Process Documentation: A Review
Want to improve the way you’re doing something? Document how you’re doing it right now.
Contributor: Deidre Ellis, NCG Business Consultant Analyst
Company Process Documentation is a critical activity you may have overlooked in your business. Defined simply, a process document is a visual or written outline of the steps to execute a process or system. A Company/Contractor Process Document is a written or visual guide, a living document, of what happens in the business from the time a lead makes contact with the company, through the sale, completion of project, and payment….and everything in between, including the people, the tools and the decision points. It’s a 10,000 ft view of how a business generates revenue.
You might be thinking, “Why do we need this? Everyone knows what they need to do.” Whether you feel like things could be better or your business is running more smoothly than it ever has, are you sure that everyone in your business is on the same page? You may have a full understanding of what goes into the work of the work, but does your team?
Knowledge is key. The larger your business gets and the more skilled your staff is, it’s less likely everyone knows exactly what goes into what each person does and how it relates to what they do. Having an overview, to how you consistently get things done, is a priceless reference for existing team members and a training tool for new ones. It gives everyone the full picture and their part in it.
The players change. Turnover is a given and, in light of current events with COVID-19, abrupt absences for illness and/or reducing your team may be inevitable. Along with naming the steps, this document includes the people or roles that make it happen. With the awareness of responsibilities for specific critical points in your process, you can more quickly pivot for the planned or the unexpected, to maintain consistency for your customer and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Efficiency and improvement are always the goal. Change is inevitable. Examining your current process and the tools you use, sheds light on where improvements could be made. Are you using paper when you could be using an app or software to share production information with your team in real time? New technologies are available every day. Are certain items falling through the cracks or are there delays? It’s much easier to home in on the true issue if you can ask first…. “Is our process being followed?” and then, “What needs to change?”.
Documenting your Company Process is a team effort. It usually takes a 3-4 hour meeting to take down all the steps in your process and about the same amount of time afterward for one person to assemble it into a document or flow chart for review.
Steps to Get Started:
- Assemble your documentation team – ideally the people involved should represent each department in your company. For example: sales, client services, human resources, operations/field, bookkeeping.
- Gather materials. Post-its, markers and flip chart paper (or a big white wall/whiteboard) should do.
- Schedule a 3-4 hour meeting. Each person will outline their steps in the process and one person will be responsible for writing the steps out and posting them on the wall. Keep in mind that this is your process as is. Place judgements and suggested improvements in a “parking lot” to be discussed later.
- Afterward, one person assembles the information into a document and/or flowchart to share.
What do I do with it when it’s done? Share it with the team. This is your company’s way. Have a full team meeting, send it out and keep it where everyone can access it. Solicit improvements and feedback on changes needed or issues in the process. Finally, have a small group review it annually for changes. It was a team effort to create it and it will be a team effort to keep it alive.
At Nolan Consulting Group, we consider documenting your process and sharing it with your team to be a crucial step in getting you, the business owner, out of the hourglass!
Interested in learning more? Listen to our conversation on this topic with myself & NCG Coach Kathryn Freeman, on our podcast channel, Out of the Hourglass!
All the Best!