If you haven’t done it before, you might find documenting business processes to be very tedious. This task, however, is also very necessary, especially as your business grows.
Just think about all the business processes that have to occur every day to keep your company running. They might include, according to Simplicable:
- Information Technology
- Information Security
- Customer Service
- Asset Management
- Performance Management
The specific ways you carry out the day-to-day operations of your business will depend on your goals, of course, but the point is: there are a lot of things you need to do to keep your business running, not to mention flourishing!
At this point you might be thinking: okay, sure, but I know how to do all those things. I know how to run my company. I’ve been doing it for X number of years!
The question, though, is: do other people you work with know your company as well as you do? Remember, running a company is a team effort. The real reason to document your business process is so that others can help you achieve your goals: partners, stakeholders, employees, etc. Below are three reasons why you should be documenting your business processes and some potential consequences of not doing so.
Reason #1 For Documenting Business Processes: Avoiding Confusion
The first reason to document your business processes is to avoid confusion. No matter how your company is structured, whether it’s a small group of five people or a large corporation with multiple departments: your team will spend at least some of their time confused if you don’t have key processes written down.
This is never more true than when onboarding a new team member, which is an essential activity if you want to grow. Whether they’re your new IT manager or a customer service rep, if they start out without documentation of their responsibilities, key workflows, and other important information, they’ll have to learn all of this on their own!
From the employee side, this typically feels like a lack of training, which is one of the #1 reasons for employee turnover. And you can only cram so much information into that 2-day or 5-day orientation. They’re going to need a reference guide to fulfill their duties! And if they don’t have it, they will be confused until they figure out how to operate, which will cost you time, productivity, and money.
The opposite of confusion, of course, is clarity. When team members are crystal clear on the goals they need to achieve and the best way to achieve them, then they perform better! They also need to learn to operate on their own, however, which means they need documentation they can reference in their day-to-day.
Reason #2 For Documenting Business Processes: Avoiding Waste
Another important reason to document all your business processes is to avoid waste. Waste happens in a business when people put forth efforts that don’t result in positive outcomes. Imagine if individual salespeople in your company use a sub-optimal method of getting sales from customers. Now magnify that by your entire sales team. Will your sales increase or decrease?
You don’t want individual team members wasting their time, which is one of your most valuable resources. Highly-trained professionals don’t come cheap. If you’re paying them to waste time, then you’re also wasting money.
The opposite of waste, is, of course, efficiency. If your IT manager understands how to maintain all your business technologies in the most efficient way possible, that frees him or her up to focus on the important thing: business growth. The human brain can only retain so much information, however, which is why documentation was invented: to hold the information we need to reference to perform a task better.
Reason #3 For Documenting Business Processes: Avoiding Redundancy
One final reason for documenting business processes is avoiding redundancy. Redundancy happens a lot in many different types of businesses when individual team members replicate the efforts of other team members. This can happen especially in the realm of customer service. Whatever kind of product or service your business delivers, this product or service has to go through many hands before it reaches the customer. And even after the customer purchases it, you probably have a separate support team in case the customer experiences problems.
But how do you know that all these people are working harmoniously to produce the best experience for the customer? Documentation can help with this process by informing individual team members as to their part in the greater whole. If individual team members understand not only their specific duties, but how these duties contribute to the overall customer experience, they are much more likely to meet and exceed your expectations.
We’ve been continually surprised over the years by how many of our clients “wing it,” using meetings, emails, and other temporary forms of communication to keep their team members in the loop. If you talk to anyone who has grown a business to a large scale, however, they understand the power of documentation.
Unless you want to spend significant time orienting confused employees, ensuring individual team members are on-task, and trying to figure out if different parts of your company are working at cross-purposes, you need quality documentation that can provide a crystal clear understanding of all your core business processes to every member of your team.