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Introductory guide to process documentation- Document360

Introductory guide to process documentation

Introductory guide to process documentation

Last updated on Dec 14, 2021

As your business grows, it becomes more and more necessary to write things down. Any size organization has processes that need to be documented with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). You can’t rely on your employees’ memories to correctly execute a process every time – the information for how to complete the task has to be written down somewhere that is easily accessible by your workforce.

What is process documentation?

Process documentation is a detailed description of the steps necessary to complete a task or process from start to finish. A business is essentially a collection of different processes that need to be performed in the same way over and over again. The success of these processes is tightly related to the success of the business as a whole.

Documentation is concerned with the “how” of a process being implemented rather than the impact of the process. If your processes are documented then they can be easily referenced by employees and managers responsible for carrying them out.

Process documentation in flow chart format


Why you need process documentation?

Many companies come up with excuses for why they don’t need process documentation. They think it’s a waste of time, or too constrictive. It feels too corporate or bureaucratic, or you don’t want to spend time documenting processes that might change in the near future.

But here’s why process documentation is essential for your business:
When it comes to creating a process or refining an existing one, there’s no better way to go about it than to document.

Process documentation and SOPs provides a bird’s-eye view of the process, allowing managers and senior leaders to see how they can create more efficiencies in the business.

When you hire new employees, they can learn from your process documentation and get up to speed faster rather than taking up their manager’s valuable time.

Process documentation and SOPs clearly outlines who is responsible for a process and removes ambiguity from the workplace.

Vital knowledge is preserved for the future so when one of your key employees leave they don’t take the knowledge of the process with them.

As you can see, process documentation is crucial for your business’s operations.

Benefits of process documentation

Process documentation and SOPs has many benefits. It saves you time and money by documenting processes because employees aren’t reinventing the wheel every time. You also reduce the chance of errors occurring in your organization when employees implement processes incorrectly.

Creating a standard operating procedure is an essential part of a flourishing business and process documentation enables you to achieve this. It’s much better if a process is repeated in the exact same way every time and avoids being haphazard as employees guess at the steps needed to complete it.

When you document a process, you see exactly the steps that employees need to take to complete and this highlights inefficiencies. Managers can improve their processes with documentation and make the workplace more productive.

process breakdown in flow chart format

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How to write process documentation?

Here’s how to write process documentation in ten steps.

1. Name the process
You need to clearly define the process you are going to document first of all. Outline the process’s purpose – the ways in which the process will benefit the business – and briefly describe the process.

2. Determine the scope of the process

Clearly explain what will be the desired outcome of the process and the resources that are needed to carry it out successfully. Define what is outside the scope of the process.

3. Detail the process boundaries

Decide where the process starts and finishes. In what situation is the process likely to be started, and how will you know when the process is complete?

4. Pinpoint the process outputs

Find out what will be produced by the process or what the end result will be when it is completed.

5. Figure out the process steps

Collect everything you can on the process from beginning to end. You can either begin with whatever step launches the process or work your way backwards from the end point. Work closely with the team members who are responsible for the process or someone with detailed knowledge of the process.

6. Put your process steps in order

Gather your process steps and put them in sequential order to come up with a process flow. Try to have as few steps as possible in your process documentation.

Steps in process documentation - Document360

7. Identify the individuals involved

Describe the individuals who will be involved in your process and be sure to use job titles rather than names.

8. Visually represent your process

Using a flowchart is a good way to present your documentation to your audience. Collating your process steps into a flowchart improves the clarity and readability of your documentation.

9. Highlight exceptions to the process

There are times when the process may deviate from what is expected. State these exceptions for your audience and include what steps will be taken to respond to the situation.

10. Get feedback on the process

Gather together everyone who is involved in the process and get them to test your process documentation. Are there any steps missing or is your documentation confusing? Revise your documentation as necessary.

Also Read: Create Stunning User Documentation Using Online Documentation Tool

Process documentation best practices

So now you know how to write process documentation and SOPs, there are several best practices to keep in mind.

Make a style guide for the writers of your process documentation so content is standardized no matter who the author is.

In the same vein, create a template for your process documentation so writers don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they create a document.

Be as concise as possible – include only the most relevant information and keep it short and to the point.

Make your documentation public in the organization so it is available to all employees.

Store your documentation in a centralized location using knowledge base software such as Document360.

Ensure your documentation is easy to edit since processes are always changing and feedback is vital to the accuracy of the document.

Make sure each process is documented separately rather than having one long document.

Incorporate flowcharts to make the documentation as easy to understand as possible, and consider other visuals such as screenshots and charts.

Also Read: Top 20 Software Documentation Tools

Final remarks

After reading this article you understand the importance of process documentation for your business. You can refine existing processes and come up with new ones, all the while improving productivity and efficiency for your employees.

Your business will certainly benefit from standardizing processes and you will no longer be at risk of losing crucial knowledge when employees leave your company. Documenting your processes means that you will have increased insight into the operations of your company and you’ll be in a better place to decide how to improve processes.

An intuitive SOP software to easily add your content and integrate it with any application. Give Document360 a try!

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Why SOP’s are required in an organization? For better understanding read on how we scaled up our business using standard operating procedures.