What if you had to teach a cooking team the basics of preparing an omelet? There needs to be more than the list of ingredients. You need a full recipe that outlines the final outcome, the people involved, and the steps to follow. After following the recipe a few times, those making them get the hang of things and don’t require the documentation, but it always helps to have it written down in case you want to refer to it, or if someone else also wants to make an omelet.
The same thinking applies to creating work; people need recipes to complete tasks efficiently. Outside the kitchen, these recipes are called processes and we are strong advocates for documenting these, much like writing down a recipe.
Process Documentation: Why do you need it?
Here are a few reasons why we believe all teams and companies should prioritize process documentation:
Process documentation brings people up to speed quickly through clear, step-by-step instructions,
Documented processes reduce the error rate and lead to higher-quality work
It enhances collaboration by clarifying task ownership and accountability among teams,
It improves team efficiency by making better use of available tools and resources in the company, and
It increases productivity by removing process-related obstacles such as miscommunication, missing tools/templates, etc…
How to document processes effectively
To document processes clearly and efficiently, they need to be structured with clear objectives, owners, and deadlines. In this article, we outline 6 steps that lead to a documented process.
Step 1: Identify what process needs documentation
First, pinpoint the process that requires documentation. Consider tasks that are frequently repeated. Is there a standardized process that exists and is it documented? Next, focus on identifying issues associated with this process. What hurdles do you face in achieving it?
Answering these questions helps you identify the gaps in your current system, and the specific tasks and activities that should be compiled as a documented process.
Step 2: Design the Process
The next step is to design the process by listing all relevant ingredients:
Objective: What are you trying to achieve from this process? For example, is it developing a new product?
Process Guardian: Who is the go-to person that’s accountable for applying this process in the company, ensuring everyone adheres to it, and updating it as needed?
Phases: How many phases constitute the process and what are they? Processes, especially longer ones, can usually be broken down into several phases. For example, the product development process typically involves several phases, including ideation, research, design, prototyping, testing, and launch.
Tasks: What are the tasks to be followed in this process and how to perform them?
People: Who is accountable for executing each task?
Time limit: Here is where you mention the SLA of each task. Within what time should the task be completed? What happens if it doesn’t get done?
Tools & Resources: What are some useful tools, templates, and resources that help people achieve their tasks?
Deliverables: What is the outcome of each task? Is it a marketing plan, invoice, vendor sheet, etc…?
Step 3: Document the process
Document the full recipe by elaborating on the detailed process with its different steps, resources, and actions on a shareable document for everyone to have access to it.
Step 4: Implement
Now it’s time to test the recipe in the kitchen. Explain the process to the team, share the documentation and necessary resources, put it into practice, and ask the team to follow it step by step.
Step 5: Question and Monitor
As people are trying your recipe, collect their feedback. Track and question the different phases and tasks of the process. Run retrospectives and collect feedback from people involved in the process. It may seem counterintuitive but at Cosmic Centaurs, we love making the devil's advocates on the team part of the process. Invite them to question the process. Document what you will do differently, and improve your process.
Step 6: Iterate
Processes are not set in stone. They need to be fluid and dynamic and they should answer the needs of the teams implementing them. Build a habit of regular monitoring and continuously improve your process.
Documenting processes is not a one-time job. Keep an eye out for changes in the company structure, teams, and ways of working, and update your recipes accordingly.
For more support on process documentation, book a 1-on-1 consultation with us today.