Business process documentation helps optimize workflows by providing a detailed roadmap for team members to follow. Learn more about the importance of creating process docs and how they can benefit your team. A process document is a working document that outlines all the steps and tasks that need to be completed for a particular task or process. Process documentation involves keeping detailed process steps in a centralized location that all stakeholders can easily access to ensure a streamlined workflow. This is an integral part of optimizing current processes and implementing new ones. Process documentation is especially useful for maintaining process knowledge. When an employee leaves a company, having a strong knowledge base can save team members a time when onboarding and training a new hire.
When it comes to establishing a system for process documentation, you don’t have to start from scratch—there are many process documentation templates available online. These templates often include process flowcharts, headings, and swimlanes (a visual showing which teams are responsible for which steps). Using a process documentation tool can save time and offer a helpful starting point that can be further customized based on how your team works.
Why Is Process Documentation Important?
Business process management is fraught with potential obstacles. Bottlenecks and poor communication cause inefficiencies that disrupt process flows and hinder progress. Process documentation allows for real-time brainstorming sessions to take place between employees to streamline problem-solving, improve efficiency, and also effectively communicate process knowledge to all key stakeholders, including new employees.
3 Benefits of Process Documentation
There are several notable benefits to setting up a process document.
- Process documentation reduces the margin for error. Process documents provide a clear roadmap for success by detailing the goals, stakeholders, and process steps. Such clear communication reduces the margin of error, as all team members know who is their tasks and timelines and who to check in with regarding other steps.
- Process documentation saves time. By keeping all critical information in a centralized location, team members can spend less time in coordination meetings and more time working on their part of the process. In addition, setting up a process automation system can save time for project managers who no longer need to dedicate time keeping track of individual tasks and timelines.
- Process documentation optimizes communication. Clearer and detailed communication documents optimize standard operating procedures (SOPs) and ensure that process maps align with strategic goals.
How to Create a Process Document
It’s important for your project team to know how to set up a process document. Consider these tips for establishing process documentation.
- Establish the scope of the process. Start by identifying the goals, stakeholders, timelines, and priorities of the process. What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) your process is trying to achieve?
- Determine process boundaries. Process boundaries establish the start and end of the process, as well as who is responsible for each step. At this stage, choose one person to be the process owner. This team member will ultimately be responsible for keeping an eye on key metrics that will assure the process is a success.
- Determine process inputs and outputs. Process inputs are the resources needed to complete the process. Process outputs are the results or deliverables associated with each step of the process. Consider what you’ll need to be successful, as well as what each step will yield.
- Pinpoint process steps. Gather team members for a brainstorming session to break down each step of the process into an exhaustive list of tasks.
- Delegate tasks to stakeholders. Assign tasks to team members. Include any relevant details such as deliverables and timelines. Make sure team members have any additional context and information that they may need, such as style guides or company guidelines.
- Draw a process flowchart. Good process documentation includes visual representation. You can accomplish this by drawing a flow chart that clearly details each step of the process. The flowchart should consist of the inputs, process steps, outputs, and relevant information for each stakeholder. You can also use a process documentation tool or template.
- Identify bottlenecks. Not all process steps will operate in exactly the same way. Look for inefficiencies and redundancies could slow things down and create exceptions in order to eliminate them.
- Test the process. Set the process in motion and monitor its progress. The process owner should keep track of key metrics and measure whether or not the process is running smoothly.