichever method you choose, make the written part consistent. Always use the same font, line spacing, headers etc. Consider using a template if your processes are not being uploaded into an online process management portal.
Step 5 – Add supporting notes and resources
Even if you are capturing your process with video, it’s a good idea to have supporting notes or a checklist that provides a simple overview. If the process requires resources, add these such as links, templates, forms, file paths and attachments.
Step 6 – Write and speak in everyday language
The goal is for anyone with some basic understanding of your business to be able to complete the process by reading, watching or listening. Write in a clear tone, do not use over-complicated words or jargon unless it is necessary. If you are recording your voice, speak clearly but keep it natural. Don’t try to be perfect. The key is to have your outline somewhere visible to that you don’t forget any vital information
Review The Process
Step 1 – Check and improve
Read through the process or watch the video recording and check that everything required to complete the process has been included. Do the boundaries that were set for the process, match what has been documented? Check spelling, grammar and the formatting. Add any improvements where you can or highlight inefficiencies that you can bring up for discussion later.
Step 2 – Get another set of eyes on the process
Have somebody look over the process that who isn’t usually involved in the process to test their understanding. Get feedback to ascertain if the process can be followed, and does it have enough detail or not enough.
Step 3 – Review by management
Decide within the business who will make the final process documentation approvals. If necessary, have a group meeting to discuss the process with all relevant parties.
Step 4 – Make additional improvements based on feedback
Based on the feedback from other team members and management, make any recommended changes and update the documentation. If you have made videos or screencasts, avoid re-recording by adding supporting notes if further clarification is needed.
Step 5 – Perform the final test
The final test of the process is to teach the process to someone who is not familiar with the process. Any misunderstanding or missing parts will come to light while teaching. Use the training technique of 1) teach the process, 2) do the process together, then 3) allow them to follow and complete the process by themselves.
Step 6 – Get approval to publish
Once all the changes and improvements have been made to the process, it’s time to get the final approval from management. Now the process is ready to be published in your operations manual.
Most owners keep their knowledge in their head. In order to set up repeatable and reliable systems, you have to get the knowledge out of your head and into a format that your team can understand, follow and help you improve. You need to define the most critical activities in your business, who is responsible for carrying them out and how should they be done each time. When you can achieve this, you can delegate which frees you up to do more of the strategic work of the business. The time invested in documented these processes and procedures will have a big pay off as you continue to grow. Without documented systems, you will always be a slave to the business.
Another benefit to having everything documented into an operations manual is the added value to your business. If you decide to sell in the future, a systemised business is far more attractive than a business that runs from inside the owners head.
Need your systems documented but don’t want to do it all yourself? If you would like to know more about how to simplify and systemise your business to free up time without losing control, book a call and let’s talk.