How to Use Process Documentation

In my last post I described how to document a business process. If you need help with understanding what to document, and why, visit this post and you will be ready to use the information you have captured.

So what now?

Documenting a process is the first step towards taking control of how things are done. By creating the document, you are creating transparency. That means that you have captured the best way to perform a series of activities, including how to do it, who performs it, etc. Implementing the process then generates consistency, meaning every time the process is performed, it is always executed in that way.

Here are a few ways to ensure your process documents add real business value:

  1. Transparency ensures that there is no hiding place! We can all see who is involved and how things are done. Use the documents to improve communication and eliminate the possibilities of people not knowing who/how.
  2. Manage risk. Risk is everywhere. We can’t eliminate it, but we can manage it. Your process documents highlight business risks, so implement solutions to mitigate them and prevent problem further down the line.
  3. Identify improvements. Now you know what’s involved in a process, identify what is taking the most time/where the bottlenecks are, what causes the stress and frustration felt by staff, what we can do more efficiently (making better use of IT for instance), and what activities we can stop doing.
  4. Train staff. Use the documents to train employees effectively. Being able to see how processes operate provides the basis for first class training.
  5. Challenge people to change/improve/re-design their processes.
  6. Build a library – a business management system, consisting of every process in the business, and measure performance.
  7. Use the documentation as the foundation for business standards, such as achieving certification to ISO 9001.
  8. Audit the processes. Follow them in real-time and see how they are performing. Bring a fresh pair of eyes to each process and identify better ways to work.

Are you using your process documents effectively? How are your processes adding value?

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